Why read bestsellers

The Story's Story

Someone wrote to ask why I bother writing about John Grisham’s weaknesses as a writer and implied in it is a second question: why read bestsellers at all? The first is a fair question and so is the implication in it: Grisham’s readers don’t read me and don’t care what I think; they don’t care that he’s a bad writer; and people who read me probably aren’t going to read him. Still, I read him because I was curious and I wrote about him to report what I found.

The answer to the second one is easy: Some are great! Not all, probably not even most, but enough to try. Lonesome Dove, the best novel I’ve read recently, was a bestseller. Its sequel, Streets of Laredo, is not quite as good but I’m glad to have read it. Elmore Leonard was often a bestseller and he is excellent…

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Medium Mono

Phil Kneen Photography

I don’t shoot a lot of black and white film these days; I used to when I started out in photography, but that’s because it was cheaper. I believe to get the full effect of mono, you have to be willing to go the whole hog and develop and print your own work, and I simply don’t have the patience. I do, however, see the work of other photographers and it lures me back into shooting a few rolls of black and white – these images are from my latest rediscovering. All images were made using a Pentax 6×7, 105mm 2.4 lens and either Ilford HP5 or Delta 3200 (which I shot at 1600 and had developed normally)

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The Best Sequel of A Movie Ever – T2

The one thing I start here is a complaint, or question, or a portmanteau quesplaint:

How can I register a UK iTunes account if I live in Hong Kong, so that, I can save my time (bloody three months!) waiting for the movie to be released for rent.

Trainspotting 2

To be honest, this review is quite partial and biased, and you know why. And I have to admit, this movie is specifically tuned, and 10x supercharged, to fans of Trainspotting the movie and/or the novel. From the pub they had used to meet (and met again in the movie), to the council flat they had used to jab their heroin (where Spud jabbed himself for suicide, and later stuck the pictures and notes of their primes, their junk, their togetherness, etc.), to Renton’s claustrophobic room in Edinburgh pasted with trains repetitive wall paper from corner to corner, to the public toilet, to the music, to the grass where Mark Renton used to give his classic oratory about Scotland, to the package of the movie for promotion, in short in every single sense, Danny Boyle is telling you only one theme about the story, Nostalgia, good’o days/bad’o days. Danny Boyle and his whole team are shamelessly and blatantly asserting that they are consuming our (fans’) nostalgic feeling of the first installment of this movie in 1993, when started the rocket stardom of literally all of them.  Danny Boyle went so far to deliberately make a plot to rewind the scene where Renton did his cunning youth smile in front of the windshield, which is, to me, very honest, the worst, the most out-of-context, the most on99 and the oddest part of the whole movie.

However, Danny Boyle grasped every opportunity in the plot, in the lighting, in the sound, in the cut, the shooting, to give you a sense of irony, which is equally shared by both the characters in the story and the whole production team creating the movie (director and actors included), that they have changed a lot already. First of all, the movie is no cult movie anymore. The actors and directors are no nobody anymore. They cannot treat everything in the set as though the same as they used to be. Age, fate, marriage, family, health, weary, success or failure (mostly failure), loneliness, helplessness (Renton’s another classic quote “I can live another 30 years. But what the fuck do I live for these 30 years?"), international football, Kelly MacDonald, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, the social media, the parties, the crimes, the gangster system, the immigration system (I couldn’t help myself LOL when Renton asked the Edinburgh Ambassador where she was from, and she answered Slovenia in Eastern European Accent), the social care system (Danny used the last rolling to tell you the end of social housing even in Edinburgh!).  Cinematic photography has changed a lot since 1993. Danny Boyle kept the par on that change in the movie. His shooting of Edinburgh was heartrendingly delicate, especially the night time.  That parallel narratives of the movie about that irony faced by them both in front of and and behind the scene is the best part, telling me the sharpness and dark humour of Danny Boyle is still here, if not even sharper.

