Archive for March, 2007

Comments Round-Up

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Say Lee shares his personal story, prompted by my post on Eldest Daughters for International Women’s Day. He is grateful to have had the chance to interact with his wife’s grandmother even if he never knew his own grandparents. He also says that he is the youngest boy of 13 children and his wife is the eldest of 10 children - wow, family reunions must need a huge banqueting hall! Pey joins the discussion again, picking up on his comment about the stubbornness of eldest daughters, being one herself and having an eldest daughter to deal with as a mum, too. Say Lee responds diplomatically saying that as the youngest boy, he was pampered and is grateful to his wife to help him learn better ways! Pey, by the way, is also going to try and find some pics of her mum and my mum in cheong sams - they were best pals back then (and still are) so I can’t wait to see the pics, if she can find them. And I agree with Pey that back then, there seemed to be a higher standard of dress and style than these days when we just slouch around in any old thing!

My post on the joys of malt loaf continues to be a popular one with cyclist Ronny commenting about butterless malt loaf.

Another reader, emigre, is going to enter a short story to Italian e-zine Buran. If her story and that of Jules is published in Italian over at that site, perhaps they will let me upload their English versions over here at Fusion View so we non-Italian speakers can appreciate their writing, too. What do you say, emigre and Jules?

Kenny Mah shares a shocking story - his blogging identity was stolen by a spammer who posted comments on Kenny’s site pretending to be Kenny and claiming he was a transgendered female-to-male. Kenny’s readers rallied to his defence and Kenny himself was able to take a step back and not over-react, though I am sure it was hugely upsetting. There will always be malicious people out on the web - as there are in the real world. But often, what comes out more strongly to shame such people is the humanity and warm-heartedness of others who come to the defence of the person attacked and also the inner strength of the person attacked. (I am deliberately avoiding the word “victim” which, I think, gives power to the malicious person.) I would also add that personally, I have huge sympathy and respect for people who are transgendered and the malicious claim about Kenny’s gender tells us a lot more about the lack of humanity of the person making that comment than about either Kenny or transgendered people.

The power of the web continues to fascinate. Silvia had a very personal response to the video of LonelyGirl15 - she instintively talked back to the video , a lone voice in her study reaching out to the lone girl alone in her study on the screen. Not to worry, Silvia, I talk back at my TV all the time whenever I watch a film that engages me in a visceral, emotive way - that’s why I find it hard to go to the movies in the public place!

Flash fiction writer Guy Hogan had a look at my invitation to write mini flashes or digital haiku on Twitter and sees it as a challenge. I hope he will rise to it as it would be great to see what a specialist flash fiction writer going even more micro might come up with!

Photo: thanks to bossladyranch.com

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Saturday, March 17th, 2007 at 7:00am

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Why I got fat in Malaysia

It was only one week. I was in KL for only one week. And yet, I seem to have got very round and chubby from all the eating I did.

My parents and I spent much of the time trying to work out which restaurants I absolutely had to go and eat at. I only had a limited number of mealtimes in my week - lunch and dinner times 7 days equal 14 meals only! I needed to maximise them efficiently - rather like the best 5 Malaysian books to bring back with me in my suitcase, I had to identify the best 14 meals to have.

Let me say that of those 14 meals, the ones below ranked in the top 3:

Pic 1: Roast Suckling Piggy at Green View Restaurant, Petaling Jaya. Crispy, crunchy pork crackling to die for!

Pic 2: Giant prawns in chilli and garlic sauce, also at Green View. The pic is a bit blurry as I was too excited by the site of them! Each one was larger than my hand and full of succulent, tasty flesh.

Pic 3: The best “char siu” (barbecued pork) in the world, with roast duck, curry chicken, sour spicy vegetable and “archar” (curry pickle) at Siew Ngap Fei, Pudu. In London, the char siu is usually dyed red to con you into thinking it’s barbecued but here, it is truly barbecued with a caramelly, crunchy juicy crust. I used up two lunches eating here!

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Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Friday, March 16th, 2007 at 7:00am

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The best Malaysian books for my suitcase

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A while back, I asked Sharon Bakar, the KL- based creative writing teacher, to recommend 5 books by Malaysian authors for me to take back with me to London when I went out to Malaysia for my week’s visit. She put the question to the readers of her blog and local readers and writers recommended a whole range of books. I limited it to 5 books in my request as that hopefully focused everyone on the best books that they could think of. I printed out their list and after one of my book events at an MPH bookstore while I was in KL, I bought the following books - in the end, more than 5 books after all!

