Sunday Salon: Cakes, Ukiyo-e and David Mitchell
(‘A Hundred Views of Edo’ – one of which is featured on the cover of Thousand Autumns)
After experimenting with tumblr for while, I’ve returned to WordPress. Why? Tumblr is convenient, but an organizational nightmare for archiving, comments, etc. So I’m back! For good, hopefully. Blog-wise, I’m in the process of cleaning out my old posts and reading projects. Will probably move a few of my tumblr posts over here, just for the sake of continuity. Book-wise, I’m currently immersed in David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which I bought with The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro – my last purchases until I’ve cleared out the pile of unread books in my study. I even borrowed a whole stack from the library to keep myself from reading the Mitchell first; I wanted to save it for later, knowing that his next work won’t be available for a while yet.
BUT IT’S SO TEMPTING!
To use the fat kid and cake analogy, it’s like the fat kid leaving the cake on display in his room, and having to eat carrot sticks until he loses weight. I know right, how perverse and torturous to the little soul is that? So after finishing Ilustrado the other day, (and after half-heartedly opening and adamantly closing shut a few of the books lying around) I finally settled for the Mitchell. Yes, I try to fool myself into thinking I can ignore the cake. And yes, I usually fail.
I’m on page 30, so I have a long while to go before I reach the end. Already, my presumptuous thinking is getting me in a knot. Despite my love for Mitchell, I can’t help being cynical – would this really be considered a ‘masterpiece of our time’ (Richard Eder, The Boston Globe) if it weren’t written by David Mitchell? Can he really deliver, and meet my oh-so-high expectations? Will I be disappointed? Will I be ever more convinced of his genius? It’ll be interesting to see how this turns out.
For now, I’m enjoying the ride. I haven’t seen much yet, but there have been glimpses, here and there, of his love for word play and spectacular/flamboyant – verbose but delightful – style of imagery. And I have to say, I like the cover on my edition (the one with the Edo print) much more than that flaccid, lifeless powdery blue and ivory cover I’ve seen around. This one has so much more oomph to it, and makes it look less cutesy. Because cutesy is not a word I would use to describe David Mitchell’s literary prowess.