The movie tried to make use of many nuances and minutiae to tell the characters that everything has moved on without them. However, all those minutiae and nuances point us back to the Bulgarian hooker, Veronica. It is one of the weaker part of the movie. But I don’t mind. Veronica is so enjoyable throughout the movie. If we really need a muse, she is the muse. And, sometimes, few is better than many, and one is better than few.  The characters also knew that everything has moved on без themselves. But they couldn’t help but kept self-tormenting, self-haunting by what happened 20 years ago. The baby, Tommy, the 20,000 pounds, the betrayal, George Best, Protestant/Catholic Scotland, the heroin, the wild time of youth. I know it’s not a very innovative theme. Neither was the them innovatively presented. But at certain age, like mine, such theme just keeps resonating within my soul, captivating and reverberating, until the echo from within dissipates after a week, 2 weeks or a month. And when there is another one presenting exactly the same tune, the resonation rewinds all over again. So I told you I am biased. This movie reminds me of a drama made in HK a couple of years ago, When Heaven Burns. Same theme (Nostalgia), same time-frame (20 years), same number of characters (5), same sense of helplessness in front of those feelings (remorse, betrayal, rage, guilty pleasure and enthusiasm of what we used to do), except the carnage (it’s totally unimportant as I haven’t been shown even one scene of cannibalism). But T2 is comparatively better. It is because, in the mud of all those shit, we should also find something funny. And T2 is after all very funny.

After T2, I not only can remember every single character, I also find myself a bit down that I have to say goodbye to all of them, as I’m quite sure they cannot make T3 anyhow. I believe that.

75 out of 100


It will be one of the numbers I will keep in my mind, my vein, until I die.

Just like 623 2016, 118 2016.

For a long time, I have tried very hard, very hard, not to talk about politics. I have been so afraid of myself being full of myself, fool of myself, talking politics, since 623, 714, 118. I know I used to be like that before those numbers, those dates.  Being egotistic, I know I used to sound like, smell like, a left-leaning hypocrite. I know I used to sound like, smell like, I know a lot of things about politics, about society, about economy, about class, about votes. There used to be a twitter mate who I guess studied sociology and philosophy. He told me, at the crest of my pomposity about left-leaning ideologue about 2 years ago, that he didn’t see left leaning ideas would come back to hit any time soon. Traditional industries are not here anymore. Traditional sectors that can create a large horde of workers to work together, get a drink together, form a club together, form a bondage to each other, together, are long gone. At the time, I just heard something, but couldn’t listen to anything. Just can’t, have anything that could be put into my brain, except what I thought was true. That used to be me, until the numbers, 623, 714, 118.

So, I felt I was completely defeated by those numbers. When I felt defeated, I reflected, oftener than not the words from the keyboard of that socio-philosophist. Since then have I always remind myself, don’t talk about it. Don’t ever talk about it. Avoid it. Foil it.  Not because I finally got a sense of remorse, but I just don’t want to be my laughing stock. So I stop.

Until a couple of weeks ago, that snap poll called by Theresa May, that woman who now still clings on in her parliament, who always takes for granted that Westminster is nothing but HER OWN parliament.  Out of something I still can’t explain fully, I called that bet again, that I will have a table for 12 for anyone who comes, if SHE can take a majority larger than 3. That means, I just know, 328 out of 650. I just don’t know. I still don’t know, how I figured that bet. Like Labour, I was not very good at counting and maths. It might be just a gambler’s intuition, always bet on riskier side, always bet on weak, because if I lose, just a bet, while if I win, I win big.

It seems I did win. But that I won doesn’t explain anything about myself.  So I am not going to give you explanation about how Labour won big. And literally they didn’t. They have just got back to where they used to be in 2010 under Gordon Brown, a hung, a stalemate, a tell-tale that there are still about a million people who feel alienated by Labour. And, to be most humble, I still don’t know what has been through. I just want to share my feeling, a tinkle of being a little smart ass when the result is all clear.

