Friday, February 15, 2008

An Outrageous Burst of DIY Creativity


Amir Muhammad's latest project New Malaysian Essays is being launched at Central Market Annexe tomorrow night (16th). I can personally vouch for the book (which contains essays by Brian Yap, Aminuddin Mahmud, Burhan Baki, Saharil Hasrin Sanin, Amir Muhammad and Sonia Randhawa) being mighty good brain food. Amir has tempting glimpses of each of the essays on his blog, and Brian Yap's piece The Trouble With Malaysia can also be read (footnotes and all) in this months issue of Off the Edge. The Sun is also publishing extracts.

A whole lot of other good indie stuff will be launched and sold including Chuah Guat Eng's new collection of short stories The Old House (which I will be writing about later), Bernice Chauly's The Book of Sins, Sufian Abas' collection of disposable (?) pop fiction in Malay Kasut Biru Rubina, and new albums by Jerome Kugan (at last!), Hardesh Singh and the amazing Mia Palancia.

I think Amir (who is proving himself quite remarkably adept at marketing his products) is the very first Malaysian publisher to create a video trailer for a book, and I do hope this is the start of a new trend :



Earlier in the day, Kata-Suara is holding readings at featuring Aisyah Baharudin, Azman Ismail, Azmyl Yunor, Bernice Chauly, Pyan Habib, Razali Endun and Usratika. The event starts at 5 p.m. and the venue is RA Fine Arts, 6 Jalan Aman, off Jalan Tun Razak. (Map here.)

Those with sufficient energy and commitment and a ticket for the LRT should be able to make both events, but do make sure you have deep pockets to buy books and CD's at Amir's bash.

15 comments:

Azwan Ismail said...

Oooh, people used to confuse me with Azwan Ali, now it is Azman Ismail? I believe this is the guy from Utusan Malaysia. Whatever it is, to be 'associated' with these 2 guys is so unpleasant! Pity me.

bibliobibuli said...

ouch. am sorry and am changing it. i automatically thought of you and mistyped the name.

animah said...

The video is great, especially the PG rating statement.
Amir, if you're reading this, I can't make it tomorrow night, but I will buy several copies when I see you, as promised. Good luck!

argus said...

Laudable! So glad the young people are making things happen. Now there's more to look forward to when I next go to Malaysia.

GUO SHAO-HUA said...

Miss Bib,

re: Book Report

i finished The Anubis Gates and it blew me away! i haven't enjoyed a book this much since oh i dont know when. aint no complex language, but the prose is simple, effective.

now reading The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. into the third page and i'm hooked. the prose is rather unique.

bibliobibuli said...

many thanks for the recommendations. had to go look up "the anubis gates" and it does look interesting

Anonymous said...

As usual, lots of people saying that the cat needs belling. So tell me something I don't know. What I want to know is how ? and I want to know in definite (not general) terms. I want to know when you're going to start a political party and fix the stuff you're always complaining about.

OTOH An American writer I know is thankful that this year he can afford to buy flowers and dinner
for his wife on Valentine's Day.

And he is so much better than ANY writer I've read in this country.

Life is unfair.

Anonymous said...

Mr./Ms. Anonymous at 10:57: Since you asked, I'll tell you something you don't seem to know. In a true democracy, one elects leaders who will run the country the way one wants it run. You're basically saying: if you don't like the way they're doing it, why don't you do it yourself? So, to extend your argument: if your dermatologist accidentally amputates your leg, you should just go and get a medical degree yourself; if your child comes back from school believing that China is in Europe, you should start your own school; if you find a dead body in your hotel room, you should either suck it up or start your own damn hotel. Whoever came up with the ridiculous idea of the division of labour was smoking the wrong thing. We should all just get busy and do everything ourselves.

Silly me -- I always thought that the point of democracy was that if we didn't like the way our leaders were doing things, we should find better leaders, people who are more qualified to lead our country than we are ourselves. I thought we had the right to demand competent leadership of our leaders, but now I see I should've been out there fixing potholes and solving murders myself.

Also, it's, um, delightful that your American writer friend is so easily pleased. I like that kind of optimism in a person. There's nothing like being able to say, Well, at least I can still afford a pepperoni pizza even if my country is declaring war on the rest of the world, torturing prisoners in my name, and destroying the ozone layer.

But do us a favour, Mr./Ms. Anonymous: take a larger sample and then get back to us, would you? If you really believe American writers don't complain about the state of affairs in the US, I'm not sure where you've been or what you've been reading.

