The eBook includes all the paperback edition illustrations, except the translucent bookmark, featuring a piece of art by Eevamaija Poijärvi. What the kindle edition lacks in touch and smell of a physical book, it makes up with its internal references and immediate delivery. The words are the same but the story, as with the paperback edition, might be different the second time around.
More quotes at facebook.com/TheFrictionist
My newly released novel, 7 Days and Counting, is available at the Kapok online store with free world-wide shipping.
Stock pile at kapok on sun street
Address: 3 Sun Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
The story begins on Saturday, October 27th at Kapok on Sun Street.
Over twenty Informal Editors from Finland, UK, Japan, Belgium, US, Australia and Hong Kong helped to refine 7 DAYS AND COUNTING that reads like a modern romance, unfolds like a mystery and at the end opens up for interpretation. Now the polished novel, which has been awarded a Literary Arts Grant by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, is coming out as an unique book befitting the story that challenges your perception.
Reserve the date 27.10.2012 from 5pm until 7pm. Invitation to follow.
The most famous word in Shakespeare’s Hamlet is the one we don’t know, the adjective omitted here:
O, that this too too flesh would melt,
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew,
Or that the everlasting had not fixed
His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter – O God, God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world.
Attempts have been made to resurrect the misprinted word as “sullied” and “solid” among others, but what is a beloved brought back to life for one is a Frankenstein to another. Everyone seems to agree though that we are free to speculate until a long lost original manuscript will set the record straight and Shakespeare has his last word. We pledge so strong allegiance to the author that if such a manuscript were ever found, we would debate about its authenticity – not whether there is a right word for Hamlet.
“Solid flesh” would fit nicely with melt, thaw and dew, but solid as an opposite of liquid doesn’t add anything that isn’t already implied. Based on the meaning, “sullied” would be the logical choice as “tarnished flesh” adds to the verse, provides explanation for Hamlet’s desire to commit suicide, and it fits well with “weary” and particularly “stale”.
The “too too” preceding the misprinted word indicates either desperation, emphasis or temporary amnesia. The desperate tone is set at the beginning with the “O”, and it continues through out the passage, so desperation cannot be ignored. If “too too” is also used as an emphasis then boolean “solid” makes hardly sense. “Sullied” on the other hand lends itself to both desperation and emphasis as there can be different degrees of stained. I prefer “sullied” because it ties closely to a reoccurring motif of incest in the play and gives the most freedom of expression to Hamlet. Imagine if a manuscript surfaced and it revealed that it was frustration and amnesia that Shakespeare was aiming at, and there was a blank to begin with. Would we accept his artistic choice when for years we have been in search of the right word?
We are reluctant to correct a mistake, even a blatant one, if it is made by an artist. When a famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto designed Finlandia Hall, he chose white Mediterranean marble for the exterior walls that proved to be ill-suited for the harsh conditions of Northern winter. The same Carraran marble was used when the music hall was renovated after his death, because it was the architect’s choice. As a proponent of functional design I have no doubt Alvar Aalto would have chosen differently had he known how the constant freezing and thawing affects the marble. His mistake would have been corrected by others had he not been a famous architect. Instead, a decade later, Finlandia Hall is once again in desperate need of a renovation.
I strongly believe we should aim for the integrity of the work instead of the integrity of the author’s final judgement. Sullied solids should not be blindly determined by what we might find in a manuscript or a blueprint if it is in contradiction with the work. People make mistakes. Artists make mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes are what gives the work a more profound meaning; other times they are just what they are – mistakes.
It is official. 7 Days and Counting has been awarded a Literary Arts Grant by Hong Kong Arts Development Council. My first novel will be published in 2012. This would not have been possible without the help of the Informal Editors. Thank you.
I’ve updated the beginning of the 7 Days and Counting blog version to reflect the version that is currently going through the final editing process.
Are you looking for a children’s story that has something for the adults as well? A short story set in Hong Kong Park you happily read again and again even if your children become obsessed with it? Take a peek at the sample of The Shy Star and join Informal Editors.
Despite the unpleasant coating of the cover, akin to toad skin, I could not put down Stacy Schiff’s entertaining biography Cleopatra A Life. To avoid parting with the fascinating metropolis that was Alexandria, and the larger than life single-mother-queen-goddess of Egypt, I even began to read it out aloud to my children as a bedtime story. I was prepared to distort the history for young ears, but quickly found it to be a surmountable task as murderous plots and incest were celebrated more frequently than birthdays in Cleopatra’s inverted family.
I hope my children could piece together from the heavily censored bedtime version that not all princesses have to marry the prince charming or an over-weight man from the swamp. Even though Cleopatra was born a princess, she had to work and fight for her right to become and remain a queen. Cleopatra, who spoke fluently nine languages, was a highly intelligent and educated woman, which was a key to her success. The most important lesson to learn from Cleopatra’s story is that history is written with an agenda and should be viewed in context. Schiff succeeds to provide that context for past historians, and does not merely recount the different tales of Cleopatra we have come to cherish over the centuries.
