69 by Ryu Murakami

This book is really smart and funny.The dialogs here remind me of "The Catcher in the Rye". At first, I thought that Ryu Murakami has something related to Haruki Murakami (one of my favorite authors) since their last names are similar (naive thought), but it turns out that there's only a coincidence, nothing more.

The style of the writings are also very different. If Haruki Murakami is a bit serious with weird things here and there, while Ryu Murakami's writing is really simple and entertaining.

Particularly for this novel, Ryu writes that this novel is a happy novel and he himself writes it with full enthusiasm.

The setting was back in 1969, a vivid period, where the baby boomers came out and believed that they could change the world. The story is about a high school student, Ken Yazaki who as a teenager has a lot of energy and so many dreams to explore. He really cares with the things happen around him. To make other friends realize this, he sometimes undertakes action that could be considered dangerous.

As an unusual student, Ken has a not- too-good relationship with his teachers who acclaim him as a naughty student. For his favorite girl, Lady Jane, Ken decides to conduct a small revolution, just to attract the girl's attention, see how 'creative' he is. He also manages a film festival with his friends for all high school students.

Reading this novel could recharge your energy, like the following quote:
" To live a happy life, we need energy
it is a struggle
to date, I still continue the struggle"

Ryu is a recipients of numerous prestigious awards in japan. He introduces the Japanese pop culture style. People recognize him as a humorous and happy person. He once said that, "I actually don't like to work, so I just want to finish my jobs and then have fun."

Well, it must be nice to have a friend like him. His happiness and positive thoughts may spread and influence his surrounding. I'm curious about his other book (already translated in bahasa) "In the Miso Soup", is it as interesting as this one?

After Dark

This 244 pages novel looks thin compared with other Haruki Murakami's books. The story sets in Tokyo during the spooky hours between midnight and dawn (about 7 hours). The theme is still about loneliness and alienation.

It tells about Mari Asai, a 19-year-old-girl who just kill her time reading a book at Denny's (a restaurant) and accidentally meets a guy, Takahashi. It turns out that Takahashi is a friend of Mari's sister, Eri Asai.

Then the story moves to Eri Asai's bed room. She lies in bed, asleep. She's been sleeping for almost 2 months. Weird? yeah, Murakami's trademark. Just enjoy, don't ask. There's no conclusions. It just flows.

There's still a 30ish woman, Kaoru, comes to Denny's asking for Mari's help since Mari speaks Chinese and Kaoru needs to speak to Chinese prostitute who has just been beaten up in the nearby 'love hotel' Kaoru manages.

Like in many of Murakami's other novels, the conscious and unconscious states of mind play large parts within this book. Also it's quite interesting to read Murakami's take on urban life in Japan and making the city itself a living, breathing creature. We also get the pictures of night life in Japan, not detail but interesting.

Kungfu Panda

Yesterday's history
Tomorrow's mystery
Today's a gift
(that's why it's called present')

The movie 's great. It's hilarious. Wildly entertaining. Go and watch the movie. I bet you'll guling-guling ketawa. I did. After quite sometimes, I've never laughed as much as I did during the Kungfu Panda movie. Whoa.....some stress go away.

The Undomestic Goddes

Chiclit? Yup, I know it's so........ not me. A friend of mine insisted me to read the books of Sophie Kinsella. She said this is different. The stories are funny and smart. She even borrowed me her book of "A Confession of A Shopaholic". Ok...ok....I reluctantly read it and couldn't stop it and kept 'cekikikan' and kept saying 'gue banget'.

Then, I went to Gramedia, saw this book "The Undomestic Goddess" and also there's a 20% discount, don't laugh, I bought it. I had to put aside Haruki Murakami's book and started reading this book and enjoyed it very much.

The book is about Samantha, a lawyer in a big law firm in London. She's very busy with her jobs, no time for fun since she has a dream to become a partner in the law firm. Work...work...work... Until one day, she makes a mistake that cause a big disaster. It wrecks her career.

She feels depressed. Going on a train and arrives in the middle of nowhere. She accidentally starts a totally new life as a housekeeper. She meets a great guy. They fit each other and finally live a happy life. So simple. What a nice story.

One of my dreams to become a full time mom suddenly emerges after finishing this book. Just like Samantha, I also want to enjoy my life. Enjoy the sunrise, the flowers, feel the fresh air, the weekends, play with my two-lovely- children, not annoyed by the meeting, the drafting, the reviewing, the auditing, and all other ing-activities. After 12 years dealing with all these stuffs, is it the time to leave it all behind and simply become a domestic goddess?????

The Virgin Suicides

The second book of Jeffrey Eugenides that I've read after the incredible "Middlesex". This story took place in the early 1970s, in the suburb of Michigan, there's a very religious family the Lisbon. They're just ordinary people with ordinary life. They have five daughters, Cecilia (13 yrs old), Lux (14 yrs old), Bonnie (15 yrs old), Mary (16 yrs old) and Therese (17 yrs old).

Until one day, their youngest daughter, Cecilia tries his first suicide by cutting her wrist hand, but it fails. She tries again and this time succeeds.

After this eerie moment, big changing happens in the Lisbon family. Mr and Mrs Lisbon are very shocked and eventually become depressed. Mrs Lisbon turns to a very strict and over protective mother, she would never allow her girls to go out and hang out with boys. They isolate themselves. No contact from outside.

This situation really affects the Lisbon sisters' psychological condition. Moreover, they are in their pubertal age who are eager to make friends, but unfortunately their parents never recover from the tragedy of Cecilia. The parents' depression cause their daughters mental disorders.

How poor they are, their parents condition lead them into abnormal life. Finally, they kill themselves one by one in different ways. Their deaths become unsolved mystery.

