quaint little rutted bucket

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I write, therefore i am. Or whatever.

Harharhar! My research adviser is officially hunting me down for a draft that should have been done by the tenth! Weeeee. She said that the editor for the journal is actually expecting to seee a draft by the end of the month. Wow, and I haven't even gotten anything down yet. Hahaha.

Screw expectations--I'm so sick of that thing already, I feel like barfing off to the wind whenever it comes up. (Wow. What colorful language! Where in the world did I get that anyway? :)

I haven't done the album reviews yet, for some reason. (Or dahil wala lang talaga ako sa mood sumulat lately for some time now) Anyway, they *really* are beautiful jazz albums: the special edition of Mishka Adams' God Bless The Child, Rod Stewart and Steve Tyrell's excellent Thanks for the Memory, the fourth volume in Rod's American Songbook series, and Chris Botti's When I Fall in Love. All are highly recommended, especially to fellow jazz fans.

Hmm. What else? Oh yees. I have a new toy.

A Palm Tungsten E2! Although I still have to get removable media for it, which runs at around 2200. Can't charge it, since the Palm is on installment on my card. Harhar.

Sigh. And I am planning something big. Something that I should have done a long time ago. Something that builds upon what I know as a writer. Can you take a guess?

Harhar. I'll try to keep posting updates... once I get around to finishing my independent research, that is. :D

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Books: Nicholas Sparks' "The Wedding"

I picked this one up after seeing the relatively cheap price for a paperback and wanting something decent to read over the break. I've read about and heard of Sparks before, and watched a movie that was inspired by one of his novels, but for some reason, I realized that I haven't tried reading a single novel he did. So, out of curiosity, and the need for some mush (No good mush movies lately :), I picked this one up.

Its hard to competently answer why I picked this one up over "The Notebook", as "The Wedding" is supposed to be a "sequel" of sorts to the former. Perhaps its because of the fairly nice cover design (a metallic blue title plate with embossed letters, set against the Creekside lake in the story), or the blurb at the back. When things are going as bad as it is now, its hard to ignore something that says "... a love story about a flawed hero trying to right his wrongs."

Our story starts off in New Bern, with our protagonist, failed-husband-successful-lawyer Wilson Lewis recounting how his relationship with his wife, Jane, had changed over the course of time. After forgetting their anniversary, Wilson vowed to change for his love for Jane, and truly become the father, husband, friend and partner he should have been in the first place. The journey takes him literally back in time, when he and Jane were still young and passionately in love with each other. His rediscovery takes him back to the inspiring love story between Noah and Allie, and finally realize how the things we often take for granted in our everyday lives can mean so much to the people we love and care about.

In its entirety, the book isn't that bad, and in fact, I would even rate it as an above average piece of work for a novel of this length and genre. The plot is fairly unique, as its rare for us to see a mainstream literary work tackling how a middle-aged man would go the distance to bring back to life the flames of a once-passionate relationship. Building upon the humble, touching story told in "The Notebook", Sparks was able to create a certified tearjerker that isn't out of touch with reality.

While the novel itself rates well in my book, I do have my gripes about it. For one, it is not a beginner's text. Sparks makes use of flashback more than a handful of times, and the effect is quite disjointing, even for a competent reader like me. In the first couple of times it was used, it wasn't really much of an issue, but soon after, I did notice that it seemed as if the use of flashback was something that formed part of the writing style of this novel. That approach to writing can make reading this one a bit tedious.

Character development is top notch. Sparks definitely put much work in how the characters' individual traits are revealed, and the results do wonders for the novel itself. It is a shame, however, that their children were somewhat sidelined. Sparks could have made them more alive and improved the novel even more if one or two of their children had a more instrumental and active participation in the novel itself. But really, the work he did with Noah, Wilson, Jane, and to a certain extent, Anna, is already enough to make this one a definite winner in the character development department.

Image creation was also well done. Sparks has his own unique way of creating quaint images, and this helps much in setting the mood and the pace of the story. At the start of the novel, Sparks even went on about Wilson dabbling in constellations--which, in my book, is a really romantic thing. He also never fails to successfully recreate lush images of scenery where his characters are set against.

In reading 'The Wedding', I also learned that Sparks' novels works and reads best in long stretches and not in staggered sessions. In my experience, it really takes time for Sparks to get the emotions of his novel into me. Reading it for anything less than, say thirty minutes doesn't really have the same effect compared to reading it for around an hour or so, when I can easily let my tears well and drop.

In its entirety, 'The Wedding' is a beautiful story filled with practical lessons on living and loving. Pragmatic and noble, its not hard to see why Sparks has gained the trust of legions of fans, particularly among the women. 'The Wedding' is a lovely modern tale of chivalry that truly inspires hope in a humble way.