For my inaugural post on this here blog, I’m going to recommend a book that has earned a special place in my heart for certain reasons.
At the start of 2014, I was not in a good place. I had not taken care of myself and as a result, it was decided that redoing my final year at uni would be the best course of action. I was soon diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety, which made sense as to why it felt like my entire life came to a screeching halt and all the colours had washed out.
All the things that used to be enjoyable for me, became things that I could no longer bring myself to do, and even if I did, it was a chore and no longer brought me any joy.
This included reading. I’ve always been a reader, and even if I’m not balancing several books at once, I am still reading SOMETHING.
Because you see, the thing with depression isn’t that you’re always sad, it’s often that you just do not have enough energy to do things. The things you have to do, the things you want to do, need to do. So not being able to resort to an activity that was guaranteed to make me feel better, was a massive sucker punch to say the least.
Eventually I got a good work placement and even though things were looking up, I was still unable to pick up a book. All I could do was look sadly at my shelves from across the room whispering, I’m such trash I’m so sorry my loves…
I feel REALLY bad when I look at books that I’ve had for so long and have not yet read
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One night before while I was preparing for the next day, I remembered that I had brought back some small books that I bought from Books Actually, an independent publisher and book store in Singapore. I packed one of these into my bag to try and read on the train journey.
The next day rolls around and I manage to get myself out of bed and dressed in time to catch the train. I soon remember the book I packed and decide to give it a try. By the first couple of pages I started to realise that reading this little thing was actually enjoyable??
By the time I got to work, I’d already gotten halfway through the book. Which, for someone who had only just started to come to terms with their mental illness, and who had barely enough energy to appear like a Well Adjusted Human, was not bad at all.
I felt so good about myself. That I had been able to do that something extra despite having no spoons to spare. Even if it meant not being social for the evening, or that dinner would be beans on toast instead of a substantial cooked meal or a burrito from the place across the road.
The Ayam Curtain by June Yang & Joyce Chng
I then finished the book on the ride home. Even though it took me a while to start reading with the same voracity that I had before, after The Ayam Curtain, I was able to read the right amount that I needed to make me feel less like an “ugly giant bag of mostly water“.
Kong jiao wei, Hokkien, means “speaking bird language.” It is a cock-and-bull story,
a flight of fancy and, incidentally, the perfect phrase to describe this collection of
microfiction with a quintessentially Singaporean flavour. The reader steps into a
technological dystopia one moment and wakes up a crow in the next story, all within
the space of a hundred words.
Expect a spirit war in underground tunnels, genetically-modified babies and a Singapore
overrun by anti-government spies in these short stories. Be entertained by a motley gang
of characters both strange and the deranged, uber-rational and supernatural, feathered or
plucked in Ayam Curtain. [src: mathpaperpress]
I absolutely ADORE the concept of centering a speculative fiction anthology on the idea of a bird flying in and out, allowing the reader to swiftly visit several realities of one place. It’s so Singaporean as well as it reminded me mostly of the strange phenomena of the birds on Orchard Road.
How every evening, around 6pm, they get up and start flying around squawking like mad. That is definetly a moment that I can see as being supernatural or paranormal and that all the birds are simply popping in and out of dimensional pockets, returning to whenever or wherever home is.
Under 160 pages, this books is REALLY worth it. Great for the kind of person who either doesn’t have a lot of time to sit down and read, is in a reading slump, enjoys scifi and fantasy but craves diversity or a Singaporean who is missing home.
THE AYAM CURTAIN : 5 Books!
💰Buy it from:
💸 Math Paper Press / Books Actually (Bookstore + Their Publishing house)