  1. I actually think that Labour was smart not ever taking strong view about Brexit. Some people used to blame Labour on their anaemic, or retreating, stance about Anti-Brexit, about Article 50, about Second Referendum against Brexit. From what I have heard from British saying, in TV show interview, in Radio Show, I have a sense many of them don’t feel pain about what they decided on 623. They are conscious they will have a hard time leaving EU. But they haven’t winced or wailed. That’s just not what they are. They just want to get it on. If my sense was right, that Labour sounded retreating about Brexit/ Anti-Brexit might be viewed by people as honouring a majority of people who made that decision, while they won’t be so high and hard sounding about severing any tie to EU at all cost, thus alienating the young voters. After all, Brexit as an issue to Labour is just “Not My Problem". Brexit is in all sense a Frankenstein invented by Tories and Tories themselves.
  2. “For the many, Not the few" was the campaign motto/ tagline of Labour in this election.  It sounded quite silly to me when I first heard of it. But the message turned out ringing so ear-poppingly clamorous to voters, esp. those who have suffered the most in the last 5 years of austerity, the disabled, the people working in National Health Service, the singled parents, the people who have had their benefits and allowances cut to bare minimum. To them, the message pierced right through their mind to create pictures, movies of what they’ve been through, and their future, to the brink of something like clairvoyance. The message was proven today so powerful, like cannon that was shot right through the heart of where Labour voters used to be, Wales, Glasgow, Northwest, Northeast, Islington, Haringey, Bromley, Liverpool Tooting, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull. I have to confess even I underestimated him, and this message of his. I have never, even a minute, thought that it could be so powerful, so majestic.

This passage from New Yorker I read today is the one I like most among all the opinions I read: http://www.newyorker.com/news/benjamin-wallace-wells/how-jeremy-corbyn-moved-past-the-politics-of-2016?intcid=mod-latest?reload

“Rise, like lions after slumber / In unvanquishable number! / Shake your chains to earth like dew / Which in sleep had fallen on you: / ye are many—they are few!”

“For the many, not the few.” “protect this, defend that, support this person.” “Tonight is different….We’re not defending. We’re not defending. We don’t need to. We are asserting. Asserting our view that a society that cares for all is better than a society that only cares for the few.”

2008 I cried like mad in MTR reading the victory speech of Barack Obama. The above speech is comparatively short. And I didn’t cry because of it. But it doesn’t mean it is anything less than Obama’s. At least it is what I think, at the moment. Comparatively, Corbyn’s is ridden of that academic snob of Obama’s, while adding a tint of Street smart. And, most of all, Corbyn’s is even more genuine. He has been standing in Islington, defending for whatever he thinks is worth a stand, a sit-in, for 30 years. Once again, his message pierced right through his supporters’ mind to create pictures, movies of what they’ve been through, what Corbyn’s been through, and their future, their common future, their calm and spirit even their future would be so uncertain (and it’s true), their not giving a shit of their lose come what may (as they’ve been losing for 30 years) to the brink of something like clairvoyance.  How powerful, how majestic.

Irony is. He still hasn’t won.

So. I keep on what I have been doing, avoid it, eschew it. foil it. As I really don’t know much about politics, about society, about economy. And, above all, I did’t win.

Fight on, mate.

Year on Year

64 64 all gone and gone along the pathway from

Hayday, which ‘as been what, when?

1997? 1992? 1989? 1978? 1967? 1956?

What are they numbers? Fading in memory but not in tapes,

Teasing in some lips but honoured in scripts

Archived in history, the absurdities the atrocities the hysterical delusion that define me, and so many others who, year on year, year on year, fainting but still saintly shinin’ lights passing, year on year, year on year, together and union, become part of me, and part of my history, our history, mine history, ours history, interweaving into one and wholely, the light vs the dark, the repression vs the democracy.

