Thursday, 18 February 2016

Book Marks: Copyrights For Compilations, Etc

A piece on issues of joint authorship and copyright with regards to The Diary of Anne Frank. Owners of the book's copyright contend that Anne Frank's father Otto was a co-author (he wrote parts of the book) and, thus, the copyright should completely expire 50 years after Otto's death.

What caught my eye is this bit in the New Zealand Herald, which has ramifications for Malaysia as well: "Under the TPPA, we [in New Zealand] will have to extend the duration of copyright for literary works from 50 to 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies.

"...the book is likely to still be protected as a compilation whenever the legislative changes come in to force, but it will not have any impact on copyright that has already expired, like that in Anne's diaries."

Not sure how that works, but as a signatory to the TPPA ("unwilling", some would say), Malaysians in the book and publishing industry might want to pay close attention to developments in the trade pact.

Elsewhere:

  • Yang Jisheng, author of Tombstone, a book on China's Great Famine, has been barred from going to the US to accept award.
  • Ramin Ganeshram, author of A Birthday Cake for George Washington, spoke up about the controversy surrounding the book. Many of the comments are disheartening; the critics don't seem to want to let go.
  • Dream of the Red Chamber, China's greatest novel? Michael Wood, at The Guardian, thinks it's time Cao Xueqin's [紅樓夢] gets the attention it deserves.
  • Google opens Editions at Play, an online store for "books that can't be printed". Sounds like Google is also trying to catalyse the creation of digital books, those that work - and make sense - only in cyberspace.
  • "I don't think you're doing the artist or the audience or the art form itself any favor if you pat things on the head." In Salon, New York Times writer A.O. Scott speaks about "monsters of ego", criticism and "how Twitter makes his job more lively". Of course, Scott has a new book out, Better Living Through Criticism.
  • Fifteen words invented by authors, according to the blog by the Oxford Online Dictionary. Some of these are surprising.
  • Is the Malaysian Home Ministry and government going to appeal the lifting of ban on Irshad Manji’s book, Allah Liberty and Love? OH FOR GOODNESS'S SAKE TAK HABIS-HABIS CERITA NI SHOULD THIS EVEN BE PURSUED NOW?
  • "Hindu nationalists are now demonstrating that there are many ways to assassinate a writer." Pankaj Mishra on the forces involved in Arundhati Roy's trial for "contempt of court", which he (or whoever wrote the standfirst) calls "a crime against art and thought".
  • In The New Yorker, the story of New Directions, publisher of such titles as Eka Kurniawan's Beauty Is A Wound: "New Directions evolved as it did because its founder was as far-seeing in business as he was in matters of taste," writes Maria Bustillos. "[James] Laughlin wasn't looking to corner a market or to disrupt anything; his ambition was to create an institution that would last."
  • Publisher's Weekly is covering the Havana Book Fair 2016 and the US publishing mission to Cuba, which PW co-organised with the American promotion and book marketing company, Combined Book Exhibit. Insights include a glimpse of the Cuban publishing industry.
  • So, the presses for the UK's Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers are stopping in March as the paper goes fully digital. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch's tweet about it was met with derision. But things aren't rosy at Murdoch's News Corp either.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Tranquility (And Other Deliciousness) In Petaling Jaya

I'd planned to have a shorter title and reveal the name of the place only at the very end. And someone pointed out that there's no clear indication that "Melody" and my makan kaki were one and the same - duly noted.



The Augmented: Serving up tranquility (and other deliciousness) in Petaling Jaya

first published in The Malay Mail Online, 02 February 2016


Well-lit spaces. Soft music. A comfy chair. The promise of a good meal.

Lulled by the latter, I slumped further into my seat, melting into a mellow, contented blob. It'd been a long day, one of many, and the ambience hit the spot.

Months ago, Melody's little godbrother and his girlfriend brought Melody to this tiny place in SS2, Petaling Jaya. They were all blown away by its pasta dishes, and Melody became enamoured with something called a BCGT.


Tucked away from the main roads in SS2, The Augmented café is the
perfect spot to relax after a long day.


Last week, the makan kaki dragged me to an out-of-the-way bakery in Damansara Perdana, where this BCGT - a Belgian chocolate ganache tart - was made. For her, it had been a religious pilgrimage, after having stalked this bakery's social media feed for so long.

This evening, at this place, I experienced a bit of what she'd felt. Tucked away from the main roads in SS2, this café was how I'd imagine King Arthur's Avalon to be: bright, balmy, beatific, aired with angelic voices and soft lilting melodies.

At the back, a dining area and a reading nook, complete with bookshelves, a sofa and a cushioned, high-backed chair, added a homey albeit less Arthurian touch. Crowds, stay away.


The hearty Met Lambeef Pasta in creamy Lescure sauce. Don't let
the plating fool you - it can be filling.


Picking a dish to wind the day down with was hard, because the menu only sported less than 10 items, including several breakfasts and a few pasta dishes. I eventually settled on one, and earmarked another for my return.

Some time later, a savoury note perfumed the air in front of my nose, followed by the warmth and colours emanating from the plate on my table. There it was, my "Met Lambeef pasta" in Lescure cream sauce. I straightened up.

I loved how the sauce seasoned the chunks of lamb-and-beef mince so well, though it could use less salt. I wasn't prepared for the diced onions, which crackled as I chewed - was it part of the sauce or the meat?


The roasted garlic shiitake Poachero spaghetti (partaken during
another visit) is light on the gut and a delight to the taste buds


Despite the pasta being so rich and delicious, and me being famished, I slowed down. I had no other plans for the evening.