A Malaysian Journey by Rehman Rashid - a personal memoir of one man’s journey to discover his homeland. The second edition has just come out, self-published by Rehman. In his introduction to the second edition, he writes movingly about how the success of the book co-incided with the collapse of his marriage and disasters in his journalism career. He had to bring the second edition out himself because no local publisher would touch it, due to elements of the subject matter. I have only just started reading it -he writes very well and evokes Malaysia vividly - and I am intrigued as to what elements in the book caused him such difficulty.

Silverfish New Writing 6 - a collection of short stories by various writers with a Malaysian connection. Some live abroad and others are Westerners living in Malaysia. The standard of writing is very high and the sense of place is stronger than in a number of the other short story collections I’ve come across. and I have been enjoying all the stories I’ve read so far.

This End of the Rainbow by Adibah Amin - a novel by a prominent Malaysian writer and columnist. I haven’t started it yet.

Dark City by Xeus aka Lynette Kwan - a collection of dark and macabre short stories. They are well-written and very readable though the first story made me a bit queasy with it’s graphic and detailed description of sexual abuse and rape, which for an Asian writer is pretty daring, I would say. Xeus has now turned editor and is calling for submissions of dark stories from other Malaysian writers for a second collection Dark City 2 - visit her blog to find out more. The one thing I’d like to see more of in these writings is a greater sense of place, a sense of Malaysia’s city/ cities as places which perhaps are characters in these dark stories or which may contribute to the darkness within the souls of the people who wander through these stories.

Write Out Loud - this was actually a gift by one of the short story writers whose story is in this collection, Ted Mahsun, a Fusion View regular reader and commenter. His surreal story about a a blender being rescued by alien electrical goods made me smile in its charming absurdity. Again, it would be good to get more of a sense that the stories in this collection are taking place in Malaysia - there is a feeling of generic “anyplace” about them which for me weakens their uniqueness as Malaysian stories.

Honk! if You’re Malaysian by Lydia Teh - this was a gift from the author when we met for lunch the other day. She has donated three copies for the Fusion View prize draw and generously added a fourth as my personal copy.

Photo: thanks to stockport.gov.uk

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Thursday, March 15th, 2007 at 7:00am

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Twittering Away

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I’ve just discovered a new blogging / messaging tool - Twitter, which allows me to post snippets of text via the web, a desktop application or my mobile phone. I have added a Live Updates! board in the middle sidebar to experiment with this tool. The idea is that I can mini-blog from wherever I am so long as I have a PC connection or my mobile phone.

You can see my twitterings page at http://twitter.com/fusionview and subscribe to the feed using a feed aggregator and you can also sign up from there to receive my twitterings on your mobile phone. And if lots of your friends and mine sign up, we can all receive updates of what each of us are doing anytime, anywhere. (Fortunately, you can set it so it doesn’t SMS you in the middle of the night or adjust it so you receive only some - or none - of your friends’ texts as you choose.)

Apparently, Twitter is so popular that the overload of people signing on caused a momentary glitch on their website. You can follow public texts from anyone and everyone on their homepage. News providers like the BBC update regularly with snippets of news. Senator John Edwards who is on a presidential campaign in the US uses it to update his potential voters on where he is and what he’s doing. For ordinary folk, it’s a chance to share our lives online every moment of the day and night that we have the strength and inclination to text.

“I text therefore I am”?

What I would really love to see are Twitterers who can write something interesting or thought-provoking in 140 characters so that I can have something worthwhile to read on my mobile phone - when I’m on the bus or hanging around waiting in between real-life events. So here’s a challenge to all you flash fiction writers and haiku poets, can you Twitter interestingly, uniquely, fascinatingly, challengingly to entertain, bewitch, bedazzle and enthrall the masses on their phones? Let me know if you have such a Twitter account and I’ll feature you on Fusion View!

PS. You can see my first attempt at mini flash fiction at http://twitter.com/fusionview/statuses/7739671

Photo: thanks to cs.sfu.ca

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Wednesday, March 14th, 2007 at 7:00am

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Win a copy of “Honk! If You’re Malaysian” by Lydia Teh

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While I was in Malaysia, I met up with Lydia Teh, the current No. 1 bestselling local author. We caught up for a late lunch and talked about writing and all things Malaysian. Lydia writes a column on English usage in The Star, a national newspaper in Malaysia and has already published a number of books, collecting together her essays about Malaysian life. She blogs at Life’s Like That at www. lydiateh.wordpress.com. She wrote as a Guest Blogger for Fusion View a while back, about writing and publishing in Malaysia and it was an email from her asking about writing and publishing in the UK that prompted me to start the Getting Published series here on this blog. This was the first time I met her and I found her warm and kind, just as she comes across in her writing.