Reading this book makes me realize how heavy the burden of parents are. They have to be responsible not only for providing the good food but also a safe surrounding. Some experts said that a child's development mostly influenced by his/her surrounding.

Still, it's a good book. If you love a mystery book, this is yours. The setting is 'dark'. Just read it on Friday night, it's perfect (exaggerating).

This novel has been adapted into a movie directed by Sofia Copolla in 1999.

The Journey, from Jakarta to Himalaya

Another book about traveling, written by Gola Gong, for Hai Magazine readers must be familiar with his name. He wrote the famous story of "Balada si Roy" in 1980s.

Unfortunately, not as I expect before, the atmosphere that I've got from this book is awfully different compared with other traveling books, such as: "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert or "The Naked Traveler" by Trinity, usually after reading those kinds of books, I was eagerly willing to travel, even becoming a backpacker (in my dreams). On the contrary, this Gola Gong's book really turns my mood down. Instead of traveling, I just feel that I want to stay at home and become a couch potato.

I don't know. Maybe, the setting of the book. The writer tells the story in a flashback style. He started with his father's illness, hospitalized and finally passed away, and also the writer himself at that time was sick and hospitalized. Other reasons are the countries chosen by the writer, mostly are under developed countries, such as: Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and India.

No wonder if the story was about poverty, hungry people, criminals, hot and dusty countries, even in the last part, when the writer was in Pakistan, he almost got raped by a homosexual guy. This scary moment really turned the writer down. His mental reached the lowest level. He suddenly changed his plan to continue traveling to Europe and went back to Indonesia.

Still, I admire him with this adventure, although maybe not as I long to but people have their own ways to choose their own paths and enjoy them. I just thought that this one is not my cup of coffee.

Still, I have to do something to change my gloomy mood, let me think first, how about a cup of ice cream (postpone the diet for a moment) or a better idea, going shopping? hihi....as I wish.

Eat, Pray, Love

This is a brilliant book. It's a true story, written by Elizabeth Gilbert, telling about one woman's search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia.

It's about the writer, who was in her early thirties had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want- husband, country home, successful career- but instead of feeling happy, she felt consumed by panic and confusion.

After got a divorce and a crushing depressive, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature set against the backdrop of three different cultures, pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesia island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

She travels for a year, 4 (four) months in every country (wow...what a brave decision!!!). First, Italy, where she studies Italian and eats a lot of good Italian food and also walks along the cities. She makes many good friends there and really treasures the moment there.

Next country is India. She has hard time there. Living in an Ashram. She has to concentrate and do the meditation. She gets best buddy there, Richard from Texas, who happens to give a lot of great ideas. Richard's presence at this Ashram becomes her great and amusing sense of security.

The last place to explore is Indonesia. She stays in Bali, where she encounters a lot of great things. She meets her old friend, Ketut Liyer, the medicine man, the new best friends, Yudhi, a musician who used to live in New York with his wife but after 9/11 tragedy was deported to Indonesia, and the last one is Wayan, a healer and a divorce lady with one smart little daughter. The most important person is Felipe, a Brazilian man, who finally declared as Gilbert's soul mate.

Reading this book is really enjoyable. The Italian part is fun, the India part is a bit 'serious', since she's looking for devotion here, the last part, Bali is fabulous. My favorite.

Many touching events occurs here, such as when Wayan badly needs a home to live, Gilbert collects donations from all of her friends and the donation amount is truly amazing, beyond their believes.

I quote Gilbert's writing about 'being single' or 'divorce' here, this is funny, if Balinese asks you, as a single woman who travels alone, a question such as, "Are you married?", the best answer is "Not yet", don't ever said "No", this answer will make them worry (page 303):
Even if you are eighty year old, or a lesbian, or a strident feminist, or a nun, or an eighty-year-old strident feminist lesbian nun who has never been married and never intends to get married, the politest possible answer is still:"Not yet."

Gilbert's writing is very down to earth, funny, smart and like the cool best friend you always wanted to be like. It's great journey.

Cupcakes for My Best Friend's Birthday

Today is Karin's birthday. She's one of my best friends. We've been friend since we were cute, yes, in our elementary school, back in 1980. We went to the same SD, SMP, different SMA, got together again in university, although different faculty. Then, I worked as a banker, while she became a journalist.

We shared so many precious moments together. The good one, the bad one, we got all. Actually, this circle of best friends consists of three persons, Karin, Tutu ( a very- busy- full-time-mom with two children) and me. We used to hang out together. Enjoying a midnight chat. Sharing our 'jomblo' era together. Then we entered a new very important phase in our life, I got married in 2002, Karin in 2003, and Tutu the last one in 2004.

Next, Karin got a scholarship to study abroad. We kept contacting through e-mail. After a year, she returned home with great enthusiasm and big plans for her future. Unfortunately, God had other plans. Suddenly, she suffered from a serious illness. Thank God, she recovered (bravo!!) and finally got pregnant. Now, she has a cute baby girl, Aisha, the apple in the family.

To date, after 28 years (dear God, is it that long??? Time flies...), we still see each other. Of course, not as often as in the old days. We usually have a date on lunch time and the topics also has been changed. No more talk about broken hearted, new boy friend, and stuffs like that. Similar with other 'emak-emak', we start talking about our childrens, our baby sitters, the expensive diapers and milk, etc.

People said that it's hard to get a true friendship, therefore, I feel really blessed to have this 28-year-old friendship. I always hope that this friendship will be lasting forever. Amien.

*Dedicated to Karin, happy birthday and also for Tutu, thanks for being my best buddies all this time.

**the cupcakes are ordered from here.

***the picture of cupcakes' taken from here.