Monthly Archives: June 2005

Kaohsiung City Film Library (photo)

Kaohsiung City Film Library (高雄市電影圖書館), Taiwan


Guji Guji


Dan Bloom profiles children’s book writer/illustrator Chen Chih-yuan (陳致元) in the July issue of Taiwan Review. An earlier version of the article, discussing Chen’s translation into Japanese, appeared in The Foreigner – Japan. Chen’s book Guji Guji tells the story of a crocodile raised by ducks.

"My children’s book is, of course, a book for kids, but it contains themes that I feel are important. These are social issues that need to be discussed in all nations, including Taiwan, where ethnic issues make headlines all the time," Chen says. "Guji Guji is more than a pretty, syrupy children’s book for the library shelf. It contains a very important theme, I feel, and I guess it resonated in multi-ethnic America, too, where people from many different backgrounds have come together to form a complicated national identity."

Chen’s Guji Guji has appeared on The New York Times Bestseller list, and his books have been translated into English, Japanese, Korean, French and Hebrew. Guji Guji and On My Way to Buy Eggs were published in the United States by Kane / Miller. Chen is a native of Pingtung, Taiwan.

Technorati Tag(s) – books.

Urban Renewal in Taiwan

As more of Taiwan’s manufacturing base is moved to China, the land where many Taiwanese factories and warehouses once stood is becoming fallow. The current issue of Dialogue magazine explores how such areas in Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taiwan’s other cities might be retasked and redeveloped. For inspiration, Dialogue points to how New York is contending with its own redevelopment of Hudson Yards (on the westside of Manhattan) and Battery Park City, including how New York’s bid for the Olympics fits into the renewal plans. The current issue also discusses urban redevelopment in Barcelona.

Workmanlike Story Anthology

Jai Claire says the Best American Short Stories 2004 largely bores her.

They’re all very well done of course, but not only to they sound
extremely similar in overall ‘tradition’ to which they belong but none
of them have any POETRY in them. Of course all the sentences are smooth
and extremely competent but they don’t SING, or dazzle or have any true
rhythm. None of them are interested in capturing the cadences of the
characters, the cadence of the situation, the cadence of the story as
whole. They all read like sentences from essays. In fact, I have read
more journalism with a greater feel for rhythm and poetry than these
stories. It seems they writers are so concerned with delineating
character and drowning us in mainly skippable details that they forget
creation of atmosphere through words, that they forget to make their
story sing with a rhythm of its own.

She tells us which stories she liked and disliked here.

Camera 2.0

Joerg Colberg is worried that the move to digital photography means that camera manufacturers now have us on an upgrade treadmill.

Another "nice" side effect of digital photography is that computer
companies tend to "upgrade" their software and hardware so you’ll have
to keep buying new stuff. For film cameras, this effect did exist to
some extent – as geeks went nuts over which lens was really sharpest –
but digital will easily take the cake. We will witness how digital
photography will be like using a computer – you just have to buy a new
one every two years if you want to benefit from advances being made.
And make no mistake, companies will introduce enough "improvements"
that will make you buy new stuff (incl. slight changes in image formats
that will result in incompatibilities). As I said I have been using
computers for 20 years now,and it still baffles me how the vast
majority of people doesn’t appear to mind being bamboozled into this
constant "upgrading".

Say It Hot

D.H. Lawrence:

Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.

Pieces of Ishiuchi

Newsweek International profiles an exhibit at the Venice Biennale by photographer Miyako Ishiuchi.

Her series "mother’s 2000-2005—traces of the
future," on view at the Biennale, features elegant close-ups of her
late mother’s personal effects, from undergarments to lipstick.  […] Ishiuchi
developed the series after her mother passed away five years ago.
Though the two had never gotten along, Ishiuchi was grief stricken. "I
couldn’t throw away her things," she says. Instead, she photographed
them, as a way to come to grips with her death—and life.

(Writer Kay Itoi also posted her article on her blog.) Ferdinand of the Japan Photo blog
quotes Japanese Art Scene Monitor on the exhibit, and tell his readers
why he is a fan of an earlier Ishiuchi series called 1947. SK Josefsberg Studio has a brief bio of Ishiuchi.

Peinan Performers (photo)

Members of a Peinan performance group keep time for their fellow dancers during a rehearsal in Chihpen, Taiwan. The Peinan are one of Taiwan’s aboriginal tribes.

Peinan Dancers (photos)

A boy (above photo) waits for members of a young troupe of Peinan aborigine dancers (photos below) to finish rehearsal in Chihpen, Taiwan.

The Email Novel

Novelist Michael Betcherman and his co-author David Diamond are emailing their novel to readers, installment by installment.

I’m a Toronto writer and co-author of The Daughters of Freya, a
groundbreaking mystery/thriller that has been receiving a lot of
favourable media attention (including a feature in today’s Newsday),
and which I hope you’ll consider writing about.

The project involves a new way of publishing on the Internet. The story
itself – about a journalist investigating a sex cult in Marin County –
unfolds through emails exchanged among the characters. But instead of
reading them in a book, readers get them as part of their regular email
– 4-5 a day over the three weeks it takes for the mystery to unfold.
It’s a modern version of the serialized novels popularized by Dickens,
with the same built-in element of suspense – readers can’t turn a page
to find out what happens next, they have to wait for the next email to

The project mirrors the way people actually use the Internet: readers
open an email – and read an email. And just like regular email, ours
link to external sites, ones we’ve created specifically for the
project, with newspaper and magazine articles, photographs, and other
content, that is part of the mystery.

Betcherman and Diamond told Newsday  that they thought the format was one of the best ways for unknown authors to break into the market.

Convinced that a big-time publisher would never bite at a debut novel from two literary novices, co-authors Michael Betcherman and David Diamond took "The Daughters of Freya," a mystery centered around a California sex cult, directly to cyberspace, giving readers quick, cheap access to their tale.

See also "Shorter is Better" (SMS novels).

Technorati Tag(s) – books.