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Now Reading

After a very fine dinner to celebrate a friend's birthday, I capped a day blissfully productivity-free with a trip to the bookstore. On checking out, I realized how spoiled I've become by Amazon's low prices. Buying four books caused quite a sticker shock. Nevertheless, I'll have some spring break reading material to enjoy in between attempts at catching up in Corporations and Professional Responsibility.

First on the list is Fragrant Harbor, which finally won out over many suggestions for the Hong Kong novel to read before I start summer employment there. I chose it mainly because, unlike some other options, it focuses mainly on Hong Kong as opposed to China as a whole, and covers most of the 20th and 21st centuries. It seems to be a sparkling read.

I'm only a few chapters into it, but John Lanchester has a gifted vocabulary and, so far at least, a talent for drawing out entertaining characters. Just reading it is breeding butterflies in my stomach: soon I'll be working in the environment he's writing about. I keep telling myself it won't be any different from any other foreign posting I've managed in the past, but then, I felt nervous before I started those as well.

Besides Fragrant Harbour, I also picked up a book of short stories, A. S. Byatt's The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye. So far I've enjoyed the first of five stories, and look forward to the rest. I think I've stumbled onto an author who I should have been reading for quite a long time.

I'm finding that Byatt, like Chesterton, Endo, or Bruce Sterling, is one of those authors who stirs up old itches to write a novel of my own, an urge that I suspect will last for days after I put her work down. I've been told in 3L year I'll have a bit more free time. Perhaps I'll join Ambimb in his annual National Novel Writing Month challenge. I've had a pretty good story in my head involving work in a law firm: maybe I can spin that out after I've had a little first-hand experience. Not "write about my work" of course--that would be an invasion of my employer, my clients, and just generally unwise--but it's difficult to write about a character until you've somehow walked a mile in his shoes. It just doesn't seem real otherwise.

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