Her book “Honk! if You’re Malaysian” came out late last year and has alread sold out its first print run. A second edition is on its way. The book is a collection of writings about being Malaysian and also about the hot topics in the recent Malaysian news - for example, she talks with great humanity about the kerfuffle last year where a couple were arrested for holding hands in public. She also writes about the stereotypes of the Chinese, Malays and Indians that make up Malaysia in a warm and witty way that reaches across racial boundaries. If you are Malaysian, this is a fun book that will make you laugh in recognition. If you are not Malaysian, “Honk!” is a great introduction to all things Malaysian.

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Lydia has generously donated three signed copies of “Honk! if You’re Malaysia” for the Fusion View prize draw. Winners will be chosen at random from my email subscribers list so do subscribe now if you haven’t already done so. Subscription is free and I will not use your email address for any other purpose. You can also unsubscribe at any time. You can view my subscription policy here.

The closing date for the prize draw is Monday 30 April 2007.


The Rules for the prize draw

1. The closing date for this draw is 30 April 2007. Within two weeks of that date, 3 winners will be picked at random from the list of subscribers.
2. I will notify the winners by separate emails and ask for your name and land address to which to send the prize. I will be entitled to assume that the name and address given is the name and address of the winning subscriber and I will not knowingly post the prize to any other person.
3. When I receive a winner’s land address, I will post the prize to them and delete their land address from my records.
4. I will post the name of the winners on this blog (but not the land address or email address) .
5. I will not enter into any other correspondence or discussion regarding the winners or regarding this or any prize draw and my decision on the winners and prizes is final. You may not substitute the prize offered for anything else.
6. I will post the prizes by the public postal system. I am not liable for any acts or omissions of the postal services in the UK or any other country.
7. Where the address is not in the UK, I am not liable for any taxes, duties, or customs or excise or import requirements that may be applicable in the country of receipt nor for ensuring compliance with any other laws, including but not limited to laws relating to copyright, censorship or any other matters that may arise regarding or in connection with the prize. These remain the liability of the recipient and it is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure compliance with the laws of their country.
8. By subscribing / entering this prize draw, you are confirming to me that you are over 18 or that you are over 13 and have the permission of your parent or guardian to subscribe/ enter this draw.
9. Your email address will remain on the subscription list (unless you unsubscribe) and will be entered into all future prize draws (unless otherwise stated). For my subscription policy, click here.

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Tuesday, March 13th, 2007 at 7:00am

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YouTube and Fiction

I have been fascinated by the furore over the YouTube videos of LonelyGirl15, which appeared to be the video diary of a beautiful young girl about her life and loves and which turned out to be a video fiction created by some Web filmmakers, complete with an online persona who responded to emails and comments.

Since the fiction was exposed, the series continues and fans still follow the show. You can watch one of the videos below:

You can go to LonelyGirl15’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=lonelygirl15

Wired magazine ran an in-depth investigative article - you can read the full article here.

As a storyteller/ fiction writer, I think this blending of reality and fiction is a terrific way to engage an audience and an innovative use of new technology. It brings to mind Orson Welles’s radio adaptation of “The War of the Worlds” that caused panic across America when listeners tuned in and thought they were listening to live reports of an alien invasion. I am also reminded of the spoof documentaries / mockumentaries “Spinal Tap”, “Best in Show” and last years “Confetti”.

In novels, especially in first person narratives, the intention is to draw the audience in to the life of the narrator as if it were a real life and as readers, we want to believe in the reality of the fiction. On TV at the moment, there is a seemingly unending thirst for reality TV - which is anything but: how real is the gimmicky set-up of putting people into a totally TV-created and -controlled environment and setting them gimmicky tests to perform? (I am not a fan at all of this form of entertainment… as you can probably guess). Yet, the fiction of LonelyGirl15 has a more real quality than those “reality” shows - probably because it was on YouTube: no-one would have believed it if it had been on TV because no ordinary person could get on TV in that same way. And even with the diarist being impossibly beautiful and extraordinarily articulate, the monologues being well-timed and clearly articulated, the production values being seriously high quality - all pointing to something more than a mere teenage girl in her bedroom - the millions who tuned in believed (wanted to believe?) that LonelyGirl was a real girl confessing all.

