Sunday, July 31, 2011

Birthday (Part 1)

For the past four weeks, we have been fed with story after story of death. These are the stories we have covered thus far:
We learnt that death comes to us in the following fashion:
  • when we least expect it
  • when we bring out insecurities in others
  • when we through no fault of ours (perhaps our eyes?) cause grievances to others
  • when we don't take into account the feelings of others
All pretty gruesome matters to be brought to the dinner table. Well, we can bid adieu to death as we move on to the next short story written by the late Lee Kok Liang. Kee Thuan Chye in this website has this to say about him:

Give me instead the guileless literary fiction of Lee Kok Liang anytime. Lee never wrote to delight and sell. He wrote to express his sense of what life is about and his observations of fellow humans.

His stories remain gems, told with a genuine voice. For me, Lee Kok Liang still remains the best writer of fiction Penang has ever produced. No one has yet come close.

The late Lee Kok Liang

In order for you to agree or disagree with Kee Thuan Chye's views, you need to read his short story Birthday. In addition to that, here are some questions for you to reflect as you read the story:
  1. Does the protagonist have a name? Why?
  2. Whose birthday is it?
  3. Do you need to have some knowledge of Chinese culture to fully appreciate this story? Why?

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