Thursday, 12 March 2009

the truth about my life in Vietnam

I've been dealing with a lot of those 'what have you been up to over there' kind of emails of late. Vietnam sounds so exotic. You look like you are having a great time. Yadda yadda yadda. These questions bug me mostly because they encourage me to sit back and ask myself the same thing. What have I been doing over here? I don't work. I often don't even leave the apartment until dinner time. I am not writing my great Australia/Vietnamese novel. I'm not even sitting back staring at the wall with some kick-arse drug habit (cigarettes and booze don't count, if only because they are legal). So what is it I've been doing all this time?

I'll tell you what. I've been reading. Call it 'research towards the novel', or 'avoiding all my responsibilities'. I've looked at myself hard in the mirror and asked where all those hours, days, weeks, months have disappeared to. And it is reading. Whenever I can't face life, or reality, I pick up a book. And obviously I've had a lot of responsibilities to avoid. I've sat down and listed all the books I remember have read since leaving Australia in April last year. This list is in no particular order, and I've probably forgotten a few. However, there are only two books on the list which I felt happy to see the back of - the Paul Coelho and the Iain Banks - they didn't do it for me.

Bowl of Cherries - Millard Kaufman
The Age of the Warrior - Selected Writings - Robert Fisk
The Shock Doctrine - Naomi Klein
Interpreter of Maladies (short stories) - Jhumpa Lahiri
This Earth of Mankind - Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Child of All Nations - Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Generation of Swine (reread) - Hunter S Thompson
Failed States - Noam Chomsky
The Zahir - Paulo Coelho
A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali - Gil Courtemanche
Shalimar the Clown - Salman Rushdie
Snow - Orhan Pamuk
Last Night I Dreamed of Peace - Dang Thuy Tram
Dirt Music - Tim Winton
A Wolf at the Table - Augusten Burroughs
Possible Side Effects - Augusten Burroughs
Running with Scissors - Augusten Burroughs
The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
In Evil Hour - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Short Cuts - Raymond Carver
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (short stories) - Raymond Carver
1967 This Is It! - Lowell Tarling
South of the Border, West of the Sun - Haruki Murakami
A Wild Sheep Chase (reread) - Haruki Murakami
The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Birthday Stories (shoter stories - various authors) - ed Haruki Murakami
A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
The Piano Teacher - Elfeiede Jelinek
The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck
Double Vision - Pat Barker
Underground - Andrew McGahan
A Song of Stone - Iain Banks
Two Caravans - Marina Lewycka
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Maria Lewycka
Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris
Strange Pilgrims - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Novel with No Name - Duong Thu Huong
A Viet Cong Memoir - Truong Nhu Tang
Ho Chi Minh: Selected Writings
Dumb Luck - Vu Trong Phung
Brazil - John Updike
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
The Tears of Autumn - Charles McCarry

currently reading:
Footsteps - Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard - Kiran Desai

1 comment:

Deepwarren said...

you'll be needing a new bookcase soon. any requests needed to go back with the tall one? shall i send more books?