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Monday, March 12th, 2007 at 7:00am

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Xavier Salomon and Canaletto’s 18 Century Fusion Art

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Xavier Salomon, the curator of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, talks to me about his own pan-European roots and about the fusion art of Canaletto, the great Venetian painter who came to London in 1746. Canaletto painted famous London scenes with his Italian eye, staying in this vibrant city for 10 years. Xavier talks about what London might have been like at that time and why Canaletto came here for his painting. He also talks about his personal experiences of European art and what it takes to become the curator of one of the most respected art galleries in the UK.

You can listen to the podcast of our convesation (about 31 mins 50 sec) using the grey player below.

To find out more about the Canaletto exhibition, which is on until 15 April, go to www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk.

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Above: Canaletto’s painting of Westminster Bridge, London.
Top: Photo of Xavier, thanks to Ingrid Beazley

Listen Now:


icon for podpress  Standard Podcast: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download (6105)

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Sunday, March 11th, 2007 at 2:00pm

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Comments Round-Up

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I do read all the comments that are posted on Fusion View but instead of responding in the comments section, I have been writing a Comments Round-Up from time to time. This will give the notable comments and discussions more exposure and air-time on the main pages of Fusion View and allow more readers to enjoy them. There’s a new category called Comments Round-Up in the sidebar on the far right if you’d like to catch up on past comments. Enjoy!

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Commenting on my post on Hot-housing to retain creativity for writing, bibliobibuli notes that for some writers they can talk to much about their work whereas for others it seems to help them get it into shape for publication later. Kenny Mah draws an analogy with actors who do not want to over-rehearse so that they can keep their best acting for the actual take in the film - well, this is the first time I’ve been likened to Julianne Moore!

In response to my post about the content theft experienced by bestselling author Seth Godin, Tunku Halim agrees that it’s dangerous for writers to put their potentially saleable material on the web. Jennifer adds “how many people will actually take the time to sue?”. With my lawyers hat on, I would say that taking action in court is long, expensive and exhausting and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless it’s likely you will get a huge amount of compensation…. Darren clarifies an error in my post, saying “The Creative Commons licenses offer the option of NC (Non-Commercial), which prohibits others from making commercial use of your work. Seth Godin did not use the NC option, and therefore opened himself up to having his work sold by others.” - thanks for clarifying.

A number of commenters have enjoyed my phoneblogging experiment from Malaysia, including Pey, bibliobibuli and Tunku Halim Rj suggested using the wifi and internet facilities at cybercafes and Starbucks - in the end, I didn’t have time to do any internetting but I saw many people hanging out at various cafes at the malls with their laptops, drinking cappuccinos and surfing - so civilized! The Angry Medic was reminded of how much he missed Malaysian food - ah yes, all we ex-pat Malaysians know that craving in our bellies and it was certainly fantastic to enjoy a week’s worth of the delicious, spicy cooking of home.

Jules Yim seems excited by the call for submissions from Italian magazine Buran and may submit a story. Let me know how you get on, Jules, and I’ll add a link to your story if it’s accepted by Buran.

Marc has added a comment to the film I showed awhile back about the Stanford prison experiment - he refers us to the films on Abu Graib prison which includes “background research on human ability to inflict injury to others when told to by an authority figure”. The film is “quite disturbing”, he adds. I will certainly take a look but may have to steel myself for it….

My cousin Pey comments that the women in my family are always so stylish re my post on Eldest Daughters. Yes, my Mum and Grandma have always been stylish. As a tomboy, I always felt so scruffy and slouchy beside them! My poor Mum still tries to buy me make-up and pretty jewellry only to be greeted by a lukewarm grunt…

And my favourite piece of news is from Kenny Mah. I met him at the KL Book Events and told him that I had read his mini-short stories on his blog - go to his pdf document Broken Mornings on his blog - and I thought that he wrote well. I suggested that he work them up into longer short stories and he was sure to have a chance of getting something published. Kenny has added a comment saying that since we spoke in KL, he has taken my advice and shown his writing to an editor - and he is now working them up into longer pieces with a view to publication: go for it, Kenny!

Photo of cattle round-up: thanks to aito.co.uk

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Friday, March 9th, 2007 at 7:00am

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Eldest daughters

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Marina Mahathir, the internationally respected Malaysian writer and journalist, circulated an email to Malaysian bloggers for International Womens Day. She writes, “March 8 is International Women’s Day. In solidarity with women all over the world, we would like to invite all Malaysian women bloggers ( and pro-women men bloggers) to celebrate this special day by appending the attached IWD logo and linking your blogsite to the IWD website (this is a condition of using the logo) at http://www.internationalwomensday.com. We would also like you to dedicate a post (or more) to yourself, the women in your lives or simply to ruminate on the state of women today. Let’s do it collectively and simultaneously on March 8.”

