Wednesday, April 25, 2007

MPH Literary Tatler

Am playing catch-up with some pictures of a couple of MPH events that I meant to post earlier. what can I say ... my hard-disk crashed so I couldn't post them immediately ... and then so many other things got in the way. (And I was a little lazy too ...)

Anyway, if you missed last month's Writers' Circle (held at 1 Utama, 13 March) kick yourselves because there was so much in the talk for writers of creative non-fiction!

Invited speakers Larry Parr (co-author of business tycoon Tan Chin Nam's Never Say I Assume!) and Balan Moses (author of Brickfields: A Place, A Time, A Memory) talked about the researching and writing of their books.

American author Larry Parr had forgotten the first time we met some years ago. I was wandering around the Sucasa very early one morning looking for a decent cup of coffee. (I was due to observe one of my students teaching in the school opposite but needed a caffeine fix first! School canteens don't have Americanas!) I bumped into Larry who told me that there was no coffee available, but there was a small newsagents which also sold second-hand books very cheaply for charity. (Damn! Wasn't going to let that slip!)

We got talking about books (as one does!) and it turned out that Larry collects old novels written about Malaya which he's bought from second-hand bookshops here and in the States. I'm actually quite envious! He told me then that he was going to be working with tycoon Tan Chin Nam on his autobiography and it seemed a really interesting project. We exchanged cards, but I didn't see him again until the Writers' Circle at MPH 1 Utama when he talked about the finished book and the challenges of writing the story of this very important businessman, whose life story parallels the history of the country.

Larry is a fascinating speaker. (This wikipedia article contains some inaccuracies e.g date of birth and number of kids.) He was an expert in Soviet affairs and the editor of Glasnost magazine, and he also edited Chess Life magazine, the official publication of the United States Chess Federation.

(And he's going to be co-writing a thriller, but it's all top secret for now!)

Balan Moses is the news editor of the New Straits Times and has spent all his working life with the newspaper. His book on Brickfields is a loving portrait of an area of the city with a very distinctive history that's rapidly changing out of all recognition. And into the history and geography of the place, Balan weaves personal recollection and portraits of the inhabitants ... as well as mouthwatering descriptions of the food to be found there. It is in many ways a guide book to an area that tourists seldom travel too, but which yields as much (or more) cultural interest as the more famous haunts.

The book is apparently selling very well, and small wonder because I feel it's one that KLites, and particularly Brickfieldsians (!) must surely take to their hearts. I heard from friends who attended a talk that Balan gave at the Commonwealth Club, that members of the audience virtually hijacked the meeting to talk about their own reminiscences of the area and suggest what should go into the next volume!

You can catch Balan at the "Readings" in May. (More about that later.)

The other MPH event was the second Breakfast Club for the Litbloggers held at the Bangsar Village branch on March 24th with Mrs. Good (Lydia Teh) slugging it out with Mrs. Dark Side (Xeus). I'm joking of course ... it was a lovely morning spent with friends chatting about writing and getting published. Both Xeus and Lydia are very good speakers and kept the crowd well entertained.

Xeus (whose very full account of the event can be found here) gave some excellent writing advice.

Lydia Teh was just hilarious. She turned up with a horn so she really could honk! And I loved the piece she read from her book which was a glossary of expressions translated from standard English read into "Manglish" (Malaysian English).

It was Kak Teh's (Zahara Othman) birthday and it was lovely that we were able to celebrate it with her. I like this not yet posed, informal shot. Left to right: Chet, Xeus, me (tangled up with the ficus plant), Lydia, Kak Teh blowing out her candles, Eric Forbes and Janet Teh.

Do come along to the next one this coming Saturday. If you missed Larry Parr, you have a chance to see him again. The mind-expanding Farish Noor will also be along, as will I Am Muslim author Dina Zaman (whom I am introducing).

I must add a silent prayer that the irrepressible and irrelevant questioner behaves himself. Still Kenny will be moderating the session, so we know we're in safe hands. (He will restrain me as ... )

Oh ... and if you do come along, do stay in Bangsar and come along to "Readings" afterwards!


Chet said...

As Kak Teh's birthday picture shows, they really do serve food at the Breakfast Club! Food for the tummy, and food for the mind, too. Yum, yum.

Lydia Teh said...

Sharon, don't you hope he won't turn up, hehe? But he does provide some excitement. I'm sure Dina and Farish will be able to handle his questions.

Chet said...

I'm actually expecting some fireworks. Better bring along my fireproof gear.

bibliobibuli said...

i do, i do, lydia

scared i will do a basil fawlty and lose my rag completely

Kak Teh said...

aaaah, nice pictures here sharon. and thanks for celebrating with me!
and sharon, would love to see you do a basil fawlty .
To lydia and chet and eric, and xeus, thanks for letting me be the target of the day.

enjoy yr next meet. am awaiting tan twan eng's arrival for his book promo in london and will dutifully report the event.

bibliobibuli said...

ah good kak teh, don't let us miss anything. it's his first time in UK!

Anonymous said...

Lydia looks so adorable in that pic, with her hair band.

Miss Biblio, why were u hiding behind that tree?

The Viz

bibliobibuli said...

trees love me

Kenny Mah said...

Shame on me! I completely forgot to blog about this! Maybe I'll just do a BC2/BC3 combo entry? :P

P.S. I doubt you'd be the only one I'd have to restrain. There'll be a long line, beginning with ME! Hahaha...

bibliobibuli said...

it should be fun on saturday!!!
i'm going to take a big hankie to stuff in my mouth if he starts

Xeus said...

I did wonder about the pics you took, Sharon! Better late than never. Do try to restrain yourself from hurling at irrelevant and irresponsible questioners :)
Warn the moderators to just go on to thje next person...take a leaf from Larry King.

Jordan said...

Okay, I'm kicking myself.

bibliobibuli said...

jordan - next writers' circle is 19th may!

xeus - the larry kin g model is a good one. kenny, take note.

Kenny Mah said...

Hahaha... Ah, the poor man wouldn't know what hit him on Saturday! Better warn Dina, Farish and Larry; otherwise they'll just think we're being mean! :P