Wednesday, February 20, 2008

of magicians and fairies

the world is indeed a strange place. amidst all the hullabaloo that has been happening around me, very well contributed by local politics and over diligent political clowns, i decided that enough was enough. watching seeming reruns of the same faces, saying the same things over and over again to no resolution on TV and every other media portal for that matter has tired me so and made me long for something else. "i was abducted!", "i was bribed!", "i am innocent!", "she is EVIL!", please, tell us something else we don't know. we are not idiots and morons that you have to constantly repeat yourselves for us to get the point. we perfectly know what's wrong, we have known what's wrong for the LONGEST time! it's no longer a matter of blame, trust me, there is enough to go around, but the question now is, what do we do about it? mass rallies and prayer vigils and walks of support and walks of unity and mass outcries for resignation and demonstrations everywhere are all fine and good. all are great exercises of democracy but again, so what? would that put an end to "the problem"? would getting rid of a stubborn, little zit prove to be the cure for a bad case of ACNE? please.... that picture is just too small. take a few steps back and maybe you'll catch a glimpse of what we are really in for!

politics seem to be everywhere really, and there seems to be no escape from it. even my escape from this circus my country is in fell into its own little circus. i just took consolation on the fact that unlike the inescapable scandals and unpleasantness of my present environment, at least i can always choose to stop reading my book.

it took me a good long week but i was finally able to finish Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, the first novel of british author, Susanna Clark. it was a long tale of the lives of two english magicians and their quest to bring magic back to england back in the 1800's. quite a good read if i may say so, though i think it be a tad too wordy. actually, it was VERY wordy indeed, just about 1000 or more pages long. though definitely no "harry potter", the book did offer some form of insight to what may have been, in my opinion, a more realistic depiction of magicians (the spell wielding, abracadabra kind, not the david copperfield/ david blane wannabes) if they were to really existed in human society. though there were no flying cars and post carrying owls or talking hats, there were however magical fairies and talking statues and ships made of water and Napoleon Bonaparte.... NAPOLEON WHA? o yes, an ingenious method employed by clark, making her novel more so believable was weaving in historical events, both actual and fictional to corroborate with her story. the extensive footnotes and cross references on the pages were quite a very interesting feature.

though there were no particular points in the story that was remarkably captivating, it is to my surprise that clark was still able to keep me engaged for that long. the story's tone was not really monotonous but undulated more along a steady range, never too high, and never too low. if ever events would veer towards a seeming climactic encounter, clark would, almost intentionally, divert the attention to some other detail, immediately diffusing the air of excitement, holding you on for more chapters to come. this tease-chase-tease scheme was her success in making me a fool to read through this utterly thick book, though as i look back, i certainly have no regrets.

the journey through the world of mr. strange and mr. norell was a true delight. a journey through english countrysides, english mannerisms, english dialogue, and also, english magic. indeed, clark's keen attention to the details of the times revealed the extensiveness of her research, giving the world she had created, though filled with enchantment, an unquestionable authenticity. though there were moments when reading felt rather taxing, especially since clark chose a voice that reminded me quite well of my high school days wherein we were forced to read the classics for book reports, i was appreciative that there were several "intermission" stories within the novel itself that cleansed one's reading palate, reinvigorating it again to carry on. it also helps to have a british reading voice in one's head, makes the reading definitely more entertaining! :)

in summation, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell was a welcome distraction. though the book was dark and full of despicable and vile creatures, it offered me of some brief salvation from my reality. a reality though devoid of magic and of utter englishness, is full of despicable and vile creatures as well.

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