Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Kedai Fixi's First Birthday, Jepun and PJ Confidential

Last Saturday afternoon, Fixi launched two books as part of a celebration of Kedai Fixi's first year in business. According to Fixi boss Amir Muhammad, the do couldn't be held on the actual date, 11 April, because he'll be in London for this year's London Book Fair.

Fixi boss Amir Muhammad emceed the event

There was cake, curry puffs, doughnuts and seri muka. Some of the contributing writers were asked questions about the book by Amir and walked off with a goodie bag. Two absent contributors even got their representatives to read their very brief "acceptance speeches".

The two books were PJ Confidential, an anthology of shorts set in the city of Petaling Jaya in Selangor; and Jepun ("Japan"), a novel by Lokman Hakim based on his travels there.

Terence Toh, the editor of the anthology, noted how interesting the submissions were. Fixi's collection includes some of the most mind-bending, disturbing stories, many involving elements criminal, supernatural and surreal, and I guess many contributors went with that.

Terence Toh, editor of PJ Confidential

Probably why I don't feel like contributing, apart from my laziness and inability to tell stories.

Here were the contributors who made it to the event. Strangely, I remember almost nothing of the first half, and online searches yielded almost nothing (15/04/2016: fixed most of it and, boy, was my memory SHIT that day). Apologies for this bunch of poor photos.

The first contributor to step up was Heidi Shamsuddin. I think she's already an author with several books out. In her own words, her story, "Neighbourhood Watch", is "a disturbing tale of domestic devilry".

Heidi Shamsuddin

Leon Wing wrote his contribution ("The Outing") in a way that didn't state what race the characters were. Amir congratulated Leon on finding the building, because people still mistake Jaya Shopping Centre for Jaya One.

Leon Wing

Next was Catalina Rembuyan, who'd just been traumatised (not in a bad way) in acting class with Joe Hasham and had completed her first acting role. "So if anybody wants to be a thespian, regardless of gender" Amir cracked, "maybe she can hook you up with Joe." Or something like that. Hers is called "The Sick Man and the Satellite" - or something similar.

Catalina Rembuyan

Catalina could only sign a few copies before she had to leave. As she'd expected, she fell sick later that day. Get well soon, Cat.

Tan Jee Yee - at least, I think it was Tan Jee Yee. My memory
was spectacularly rubbish during the first half.

Maybe he was Tan Jee Yee, I don't know. His story, "A Desire is a House in Bukit Gasing", is the closest thing to erotica, Amir divulged, "so if that's your thing you can skip to his story." Tan denies it is in any way autobiographical; he decided to write something about Bukit Gasing, which he said was among the least visited parts of Petaling Jaya.

Lee Ee Leen - I think her story was about rats- no, sorry, that's
Angeline Woon's, which is titled "The Rats of SS2".

Lee's story is called "City As a Mammary", and odd play on the word "memory". I think it was about milk. Probably not of the squeamish - or lactose-intolerant.

Linges - I think he wrote about dogs in PJ Confidential ("Stray") and how
the dog in his household would stare at passers-by

Chris Quah's story, "Snatch Me If You Can", is about a snatch theft victim's desire for revenge, I believe.

Chris Quah

May Chong's story, "Flush", revolved around a school that sounds like a PJ-based missionary school (AHEM) but is not related to said school (AHEM). I think it's about a toilet ghost, and, according to Chong, any school of repute (AHEM) will have a toilet ghost. What, like Hogwarts and Moaning Myrtle?

May Chong

Then there was something about how she'd gone to a primary school for six years without realising that its toilet was said to be haunted. It sounded like she was dismayed over missing out on something cool.

Tilon Sagulu came from East Malaysia for the launch, joked Amir. But turns out the guy studies at nearby Universiti Malaya and lives in Section 17.

Tilon Sagulu

Amir noted the characters in his story are so vivid, as if part of something bigger. Tilon confirmed it, adding that the story could become part of a novel, perhaps.

Amir also pointed out how he liked the way one story segued into another. So it's not just editing but also the curating, Terence. Good job.

Masami Mustaza's story - involving panties and a cockroach - inspired the cover for the anthology. After mulling several concepts, Amir put out a call for photos he could use for the cover. In the end, Julya Oui's submission made the cut.

Masami Mustaza

No offence, but I'd be nervous with this in my house. I imagine swatting or spraying my bookshelf every time I glance at it. How do you spell it ... katsaridaphobia?

Masami-san stayed - or tried to stay - hidden until after Lokman Hakim's spot on stage, when someone pointed her out to Amir. Of course she deserves her time in the limelight.

Jepun was the second work by Fixi where a writer is sent to a destination to write about it - that's how it works, right? For Lokman, it was a music festival in Japan. It sounds normal compared to the first, Brazil by Ridhwan Saidi, where several threads were going on and I couldn't tell which one I was reading at times, so I stopped.

Lokman Hakim, author of the Malay-language novel, Jepun

Lokman wrote it as a novel because he felt more at home with the format; Jepun is his eighth. He claimed he wrote frequently because of his wild imagination.

Among the absentees were Foo Sek Han and Angeline Woon, who got their reps to read their speeches for them.

Selamat harijadi pertama, Kedai Fixi

Here's to more birthdays for Kedai Fixi.

Get your copy of PJ Confidential from Amazon, Kinokuniya, MPHOnline.com, or direct from Fixi. Kedai Fixi at Jaya Shopping Centre has the books in stock.


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