So many used to stand up in the legislative hall, in Victoria, against authority, initaiting motion that that authoritarian barbarity, to admit what they did, as guilty, as history and witnesses have imputed with crystalline clarity, the atrocity. Year on year, being refused, scorned, mocked and teased, by all sides, even some of our side, but still stood up, year on year.

Because, it is the only one thing that defines our identity. Just one thing. Not money. But fear. We fled, we sit in, we protested, we shed tears, because of this

Fear. And anger. The hair straightener fear. And heart piercing anger that melts down into tears. Out of conscience. In front of such a massive criminal, who can crush anybody just for clinging on with power, money, jail, brutality, and anything that have defined what they always be.

So they were standing, year on year, until the last breath of the air. And we are, the heir.

So we still stand, even in such an circumstance, that some say there is no more stage for it to stand, to be so disheartening so futile to stand. But we stand.  Coz’ we are the only heir.

This is the responsibility of being an heir. To stand in front of such a massive and filthy thing.  To stand for showing, such grief such anger such fear such thing that solely defines us. Solely decide us.

So we stand. Always we stand. Repetitively we stand. In that place we stand.

Year on Year.

故事 – 重建 Epilogue


This is my achievement。寫得再差,再虎頭蛇尾都好,對我而言,This is my achievement。


2015年9月1日。跟著我就寫了一篇文,我決定於棄這個故事。簡單講,這原本是一個爛尾故。因為我不知道如何繼續下去。重建源於我的一個夢,而那個夢並不是第一章的畫面,卻是最後一章的畫面。那即是說,我這個project源於一個心中的渴望- 追夢。第一章後,可能自知墨水唔夠,太多靈感太多夢,無奈文筆冇幾棟。所以中途放棄了。

但自從上一個故事 – 一隊POP BAND製成期間,我聽過一個Guardian Podcast。有一個作家,唔記得名,講左個作家寫作的比喻,我很深印象- it’s like playing jenga. Every time I picked up a block at the base and tried to put it on top, I was terrified by the possibility of the whole being toppled. 正在當時,我跟一家人去了歷史博物館,那時放了一幅大JENGA給大家玩。我見一隊情侶在樂此不疲。心中就明白了。很多在推特的朋友,尤其是女的,都有習慣寫自己的夢,寫自己的恐懼,有的寫覺得寫作會令自己鑽入自己痛苦的最深處。但這個PODCAST,這副JENGA,正正令我明白另一個PERSPECTIVE- 其實挑戰自己於沒有橋的邊緣,寫作是一件很刺激好玩的事。結果另計。這PROJECT本源於追夢,夢本是沒有邏輯可言,本是支離破碎,那我為什麼要追求一個完整的行文呢?碎住去咯。。。


我年紀有番咁上下,自知時光有限,很多跟我同輩就如重建入面的主角一樣,追夢去尋找過去。去出席alumni 聚會。I think it’s stupid。追夢,當然是向前。尤其是現實提醒我們,追夢,結果可以很危險。本年5月,曼徹斯特,令我印象深刻的那列警車,那個10:30的深夜,沿於一班發夢想同Ariana Grande短聚的小朋友。1989年的6月4日,北京派軍方和本是用來對付鄰國襲擊的軍備,去洗平天安門,本源於一班北京大學生集體追夢。這個故事,我送給他們,和對這些事有感受的人,代表我明白,追夢不一定不需代價,不會take it for granted,我們會努力,望here and there,令世界更適合追夢,更接近人基本的權利,









