Monday, June 29, 2009

The Flatmate And The Bookshelf

When you see a picture of someone with a bookshelf in the background, do you always try to figure what the titles and who the authors are? Yeah, I do, but you knew that, right?

So when someone shows me a nice picture of my flatmate Izzy (formerly famous sex person) featured in the current edition of Singapore's Cleo magazine, the first thing I notice is that is she sitting next to one of MY bookshelves! I guess the idea was to reinforce her depiction as a serious writer, which would imply therefore that she is a big reader. Well, she certainly is, but not necessarily of THESE* exact books!

(Thinks: I can pretty much date the photo from the layout of books on the shelves. It's recent. Ah, she says three months ago.)

The bookshelf itself is interesting, being made from railway sleepers and the timber of demolished Indonesian railway stations. No forests were demolished for the making of this shelf. At least that's how the people in Scanteak marketed it to me and justified its exorbitant price. This is the bookshelf that they put together so shoddily that it started doing a Leaning Tower of Pisa thing almost immediately. The design was pretty, but the load-bearing and support were pretty well unthought-out ad required some E@L work to reinforce. I think I posted last year about the difficulties of finding a decent handyman store in Singapore, that's when I was looking for something to use to restore the shelf's verticality. It is now about 98% up and down. It'll never lean over any further, trust me!

The books on display include a biography of DaVinci, not because of the Brown abomination, but because he is left-handed and a genius, therefore like me. ("I have so often seen how people come by the name of genius; in the same way, that is, as certain insects come by the name of millipede — not because they have that number of feet, but because most people won't count up to fourteen." — Georg Christoph Lichtenberg) Further along my literary bio shelf, there's some stuff on Kafka visible, bios of Anthony Burgess, Proust, Kerouac, PK Dick, George Johnston, Malcolm Lowry, C.S. Lewis (a present from my religious sister), Dorothy Parker, Orwell, Proust, Marlowe, Frank Moorhouse's wonderful wonderful book on the Martini (sort of autobiographical), Rilke and Lou Andreas Salome, Swinbourne, Tolkien and finally Van Gogh (about the women in his life).

Down below, the next shelf is a bit mixed between history, science and food. Peter Gay's books on the Enlightenment (overlit) on the left, then a book on the Dodo (about species extinction), some kitchen science (love it!), Harold Bloom out of place with his explication on the essential Westen reading list, a coupla Tim Flannery's books on global warming etc, then behind Izzy, Fast Food Nation, across to Omnivore Dilemma and Ian Banks on whiskey on the far left (our right) of Iz.

Bottom shelf (actually the floor) there is a misfiled Roald Dahl, as this is meant to be the health section, with Plague Race (about the determining the plague vector to be fleas - research done in Hong Kong only 100 years ago), Susan Sontag on Illness as Metaphor, Roy Porter on the history of medicine, then a mix-up: a book on The Australian Labor Party in the 60's (definitely not something Izzy would read), Zusak's Book thief (what's fiction doing on this bookshelf? - see I do have author's starting with Z), some social history by John Raulston Saul and behind Izzy's bum, appropriately enough, are two well-thumbed volumes of de Sade.

Not a bad representation of my interests. Now I need to get famous so it can be ME posing in front of them!


* I take that back. She is currently reading Bulgakov's Master and Margarita, which I see now (I have the magazine here) is on the shelf next to the DaVinci books! And I dont mean to imply that she doesn't read such heavy books, it's just she is more into film, architecture ahd global politics and economics, most of which which she keeps on the shelf in her room That is all I meant.


Momentary Madness said...

Not enough time, and the flat mate reads better.
And totally irrelevant-

expat@large said...

MM: She does read better and, damn her, she writes better (certainly more intellectually) too.

Yes that link is TOTALLY irrelevant.

Lost in Melbourne said...

So why don't you just get her to take your pic in the same place and post it on her blog? Or photoshop the image with her in it?

There there mate, she is living at your place to let some of your worldliness rub off on her anyway, so you are still the winner in the end.

PS my verification word below is stroke, what does that mean? have one or take one?

Lost in Melbourne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lost in Melbourne said...

And Phil by a strange coincidence I have a young housemate myself who is an aspiring design student from North Point - see pics on f'book. Perhaps some day I to, will finally be an expat @ large? Speaking of which I should be back in Singa soon enough to come for that session we missed in Jan.

JP said...

For some reason this post reminds me of a joke...hmmm: Two engineering students were walking across a university campus when one said, "Where did you get such a great bike?"

The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, "Take what you want."

The second engineer nodded approvingly and said, "Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn't have fit you anyway."

Momentary Madness said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Momentary Madness said...

totally irrelevant: Allen Stanford looks like he’s not going to make bail. I don’t see why not, he only ripped off a mere 7 billion, sure that’s nothing these days- beer money.

expat@large said...

Scott: stroke away... Beers? Sure, let me know.

JP: yes, the point is of the post is, if you are like me, it's, "hey look at these books, excuse me ma'am could you move to the side?"

expat@large said...

MM: you want I should post a Stanford / Madoff story so you can have somewhere appropriate to comment?

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