-- Preeta

vovin said...

Hello Sharon,

Interesthing statement:

"the very first Malaysian publisher to create a video trailer for a book,"

Ummm, not entirely true.

http://pts.com.my/index.php/tv/

:P

But maybe i'm wrong, Huhu...

bibliobibuli said...

vovin - i love to be proved wrong! many thanks for the link

Chet said...

Astro Awani was at the launch and busy filming away. Not sure when it was aired. Anyone knows?

Anonymous said...

"Mr./Ms. Anonymous at 10:57: Since you asked, I'll tell you something you don't seem to know. In a true democracy, one elects leaders who will run the country the way one wants it run. You're basically saying: if you don't like the way they're doing it, why don't you do it yourself?"

No, I'm basically saying, why whine about it as if that's going to change anything ? unless of course it makes a profit (oh wait.. :) )

"So, to extend your argument: if your dermatologist accidentally amputates your leg, you should just go and get a medical degree yourself"

Well here's the difference : dermatology is not something that you can do yourself without formal education or experience. It does seem though, that any guy with money can start a political party.


"if your child comes back from school believing that China is in Europe, you should start your own school"

If that happened, I WOULD start my own school (at least for my (hypothetical) kids.) It's called "homeschooling".

"if you find a dead body in your hotel room, you should either suck it up or start your own damn hotel."

Well no, but if I "thought" there was a dead body in my hotel room, I would go looking for evidence, I wouldn't be writing about there being a body in my hotel room even though I haven't seen or found one. The hote would probably sue me or something :)

"Whoever came up with the ridiculous idea of the division of labour was smoking the wrong thing. We should all just get busy and do everything ourselves."

I think we should do what we can do ourselves, rather than complain about it. There's nothing more embarrassing than doing something yourself, that a government should have done. That is a sure-fire way to gain sympathy and support.

"Silly me -- I always thought that the point of democracy was that if we didn't like the way our leaders were doing things, we should find better leaders, people who are more qualified to lead our country than we are ourselves. "

No, we shouldn't be looking for better ones. We should be complaining endlessly about the present ones :)

"I thought we had the right to demand competent leadership of our leaders, but now I see I should've been out there fixing potholes and solving murders myself."

Actually I do think that. As I mentioned earlier, there's nothing more embarrassing than doing something yourself, that a government should have done. Remember that guy called "Panjang" ? I bet there are fewer potholes now that he gained national fame by fixing them himself :)

"Also, it's, um, delightful that your American writer friend is so easily pleased. I like that kind of optimism in a person. There's nothing like being able to say, Well, at least I can still afford a pepperoni pizza even if my country is declaring war on the rest of the world, torturing prisoners in my name, and destroying the ozone layer."

So why are you published in a country that's declaring war on the rest of the world, torturing prisoners, and destroying the ozone layer ? :)

"But do us a favour, Mr./Ms. Anonymous: take a larger sample and then get back to us, would you? If you really believe American writers don't complain about the state of affairs in the US, I'm not sure where you've been or what you've been reading."

Of course they do. That just shows that this sort of thing is everywhere. In the US though, if you do a Jack Thompson, people laugh and enjoy the show. The people that do that are mostly old people anyway, or people out to make a profit. How much of this activism has a profit motive ? how morally and ethically acceptable is for-profit activism ? that's what I want to know.

Anonymous said...

Dear Person Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous but Nevertheless Feels Free to Attempt Flaccid Ad Hominem Attacks on Others:

"So why are you published in a country that's declaring war on the rest of the world, torturing prisoners, and destroying the ozone layer ? :)"

What what what? Smiley face or not, you're not making sense. YOU'RE the one who says a writer shouldn't complain about the country in which he or she is published -- not me. I don't subscribe to that belief. Hence I can be published anywhere I please, thank you very much. America has its problems, but it does welcome dissent. That question would never have been put to me by any American I know.

I shouldn't keep you from your work because clearly, if you're going to be setting up vigilante armies *and* fixing potholes, you're a busy man, but some of us believe that a politician should be more than just "any guy with money." I mean, isn't that how Malaysia got into this mess in the first place? Some of us believe that a writer's job is *precisely* to complain about things so as to draw the attention of the rest of the population to these problems. Historically, this has been the job of writers and the press. To complain. So I'll keep complaining, and hope that someone competent who *is* actually qualified to run for office will someday do so.

