Our first readers was Shih-Li Kow (and apologies for spelling her name wrong earlier) who read the title piece from News from Home, a collection of short fiction which showcases the work of three new writers published by Silverfish. It is a very enjoyable story which came over very well.
I've been wanting to get Tunku Halim ("Malaysia's Stephen King") to Readings for a long time, but he isn't in the country very often (he lives in Tasmania!) so I was really happy when he said he was back and could come along. He read a story called Blue Glass from his new collection Gravedigger's Kiss very spookily. (Though members of the audience commented afterwards that he isn't as scary in person as they thought he would be ...).
Bernice Chauly launched her new collection of poetry and prose The Book of Sins. It is so nice to see that pieces we've hear her read on other occasions have now been collected together and a whole work given shape.
Subverting the concept of the seven deadly sins, Bernice comes up with a list of her own (Pride, Greed, Wrath, War, Gluttony, Love, Betrayal and Lust) which becomes the organising principle for this intensely personal book, which ends with her poems about her mother's death and forgiveness.
During the break it was time to get down to the business of celebrating our birthday with a chocolate cake. Bernice and I blew out the candles, made wishes, and cut the chocolate cake.
Is this a party, or what??
Poor Chua Kok Yee got to read with a big red stain on his shirt. No, Tunku Halim hadn't stabbed him. He had been attacked by a wine bottle while bravely struggling with a recalcitrant cork!
He took the presence of the large picture of piggies on the other wall as an omen that he should read his short story about three little pigs from News From Home - a funny and clever piece.
Chuah Guat Eng was once upon a time my writing teacher and I am very grateful to her for her help and encouragment. Guat's first novel, Echoes of Silence was launched in 1994 and her poems, short stories and articles have appeared in many publications. She has also recently finished her PhD.
Today she was launching her new collection of short fiction, The Old House & Other Stories and she read three extracts connected with the theme of how we use of language which gave us an excellent taster of the book.
Last up was journalist Gerald Chuah whom I first met when we were both doing a telephone interview with self-help guru, Jack Canfield. (He came along prepared and I benefited!) Gerald's book In the Eye of the Tiger:Survival Principles from Sylvester Stallone's Life and Films is pretty unique, and I think Rehman Rashid describes it best:
It is the uber-fanzine ... the product of an obsession that might be certifiable were it not channelled and refined into this ageless document ... genre-defying ... he’s penetrated the vacuity of Hollywood to tap the heart within.Gerald still seems overwhelmed by the fact that he managed to achieve his dream and write the book. (And it is a beautifully produced book too.)
My thanks to Seksan for the beautiful space. To all who read and all who came. To my friends who set things up and cleared up so well.
BP has an excellent write-up here, and Ted has great photos too.