Everything counts in small amounts

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Waiting Fiction

Well, my long hard slog through the Ph.D. applications is done. Thank God. I mailed off the last bundle of documents to the University of Hawaii on January 28th. It felt good. But, in truth the hard part ended in early December. All at once, I had to collect letters of recommendations from professors, write a statement of purpose, gather transcripts, and fill out a mountain of forms full of pettily questions. UC Berkeley wanted me to calculate my undergraduate grade point average three different ways; the epitome of useless bureaucratic hoops! It's enough to turn you off to getting a Ph.D.

But, it's over. It's over. I just have to keep reminding myself that.

Now the waiting starts. The bulk of the decisions should arrive between mid-February and late March. Between now and then, I am going to finish up at the English language institute that I've been working at for the last four years. Jiyeoun and I are going to move out of our apartment. The place is provided as part of my current teaching contract. The new place is a small one-room loft that should serve as a 3-4 month layover on our way back to the States. I’m going to look for an equally temporary part-time job as well. I'm concentrating on studying Korean and finishing my thesis until we leave. But, I'll want to earn some walking-around-money as well.

Condensing everything into the short paragraph above makes my schedule look busier than it is. I have a lot of downtime now that I'm only taking Korean classes. So, with the extra time I've been reading the sorts of books I never had time for during the last two years of my Master's degree studies: fiction, fiction and more fiction.

Dark Tower Book VII

I just polished off the last book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I started at the beginning, reread the first four books in the series, and moved on to the last three. It was a month and a half long process. I read somewhere the series amounts to 3,500 pages. I had mixed feelings at the end. King started writing the series in 1976. It was to be his Lord of the Rings. He took 20 years to write the first 4 books, and then completed the last three in two years. The final book is a tome, 775 pages. The difference in time invested in the volumes shows. The first three books in the series are excellent: highly imaginative, polished, and compelling. The last three books are obviously rushed and forced. It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy them. The world King created in the Dark Tower series is magical and the characters are charismatic. But, I just kept thinking how much better the last books would be if King had shelved them for a few years and returned when he was fresh. He says he rushed the release because he felt he would never finish if he wasn’t quick. He’s the writer. I guess he knows best.


I’m moving on to a big pile of books I bought online. Auntie Linda bought Jiyeoun and I a $100 gift certificate at YesAsia.com, an English-language web-based bookstore out of Hong Kong with free shipping to Korea. It was a wedding/Christmas present. (Thanks Linda!) So I went crazy. Searched through the website for hours and just bought anything that struck my fancy. The stack is a mix of titles I’ve wanted to read for a while and books from the bargain bin. I started on Dan Brown’s Angles and Demons last night. I see why there's such a buzz about this book. It reads like a script for a Hollywood movie: headlong rushing plot with high-tech gadgets, exotic locations, and a romantic subplot readers can see coming before the female love interest even takes stage — all covered with a squeaky sheen of pseudo-science and quasi-religion. It's just the type of book I was looking for...