It's all well and good for everyone to fix only the problems that affect them, but I, for one, shudder at libertarianism taken to its extreme. If everyone pulls their children out of government schools and homeschools them instead of trying to fix the larger system, what happens to the children whose parents wish to teach them that God created the world in seven days, and the earth is flat, and the moon is made of cream cheese? Public services exist for a reason, you know.

-- Preeta

Anonymous said...

Preeta, you didn't answer most of my questions :) er.. what ad hominem attacks ? I don't see any. Those were just questions, same as you'd ask anyone. I'm just saying, you hate their policies but you take their money ? isn't that the same as "I hate cake but I eat it a lot" ?

"I mean, isn't that how Malaysia got into this mess in the first place?"

Er.. what mess ? I don't discount anyone's opinion, but you know, I'd like to see some proof for once.

See that's exactly it. They say it's a mess, and then they don't say much else. If I said, for instance, that you were a mess, you'd ask me what I mean right ?

What if I didn't answer you but continued broadcasting to the world that you were a mess, and many other unsavoury things besides ?

What if I wrote a book claiming that you were a mess, and all the other unsavoury things you can imagine, and sold it ? what would you do ?

I mean if you want to say there's a problem, first you have to define the problem, then you have to say why there's a problem, and then you maybe offer some solutions. You have to do your homework.

If you're just going to keep repeating generalizations, then you have to wonder about the sincerity of the writer.

"America has its problems, but it does welcome dissent."

Two words -- Patriot Act.

"Historically, this has been the job of writers and the press."

Silly me, I always thought that it was the job of reporters to "report", and the job of journalists to "journalize". Maybe they should be called "Complainers" instead, if that's all they really do :)

Actually I rather think the job of the press is to inform :)

"what happens to the children whose parents wish to teach them that God created the world in seven days, and the earth is flat, and the moon is made of cream cheese?"

I was going be facetious and say "they grow up to be writers" but no, I won't :)

I guess the same thing that happens to kids in government schools that are taught that China is in Europe. Except that now you can't blame the government for that.

And the moon IS made of cream cheese. Not very good cheese though.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Anonymous:

By ad hominem, I meant that this argument had nothing to do with me until you chose to accuse me of hypocrisy. But your accusation can hold no water to anyone who understands anything about publishing. I mean really, Mr. Anonymous, who do you think is publishing my book -- George Dubya Bush himself?!? When you say:

"you hate their policies but you take their money ?"

you make no sense -- no sense whatsoever -- because the first "their" refers to the American government and the second "their" refers to a publishing house known -- like all reputable publishing houses in the US -- for fostering dissent. I'm very familiar with the US publishing industry and very comfortable with taking their money because it's an industry by and large peopled with left-wing intellectuals who hate the American government as much as I do.

Next.

"Two words -- Patriot Act."

Oh, Mr. Anonymous, the very idea of a Malaysian living under the ISA and the Sedition Act, but complaining about the US Patriot Act, makes me laugh. Have you ever been to America? Have you ever walked into an American bookshop or newsagent's? When Malaysia has anything resembling The Nation, Harper's Magazine, or Maureen Dowd's columns in the New York Times (a mainstream newspaper, dear Mr. Anonymous -- where is the New Straits Times's Maureen Dowd?), then you can talk to me about the Patriot Act. Go and find any issue of Harper's Magazine, read one of Lewis Lapham's columns, and then get back to me. Or better yet, since you seem to think that the people who complain in America are "mostly old people anyway, or people out to make a profit," check out this fine article, written by an acquaintance of mine who is *possibly* in his mid-forties now but has been writing like this since his twenties:

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2006/06/0081057

The day a Malaysian equivalent of this article can be published in a respectable, widely-circulated, literary/political journal in Malaysia (oh -- and by the way -- Harper's Magazine is a not-for-profit publication), I'll listen to your howling about the Patriot Act.

Yes, the job of the press is to inform, but there is, if anything, a fine, fine line between informing intelligently and complaining, Mr. Anonymous, and most thinking people would agree that in many cases there is no line at all.

And finally:

"I mean if you want to say there's a problem, first you have to define the problem, then you have to say why there's a problem, and then you maybe offer some solutions. You have to do your homework.

If you're just going to keep repeating generalizations, then you have to wonder about the sincerity of the writer."

Have you actually read the publications to which you refer, Mr. Anonymous? Have you read Brian Yap's essay in New Malaysian Essays? It has eighty-seven footnotes. I think it's plenty specific. I think he and Amir Muhammad have done their homework -- so why don't you do yours? Kindly start with the brief reading list with which I've provided you above.


-- Preeta