This post is dedicated to the eldest daughters who came before me.

My Grandma, my Mum’s mother, had always been for me a strong, dignified presence in the family. We did not always see eye to eye and as a girl, I sulked whenever she tried to correct my posture whenever I slouched. But I always loved and respected her and loved to hear the stories she would tell about her childhood in China, the clever eldest daughter of a Presbyterian minister. She passed on that love of storytelling to my Mum, her eldest daughter, who also filled my childhood with stories about her own childhood, about our family and also about the books she had read and the films she had seen.

I did not know my Great-Grandmother very well although she lived till I was a young teenager. She spoke Teochew, a dialect of Chinese that I did not speak and I was most comfortable communicating in English. The strongest image I have of her is the story that Grandma told me of how her mother was a young girl washing clothes in a river in China when my Great-Grandfather, a young man studying at the nearby seminary, came upon her while on a walk with his friends. Their eyes met across the dancing waters and well, here we all are, generations later.

I found this photo below of the four eldest daughters. On the far left is my mother, aged 24 at the time. Next to her is my Great-Grandmother, Grandma’s mother, who would have been around 80 then. Then there’s Grandma in the polka dot cheong sam, aged 49. Finally, there is me - just under 1 year old then. Today, I am not far off the age Grandma was at the time of the photo - but still slouching, I’m afraid.

Grandma loved this photo of us all and she would often look at it with me over the years. She would say to me, “You are the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter.” It makes me feel proud still.

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Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Wednesday, March 7th, 2007 at 10:39pm

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Call for Submissions by Italian e-zine Buran

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I received this email from an Italian e-zine Buran a week or so ago. If you are a writer or aspiring writer - especially if you are from Asia - and would like to see your work published online and in Italian, contact Flaviano Fillo at Buran with your writings or to find out more - his email address is at the end of his email.

Dear Yang-May Ooi,

I’m writing (and reading your blog) from Italy.
I am involved in some literary projects regarding the web.
Now a new project is about a web magazine named Buràn (http://www.buran.it)

In the new magazine Buràn we host foreign (for us) bloggers and writers,
from every part of the world.

The aim is to show what we call “Invisible Writing”: stories that we
usually are not able to read because of the language (chinese, arab and so
on) or because they are fading away into the great ocean of the web.
We are collecting stories from all over the world.

I read your blog, and appreciated it very much.

We would really like to publish something from you or from the people who
read Fusion View.

Our magazine is divided in two different parts: the first part hosts
stories (fiction and non-fiction) about a subject chosen by us (for the
next issue it will be: “The City”).

The second part host stories (fiction and non-fiction) regarding subjects
chosen by authors. There will be no resctrictions about themes.

We are interested in stories published on-line; if they’re published also
on paper, no problem.

About lenght: it should be good for us to get stories possibly composed by
about 5,000 to 10,000 characters.

About the rights: you’ll keep on owning all the rights about your stories
. Buràn is a no-profit project. It’s a web publication, everybody is able
to read it online; nobody will be allowed to use the italian version for
economic purposes.

Everybody (authors, translators, webmaster) join the projet for free.
No honorarium, unfortunately! Just a link to your website, and your name on an italian literary magazine that’s becoming very popular, and a lot of people reading your words and
your world.

If you are interested in our project, please contact me at
flaviano.fillo@libero.it or at redazione@buran.it

Thank you very much for your kind attention.
I hope to hear from you soon.
Best

Flaviano

PS We collect stories in original languages and than translate them in italian.

Next deadline: 19 march

About charaters: I don’t mean number of words, but number of letters and blanks (i.e. “Yang-May” has 8 characters). But consder the numbers of characters just as a suggestion, not a “must”.

People don’t have to mark their submissions as fiction or non fiction.

About authors biography, we link to authors blog or site.

The first issue of Buràn counted 10,000 hits; many blogs from many regions of the world linked to it. Our stories has been about; A white farmer in Zimbabwe, Africa; A year in a scientific base in Antarctica; Imaginary People in Mexico; A girl who never stops crying in Argentina; A murder in Korea and so on (from 18 Countries).

Posted by Yang-May Ooi on Wednesday, March 7th, 2007 at 7:00am

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Fusion View is created by Yang-May Ooi, author of The Flame Tree and Mindgame, legal thrillers set in Malaysia and London, first published by Hodder & Stoughton.

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