「人的腦,一直被科學斷定是生命的主宰。他停頓的一天,就會停止處理資訊,停止指揮心臟及其他主要的器官,那人就斷定為死亡。在過去的科學,我們斷定腦袋及裡面的神經細胞,是讀取和發放資訊和指令的電腦。所以腦死﹒人亡。但我們現在的實驗証明,腦,某程度上,是不會停頓,不會死亡的。腦神經細胞有一種物質,我們現在的代號是Histone-91,是不能分解的。而這種物質即使不再被人體的其他物質黏合,分散,如其他的塵埃一樣飄浮,他們仍然可以互相傳遞資料,及和外界的刺激產生作用,並能把這些刺激以變形來記低。那就是說﹕人可以說是會死,亦可以說是不會死。記憶,知識,透過人的身軀接觸到的刺激,是以Histone-91留存下來。你可以叫心靈感應,你可以叫永恒,你可以叫前世今生,你可以叫通靈,whatever you coin it…」這就是有一次"像"當機時劇痛的知覺的回憶。是阿文在那次召集眾人時講過的其中一樣理論。他像用一生的精力去製造永恒的世界。













就在這時萬成再沒多講半句就衝前把阿文推倒,季友和萬成不斷向倒在地的阿文揮拳。在這刻當機又再次來臨。腦內奏起Bob Marley 的 High Tide Or Low Tide

In high seas or in low seas
I’m gonna be your friend
I’m gonna be your friend
In high seas or in low seas
I’ll be by your side
I’ll be by your side
I heard her praying, praying, praying
I said, I heard my mother
She was praying (praying, praying, praying) yeah, and I
And the words that she said (the words that she said)
They still-a lingers in my head (lingers in my head)
She said “a child is born in this world
He needs protection." Wo-oh
God guide and protect us
When we’re wrong, please correct us (when we’re wrong, correct us)
And stand by me
在這裡很多人都開始恐慌而出現很多超乎大家想像的事,潛意識很討厭的人,現在可以不問情由的去歐打對方。知道永遠得不到的女人,現在可以不問情由的去強姦,包括阿馨。我看著不斷被柔淪的阿馨,感覺到被不斷歐打,頭被不知那一個的鞋踏著,才知道我是有多討厭的。一切應該令人崩潰的事在眼前發生,我都不覺得一回事,再沒有感覺。畢竟這是一個夢,人總不能連發夢都默守著現實的刻板的。我像爆烈的腦已好再沒那麼痛了。因為,畢竟這不是真實的。這是當機吧。還是機器如常運作,只以一點現實的劇痛當是折磨?還是,這才是真實,而間或一些當機式的虛幻?我已經搞不清楚了。大概,這就是永恒吧。只知道,腦內充滿著BOB MARLEY的音樂:
All my good life I’ve been a lonely man,
Teachin’ my people who don’t understand;
And even though I tried my best,
I still can’t find no happiness.
So I got to say:
Stop that train: I’m leavin’ – oh, baby now!
Stop that train: I’m leavin’ – don’t care what you say!
Stop that train: I’m leavin’. And I said:
It won’t be too long whether I’m right or wrong;
Said, it won’t be too long whether I’m right or wrong.


現在再回想那個夢,我仍在問自己,為什麼當時會想到用界手留痕這種方法去提醒自己那裡不是真實。畢竟當你在那裡的記憶會在短時間被清洗到一個不留任何線索的地步,即使給你看到《文不是真的》這五個字,你都不會聯想到什麼,衝擊到什麼,佔領到什麼,挽回到什麼。可能…那一刻我有一個完全沒有邏輯根據的信念:It won’t be the last time。可能就是相信,那突然重回知覺的一剎,大概等如電腦時不時因軟體程式在多功下衝擊而產生的停頓,一定會重來,一定會隨任何機件的運作年日而愈來愈頻密。只要在每一次這機的當機出現時再加幾筆在那裡的皮膚,我和阿馨總有一天能告訴那兒的人,重回知覺,重回現實。
