Of course, slices of BCGT were in the chilled display case, adorned with a coat of cocoa powder on top. Unfortunately, I'd already had a slice at the Damansara Perdana bakery; weeks would pass before I'd even think of another taste of what's just a wedge of smooth, rich chocolate. And it was too late for coffee.

Passing the time here at an empty table, however, seemed inappropriate. But my gut didn't fancy any more things with cream. Thank goodness for the banana and walnut slice, which the lady boss warmed up in a toaster oven. I believe it's the only cake here that's baked in-house.


Banana and walnut slice: eat one and gift your friends another.


Surprisingly crumbly. Subtly fragrant with banana. No discernible hunks of walnut anywhere.

Belly full, I melted back into my seat, swathed in contentment.

Dare I tell the makan kaki where I was now? If I did, I would risk a scolding for not bringing her here. "You've been here already!" I'd protest, which she would ignore.

And she did say she was unwell...

So I ordered another banana and walnut slice as a peace offering. She was in no condition to stomach anything rich and creamy, either.


When you're in SS2, Petaling Jaya, look out for this sign.
Step inside and get away from it all.


I informed the lady boss of my intentions with the bagged banana slice, triggering a flood of questions.

The Augmented
149, Jalan SS 2/6
47300 Petaling Jaya

Mon-Wed, Fri: 11am-10pm
Sat-Sun: 10:30am-10pm

Closed on Thursdays

Pork-free

+60 3-7865 0728

Facebook page
"Has she been here before? What's her name? Maybe she's one of our regulars. Can you describe her?"

When I did and no bells rang, she asked for my name. Caught off guard, I froze. Few café proprietors endeavour to learn about their clientele. I wasn't ready to open up, though, not this evening. It was late, and I had something to do.

I sped into the night with a slice of Avalon in a brown paper bag for Melody, hoping it would help get her back on her feet. As a fellow foodie, I know the agony of having your movements and diet limited by illness.

And there's so much she's missing out on.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Book Marks: Buying Used Books, Geraldine Brooks

After news that used bookstores are making a comeback of sorts, the question of the ethics of buying used books popped up, since not a cent from such sales goes to the authors. This commentator sees no shame in that. To end this note, I'm pulling something Neil Gaiman said in that piece:

What’s important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read.



Pulitzer-winner [Geraldine] Brooks "has never written a bad book", Sian Cain boldly proclaims in The Guardian:

The most confounding thing about Geraldine Brooks’s writing is how consistently good it is ... every book is remarkable. Working as a journalist did not beat the poet out of her – Brooks’s fiction is frequently beautiful, poetic at times, packed full of sentences to relish aloud – a river of “water as unlike our clear fast-flowing freshets as a fat broody hen to a hummingbird” in March; the hero who “walked through the woods like a young Adam, naming creation” in Caleb’s Crossing.

Cain also suggested five of Brooks's books for beginners and doubters to start with. Incidentally, someone reviewed Brooks's Foreign Correspondence some time back and seemed impressed with it. Might be a while before I can give Brooks's books a shot, though.



Ten things about Marco Ferrarese, novelist (Nazi Goreng), travel writer (Banana Punk Rawk Trails) and musician, in The Malay Mail Online. Have a taste (emphases theirs):

As a child with a stammer problem, I was very lonely and got easily attracted to horror films. They helped me feed my anger. The covers of early Iron Maiden albums that arrived from England were horror, too. I loved how Eddie held that pickaxe on the cover of Killers. My parents hated it, of course, which was another great reason to go for it.

...English is my second language and requires more attention and editing, but I know that almost everything I write in English will get published. On the other hand, Italian is a much richer language, as we have adjectives, expressions and shades of meaning that you can’t recreate in English. But most of what I write in Italian remains unpublished, because there’s no interest nor money for writers in Italy.

Also:

  • In a restructuring exercise, British education publisher Pearson plans to axe 4,000 jobs. The AFP report picked up by The Malaysian Insider states that "Pearson has been hit hard by a difficult education market in the United States, where fewer people are going to university, instead seeking to go straight into employment in a buoyant jobs market. It has also been impacted in the UK as high costs have seen fewer students take vocational courses."
  • "...bookshops are portals ... a good bookshop shows us what we didn’t know we wanted." Bookseller and author Jen Campbell on the magic of bookstores and how important that magic is to children.
  • The e-book industry is in a state of decline, apparently. I guess it's harder to treat more expensive and bulky paper books as throwaway items, unlike digital files, which you can hoard till kingdom come.
  • Celebrated sci-fi author Zen Cho will be holding court in Kinokuniya KLCC on 13 February 2016, from 11am to noon. Drop by and say "hi". Maybe buy a book. And get your copy signed.
  • Some weeks back, an online hailstorm erupted over a supposedly lewd passage in a school-syllabus novel, Pantai Kasih (Love Beach), said to be a sex scene. The novel is not about beaches but a private hospital for VVIPs. Khairul Nizam Bakeri, author and social media editor for ASTRO Awani, read the book first and here's what he found (in Malay). In short: not lewd.
  • A Snow White book based on the Disney adaptation was removed from a school library in Qatar for its "indecent" illustrations. What, more "indecent" than the Gulf nations' poor record in its treatment of migrant labourers?

I've dropped the ball for a bit to write up my recent trip to Melaka with several others, which would turn out to be the longest writing project of my life so far at almost 10,000 words. A shame I didn't take enough good pictures for it.