Future historians might criticize Schiff for advancing her own agenda by casting Cleopatra as a modern Alexandrian woman in a dark contrast to the oppressed women of Rome, for stripping her of bewitching seductive powers and portraying her as an equal, if not superior, to the powerful men of her time. Schiff’s Cleopatra, a capable, wealthy sovereign, who captured all of Egypt and several Roman hearts with her mind rather than her looks, was a master of public relations and brand management. Schiff takes the reader to an exclusive backstage tour behind the scenes, restores the glory and in the end provides one final tribute to her subject: even Cleopatra’s demise emerges as a triumph.
Schiff’s Cleopatra brings to mind Mika Waltari’s Sinuhe, another modern albeit fictional Egyptian, who forces the reader to shed misconceptions about the ancient times. Waltari’s novel The Egyptian is so well grounded in the egyptology, that it is worth the read even for those who prefer non-fiction. I highly recommend both.
Walter Isaacson has written once again a biography for the masses, wrapped in a pretty high gloss dust jacket, that could have come straight from the Apple design factory, featuring Steve Jobs on front and back. The book was not supposed to be published until 2012, and in some minor details it shows. It would have benefitted from a few more editorial rounds, to avoid a few logical errors in sentences and overuse of some words such as “reality distortion field” coined by Jobs’ colleagues. All in all, it is an enjoyable read; only rarely did I trace back to double-check details. In less than four days, the 571 pages had turned almost by themselves. In the end, I wished both Jobs and Isaacson would have had a chance to write a few more chapters.
Nothing demonstrates better how Isaacson has captured the Steveness as the heading toward the end of the book “And One More Thing…” followed by Jobs’ own words on his hopes for his legacy. The account of Jobs reflecting on death, and the possibility of God, sounds almost too good to be true. Still, even if Isaacson sugarcoated the last paragraph, it is the perfect ending that surely would have pleased even Steve. For an Apple fan like myself, this book is a joyful read but leaves something to be desired.
Despite his best efforts, Isaacson fails to avoid the reality distortion field. Isaacson does portray Steve Jobs truthfully as an egocentric, flawed human being, but falls for Jobs’ compelling mantra of control when it comes to Apple’s business practices. Failures of Microsoft, Google, IBM and others serve as a backdrop for Apple’s insanely successful products and iTunes and App Store strategy, followed by the future in the iCloud. The mantra goes as follows: tightly integrated hardware, software and content will lead to innovative products and user-friendly experience. Isaacson acknowledges a few casualties of this approach, porn and political satire censored by Apple, and refers to the debate casting Apple as the Big Brother. The chosen examples, and the email exchange between Jobs and Valleywag editor Ryan Tate, not only reveal Steve’s attitude – but also Isaacson’s, that it is a company’s responsibility to draw the line somewhere and protect the people from whatever it is the company deems undesired or harmful. What Isaacson ignores to disclose, is that Apple has already demonstrated the dark side of being the Big Brother, and it is not merely a frightening possibility of the future.
iFlow, by BeamItDown Software, used to be a feature-rich eBook reader with a promising start to become the next generation eBook reader for the iOS, but earlier this year Apple changed the rules for the App Store predicting a negative cash flow for BeamItDown Software among others. The new agent model required a 30% cut for in-app purchases and banned directing users to a website to purchase subscriptions and digital products. Combined with the requirement of a fixed commission of 30% for all book sellers, Apple intended to make sure only they could sell eBooks on Apple devises with a profit. In one swift move Apple killed the innovative iFlow reader and crippled other eBook readers, such as Kindle for for iOS, in favour of their own iBook.
The large companies in the eBook market were able to push Apple to loosen up the new rules, allowing publishers to mark-up the price for in-app purchases, to account for the 30% cut, or forgo the initially required in-app purchase option altogether. A change that was disguised as an enhancement to the user experience, and intended to ensure users pay the same price regardless which eBook reader they use, ended up doing exactly the opposite.
For the music industry, it is already clear that you need to play ball the way Apple sees fit, or you won’t play ball at all in the digital market. The big players in the eBook market were able to avoid the fate of iFlow this time around, but the playing field is now rigged for Apple to hit a home run with the next version of eBook. I’m sure Apple will eventually deliver a wonderful next generation eBook reader that the users will love, and we will once again marvel the clever innovations. I also predict that we will be astonished how they did it without Steve, forgetting that anything that Apple dishes out in the next three years probably bears his thumbprint.
Isaacson states at the beginning, and repeats near the end of his book, that Steve Jobs did not ask to read the biography in advance. I would be surprised if Apple PR department didn’t get to review the book before it reached the printers. In 2005 Apple was not happy about an unauthorized Steve Jobs biography, “iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business” published by John Wiley & Sons, and decided to remove all the titles of the publisher from the iBookstore. For Apple to refuse to sell an unauthorized biography of its co-founder is dubious for a company that touts freedom yet it is understandable. But to pull the plug on Wiley’s other books, in attempt to force the hand of the publisher, is a blatant example of misuse of power. It is a frightening prospect what Apple could do with this power if the next insanely great product is the next generation iBook reader, and even more so, if it is iCloud instead.