「Transience⋯⋯ Transience⋯⋯AMPHAC⋯⋯Amygdala⋯⋯MPFC⋯⋯⋯⋯ACC – 產生對像的刺激而產生的所有壓力和回應,以產生交流。即是Virtual Reality⋯⋯再沒有latency。而人類對像的所有感應,達Yoctosecond⋯⋯在這個世界,這個Heaven內,甚至於你跟你身體任何一部分的互動,在"像"裡都真實的呈現。呼吸、紳展、抽煙引致的咳嗽、性交的高潮、月經的痛楚、缺水使喉嚨的乾渴、寒冷使皮膚的吉搭⋯⋯一齊一齊,都會在"像"產生。因為⋯⋯All starts with brain。腦才是一切感官、感受的主宰。」





強烈的痛楚中,我和阿馨在血染中彼此交纏,虛脫的軀幹,昏睡。劇痛的臂彎仍堅持盛著對方的臉額、吻、和秀髮。醒來後,我只剩餘劇痛、十六歲的身軀和記憶、血跡斑爛的床。我嘗試看一看劇痛的左手手臂,看見不明所云的界刀痕,寫著X rEAL。


自行清潔自己的房間。不怕被老豆知我界手。但總不能搞到這裡像案發現場一樣吧。梳洗、沖涼,穿著校服。臨離開房,走到房間那面全身鏡再看一次手臂內側的那刀痕的反映。X REAL。NOT REAL?但也可以是X veal。畢竟那個是r還是v很難說清。 不要想吧。還是上學吧。








我心裡突然產生兩個圖案。文及X REAL。突然領略到一些東西。不多。但文 X REAL。這明顯能造成一個有意思的句子。文 不是 真。 文不是真的。還是沒有甚麼頭緒。但這至少是一個提醒,一個打示。文是一切的原因,一切的答案。文是隱瞞一些事的。正如我和阿馨也隱瞞一些事一樣。








「那我不如給你看一本相簿。」原來他還有相簿的。他緩慢地打開床另一邊遠角的白色入場櫃的櫃門。是一個衣櫃。他叢衫群的底下潛出一本大概6吋成4吋的白色的相簿。我只能得到一個大概,畢竟這組數字沒有人認真去認証過。陳浩打開那本白色的相簿,我才知道他是一個業餘音樂人。這相簿跟他在三興村時拍的照片不同,是成長後的陳浩的風采。照片有他到過的音樂會留映、有他跟某些外國樂隊的後台合照、有他參與演出的片刻。參與演出的陳浩照片不多,就在台上紛擾的隊友及樂器後面,一個黑色的Drumset上,就是長了頭髮的陳浩。那個黑色的低音鼓上寫著很psychedelic 的字,應該是隊名 – Horospace 。我相信那個凸出的櫃後面就是那個印著Horospace的Drumset。


「奇怪吧。沒有這個字的。是我很Bandmates 亂拼亂湊出來的。」陳浩掃著頭道。














「你個樣⋯⋯」阿馨抽搐著的面容向我說。我腦內突然響起強烈的鼓聲。是Horospace的第一隻歌Timeless Spacecraft的前奏。隨著那個前奏,斷斷續續的記憶和知覺開始回來,即使阿馨的樣貌仍然是那個發黃照片的過去時代,即使這間房沒有變形而變成我們理應身處的實驗室而不知已經多久。我甚至開始聞到隱隱約約的屍臭味,但這是我真的回復知覺,還是因恐懼而生的過份聯想,我不清楚。所有的回憶隨Timeless Spacecraft回來,包括阿文離開三興村前跟季友打過的那一場交、季友萬成後來因為政見分歧而產生的嫌隙和回到陌路。陌路,就是大家離開三興村後的成長印記。我和自己講過一次又一次的人生要move on。一次又一次提醒自己的不要再話當年,不要再出席任何的話當年活動。人生一次又一次的起伏和平淡,經歷生死。Timeless Spacecraft突然停下,我回憶回到那一個跟季友碼頭相聚的晚上。季友差不多四十歲時移民跟自己的親戚,說只想亦只能跟我道別的那一個晚上。他真的拿來他的Bagpipe,說要好認真好沉重的道別,因為可能真的不能再見。他吹奏的auld lang syne。