Brainstrummings from a Bug-Eyed Bookworm

Tiff is a PhD student in English literature at UC-Berkeley. She takes no prisoners, bars no holds, holds no bars.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Yet More Incompetence

I considered myself quite proficient in Roald Dahl knowledge until I took this quiz on the Guardian Books website

Scored a 6 out of 10.

Having attended a British primary school in Singapore for six years, authors Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton were da bomb. Or should I say, da bombs. Roald Dahl visited my school when I was in kindergarten, but we were informed by the teacher that we couldn't see him because he didn't like children when they were too little. So instead, the teacher read to the class from The Enormous Crocodile. We were consoled by the fact that he would come back in about two or three years time (apparently he made regular visits) and then we would be old enough to have the privilege of viewing him live and in person. We waited out two years in anticipation.

Two years later, the headmaster informed us all at morning assembly that Roald Dahl kicked the bucket yesterday and therefore would not be visiting the school that year. We consoled ourselves by admiring and checking out the several autographed copies of his books in the school library.

But I must say that even though he disappointed me greatly by not liking very small children and then dying too soon, I really loved his work, and reading it today when I get the chance still makes me happy.

My Top Five Favourite Roald Dahl Books (in order of favouritest to less favourite):

1. Matilda (like the self-absorbed prepubescent bookgeek I was, I thought to myself, "I AM Matilda.") Don't watch the movie. Don't do it!

2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You have my permission to watch the movies. Both of them.

3. The BFG. I think there's a good cartoon version out somewhere that I remember watching.

4. Charlotte's Web. Oh wait. Wrong author. I mean:

Boy. The first of his two autobiographies (the second one being Going Solo). About his childhood, featuring such memorable episodes in his early life as putting a dead mouse in a candy store jar and sitting on toilet seats to warm them up for upper classmen.

5. The Witches. Watching the movie version and being really super scared was the height of coolness at one point during my primary school career. Almost as trendy as bringing Super Lemons and Fruit Roll-Ups with you for lunch. Sir Belvedere from Monty Python and the Holy Grail was right in one respect: There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.

"You Speak Like a White Person."

I just had dinner at an Indonesian restaurant which has recently opened in Berkeley about four blocks away from my house. After I ordered, the waiter asked me, "Dari Indonesia, yah?" (Are you from Indonesia?)

Me: Bapakku dari Jakarta. (My father is from Jakarta.)

Waiter: Oh. Bahasa sudah seperti orang buleh. (Oh. You speak like a white person.)

Sigh. Ah well. I guess Indonesian isn't my first language, and although I spoke a little bit of it growing up, I (embarrassingly) learned most of my vocabulary taking courses at Berkeley. Still...can't speak Chinese well, speak Indonesian with an accent, and when I'm tired I start to get my pronouns and singulars and plurals all mixed up in English and sound like a FOB. It's a mild episode of the "cosmo-condition"--you don't really belong to any one country or place. The nice word for it is "cosmopolitan". Journalist Paul Kingsnorth calls the globetrotting middle-class versions "the citizens of nowhere" and labels them (or should I say, "us") as positively villainous, if not downright eeeevil.

I really have to learn to be comfortable with my twinkie-ness.