Booksellers’ Battle! Ye vs. Gresham

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The Billion Shop by Stephanie Ye

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We Rose Up Slowly by Jon Gresham

In our first edition of Booksellers’ Battle, we ask Kenny Leck and Renée Ting from BooksActually for their thoughts on their favourite authors in Singapore.

Stephanie Ye vs. Jon Gresham

(Kenny) The clarity of Stephanie’s writing is the first thing that captures me whenever I read anything from her.

Some would say it’s the quality of her prose, her ideas, her plot lines but it is the subtle but immense clarity of how she create her characters, and how her characters interact with one another, live our their perfunctory lives that is so absorbing for me.

She is like the Greek gods where humans were just clay figurines in the gladiator’s arena, and at the flick of their godly fingers, the hapless human is under their every whim and control.

(Renée) I definitely don’t doubt the quality of Stephanie’s prose, I am a huuuuuge fan of her story in Ceriph #02, titled ‘Bons and Sirius A’.

The stories in We Rose Up Slowly are intimate and real, yet it delicately embodies the lives of the characters in very succinct ways. My favourite, though, was the title story, where the fantastical melds with the everyday. I do wish that more of his stories were like that.

(Kenny) I think what is at stake when I contrast Stephanie’s to Jon’s stories is that her stories is devoid of any make-believe which is an anti-thesis to what a storyteller is. Her stories that she weaves are too close for comfort. But yet, they are so good, or too personal, too Carver-esque that I believe her words in its entirety.

(Renée) I have to say, Stephanie’s craft is incomparable to any Singaporean short story writer. Her language is remarkable, and she has a way of drawing you into her world, living an experience that you otherwise would never have known. Jon’s content is unique, given his own hybrid origins. What I love is that his stories defy the idealistic perceptions of perfection, and how nothing is ever what it seems.

Seeing as both are debut collection of short stories from Stephanie Ye and Jon Gresham, what do you think these two writers can dwell on in common, in terms of room for improvement?

(Kenny) Overall, if these two writers can’t handle both (craft and content) well enough in their storytelling, it will be flat in one sense or another. And it would be most telling when they continue deeper into their writing careers. The great writers are the ones who consistently “affect” their readers – not necessarily always good for one’s well-being – but as readers would keep on turning back to them, just like an addiction.

I won’t exactly say improvement but what do they see their writing journey to be. Their “storytelling” has to more or less, feel similar – for a lack of better word – for their readers but at the same time, they need to break new ground. Murakami achieves that. In fact, most good writers, especially the prolific ones does this thing where they write the things they are most familiar with, and which their readers would identify. But there has to be slight changes through the years so that new ground can be broken as a writer. I think this is essential for all writers to bear in mind, So perhaps, this is the thing that both Stephanie, and Jon could dwell upon.

Math Paper Press is known for publishing various contemporary prose and poetry from young Singaporean writers over the years. Follow them on Facebook.

Spotted! AMIEN

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AMIEN-The_selfish_forest

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As the founder of creative studio AMIEN, LASALLE graduate Damien Soh has worked on all sorts of commercial projects. Aside from that, Damien runs workshops with a focus on the traditional medium.

About the importance of process and the idea of unravelling abstraction, Damien says: “The truth of the matter is, not everyone knows what to create until they actually get into the process of creating. It might sound a little oxymoronic but for me an idea begins like a random set of tarot cards, Scenario like, “A girl, Pale, in a pool of milk” “a goat with a set of ornate horns” Each of these elements seemingly random held no immediate meaning on its own. The process of painting fleshes out both the narrative and emotionality of the piece, often the symbols begin to make sense organically at this point. However for the most part there is just this sense that you are really just translating from a sub-conscious place. At the end of the day, I step back and become a spectator unraveling the meaning at the same time as the others.”

Exhib! Stored Value by L*L

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For Singaplural 2017, L*L duo Matthew and Zhide have created Stored Value, a piece that discusses Singaporean identity in the everyday sounds that we hear, mediated through an experience familiar to Singaporeans – tapping EZ-Link cards on public transport.

(from the press release)

Stored Value is inspired by the humble EZ-link cards that we use every day. We are intrigued by how the EZ-link card not only stores money, but also our trips around Singapore. The exhibit explores the transience of a Singaporean identity. It is a snapshot of everyday sounds of Singapore that we pay little attention to because of how ordinary it is, but yet evoke specific encounters and memories that tie us to shared experiences. Would these sounds, like artefacts and architecture, eventually change and become unfamiliar to future Singaporeans? Stored Value is also a reminder that from our individual journeys and daily lives adds up to something larger than ourselves – a collective memory and collaborative creation of Singapore.

Backstory

Stored Value has gone through several iterations before we arrived at the current version of the concept. The theme for this year’s Singaplural is “Stories – A New Perspective”. Upon reading the prompt, we were interested in creating a surprising, delightful experience for viewers. Since the exhibit is part of the Singapore Design Week, we thought that the work should be familiar to Singaporeans. The initial inspiration for the project came from one of our friends. She posted on Facebook saying that she thought that the EZ-Link card readers at Dhoby Ghaut MRT were playing piano sounds instead of the familiar beeps. We realized that the beeps reinforces a sense of place – that we are travelling within Singapore. We thought it would be quite fascinating if we replaced the familiar sounds of EZ-Link card readers with other sounds. At the same time, we were also thinking of participatory, interactive orchestral experiences where viewers can play combinations of different sounds and help co-create the work. At this point, our ideas seemed to be diverging and we were not sure how we would bring everything together.

We decided to dig deeper. We realized that EZ-Link cards store not only money, it also keeps a log of places that people have travelled to. At the same time, another friend of ours reminded us about sounds unique to Singapore, things like the koel bird, mrt announcements, singlish spoken at kopitiams. We began to weave together a larger narrative, of individuals going about their daily lives that accumulate into the larger hustle-and-bustle of Singapore. Everyone hears these sounds in their daily journeys, but few actually stop to listen and appreciate their relation to our collective Singaporean identity. By bringing these familiar sounds into an exhibition context, we hope to raise the everyday into consciousness. Together, these threads combine at the intersection of individual journeys, collective identity and an inquiry into the co-creation of a nation. Stored Value merges all of these ideas into a cacophony of sounds that are at the same time familiar and unfortunately, too easily neglected and forgotten.

Stored Value will be shown at Singaplural 2017 between 7–12th March, F1 Pit Building.

Banner Shuffle! whitehorsegrey

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“The year 2016 was one of introspection for me as an artist. This drawing was about that.” – May Chua aka whitehorsegrey.

YANCHA FOREVER by Yabai Yabai

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YANCHA FOREVER is a fashion textile collection by Stacy Tan aka YABAI YABAI.

Stacy worked as a graphic designer for four years before moving to Japan to study Fashion Textile Design at the Bunka Fashion College. “One of the reasons why I chose to study more about Textile Design was to have an understanding about materials other than paper and to also make objects and prints by hand. My work has a lot to do with silkscreen, hand weaving and hand dyeing.”

YANCHA FOREVER celebrates rascals of all forms and ages, playing around with materials and techniques. “It is also a cheeky rebellious attack on stereotypical ideas of what textile design work should look and be like, when it can be clumsy, messy and outrageously colourful.”

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