Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ern's Monthly Page Turners (May 2011)


To be honest, I didn't read a lot of books for the month of May.  I was too excited about going to Maui for vacation.  Although I packed a couple of books as always thinking I may read them on the plane or at least read a chapter before going to sleep, but you know what, all the times I've brought a book with me on vacation, I don't think I've opened a page.  Picture taking and writing take precedence.  Well, actually having fun takes precedence over everything.  So this month will be unlike most months.  Of all the titles featured, only two are what you would call books.  One is a literary magazine, another is a magazine, and a couple of other items are free papers.  But then again, the title of my monthly reviews is "Page Turners" and not exclusively books.  But no worries, I won't go so far as to review what's written on the back of a cereal box (unless it's really interesting!).  So sit back, read and enjoy.

QUIET ADVENTURE No.1 – Taking a hint from Yataro Matsuura, editor of “Kurashi no Techo” and author of quite few books, including two volumes of book essays, I’ve decided to provide reviews of all the things I read, including free papers and magazines. Matsuura wrote quite a few reviews of Small Press books, such as handmade poetry books that are only a page or two long. This is an extract from “Spectator” magazine from their “Wild Wild East Taiwan issue” giving a summary of what you will find in the regular issue. Short blurbs on Taiwan’s Native culture, surf culture, mountain culture and bicycle culture. Where and when to go and how to enjoy it.


EATING WITH THE PILGRIMS AND OTHER PIECES by Calvin Trillin – And yet another title in Penguin Books “Great Food” series. I can’t believe I haven’t read more of Trillin’s writing. The pieces are hilarious and fun to read. Every article is a masterpiece. From “An Attempt to Write a Short History of the Buffalo Chicken Wing” to “Eating with Pilgrims” where Trillin campaigns to change the national dish for Thanksgiving from turkey to spaghetti carbonara and travels down to the Bayou to eat some real boudin sausage in Cajun country (which I recently wrote about as I reviewed “World Food : New Orleans”. But the blurb on the back of the book says it best: “Eschewing fancy restaurants in favour of street food and neighborhood joints, Trillin’s writing is a hymn of praise to the Buffalo chicken wing, the deep-fried wonton, the New York bagel and the brilliant, inimitable melting-pot that is US cuisine.”

CLASSIC ROCK PRESENTS AOR #2 – The second volume of the highly anticipated AOR issue. The featured band is Toto! We all know their big hits, “Africa” and “Rosanna”, but my favorite is still the first single I heard of their debut album, “Hold the Line”. But that was it for me. What’s great about Classic Rock Presents is the free CD that comes with the magazine. This second issue features new tunes by the likes of Journey, Toto (of course), Little Caesar (wow, haven’t heard from that band in ages, and some other favorites such as TNT and Black ‘N Blue, the revitalized Mr. Big and John Parr:s “Naughty Naughty” plus a few other bands. The title of the freebie CD is “Lovin’ Every Minute of It” and the jacket cover is an exact replica of Loverboy’s “Get Lucky” album. Heck, I’ve seen them in concert too! Articles on FM, Journey, Miss Behavior, Amanda Blue, Vega and more. And do you know who Bridget McLellan is? I wouldn’t know the name, but she’s the babe on the jacket of the first Firehouse album. You know, the band with their hits, “All She Wrote” and “Don’t Treat Me Bad”. Also included is an A – Z of AOR. Ooh, Ten is back with a new album as well. It was also after I read the review of Uriah Heep’s new album “Into the Wild” here that I had to purchase it the following day as I slowly buy back a lot of CDs that I had parted with for one reason or another.

THE PUFFIN CYCLOPEDIA OF CHILDREN’S CLASSICS – Another free give away by Puffin Classics to gain more readers and to provide information on their line of titles. The cover says it best with “Meet the Classics cast and crew: Villains, Beasts, Pirates and more!” “Exclusive articles and interviews by Louise Rennison, Meg Rosoft, Cathy Cassidy, Darren Shan and more!” “Charlie Higson chats Heroes”. Plus quizzes, extracts and much more. Also includes “Author Profiles” of some of your favorite writers – Anna Sewell, Rudyard Kipling, Kenneth Grahame, Mark Twain, E. Nesbit to name a few. Classic trivia and celebrity favorites as well. People such as Tony Blair, Eoin Colfer, J.K. Rowling, and even Steven Spielberg share some of their favorite childhood reads. I may have mentioned this on many occasions but some of my favorites were Roald Dahl, Madeleine L’Engle, and Eleanor Cameron’s “The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet”. I can still remember my second grade teacher reading “James and the Giant Peach” to class which also captured my attention. Of course there is E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web”, “Stuart Little” and “Trumpet of the Swan”, even though some of the titles I mentioned are not Puffin Classics. And hey, it’s never too late to read Puffin Classics or any children’s book for that matter!

FREMAGA VOL.13 – This is another free magazine edited by popular Japanese talent Megumi. This volume has the subtitle of “Akarui Mirai” which translates to “Bright Future” which Megumi chose as the theme for this issue. One month after the March 11 9.0 Magnitude earthquake and tsunami, Megumi went to visit a friend in Ishinomaki, one of the hardest hit cities. What impressed Megumi the most was that the people she met were in high spirits, some even thanking her for coming to visit from Tokyo. She had asked her friends in the entertainment business - creators, artists, designers, photographers, models, actors, actresses, etc. to provide pictures of the laughing or having a good time, all in support of helping the Tohoku area. Hey, even the Assistant Manager of my place of employ is featured!


MONKEY BUSINESS : NEW WRITING FROM JAPAN Volume 01 / 2011 – This is the first English language version of a popular Japanese literary magazine called “Monkey Business” created in 2008 and named after a line in a Chuck Berry tune. The Monkey Business Manifesto states that “Monkey Business is a newly founded journal of new writing from Japan and abroad with a few not-so-new works strategically slipped in.” It’s my belief that literary magazines deserve as much attention as novels as they are usually full of short stories, novellas, poems, and reviews of upcoming titles as well. Published by “A Public Space”, also a literary journal and edited by Ted Goossen, translator of Japanese publications into English and Motoyuki Shibata, known for his Japanese translations of contemporary authors such as Thomas Pynchon, Steve Millhauser and Paul Auster to name a few. This issue has been compiled by pieces from the first year in publication and translated into English. The magazine includes short stories, essays, poems, manga, interviews and more. Goosen and Shibata do not limit their pieces to Japanese writers, they also feature a few foreign writers as well. For a more complete review, check out the “Asia by the Book” blog at

THE CHEF AT WAR by Alexis Soyer – Back to Penguin Books “Great Food” series again, this time with Alexis Soyer, a well-known Frenchman and chef living in Victorian England. This book was about his experiences in the Crimean War where he was so appalled by the food the soldiers were eating, he requested the British government to send him to the front so he could improve the food of the soldiers. A noble cause this may be, but I believe he had an ulterior motive. He needed a place to test his field stove which was gas-fueled and light for easy carrying. The stove was such a success, that armies had used it up until the Second World War. So, not only to we get to learn about the Crimean War, we also get a lesson in history about a much neglected subject, how to feed a thousand soldiers at the front. Quite interesting.

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