Saturday, 20 December 2014

Life as fiction

My new book Free City is out. Here’s an excerpt from it

Life as fiction

When, one day, Vladimir decided to become a writer, his mother asked him, “What will you write about?”
He smiled and said, “Life.”
There was no point in telling her that he would use his own life, and the lives of those he knew, as inspiration for his stories. She, too, smiled and said nothing else. Using life as fiction was nothing new and the first novella that he wrote, only 112 pages long, was about a poor single mother trying to raise a mentally handicapped son on her own. The novella, titled Broken Wings in its English translation, was based on the life of one of Vladimir’s aunts whose son was mentally handicapped and her lover had left her on her own shortly after the child was born. Instead of complaining about life, or blaming her son Milos for her misfortune, the poor mother raised her son as best as she could. And even though there were times when she cried and complained about her life to Vladimir’s mother, not once did she said that she regretted having her son. The boy had a short life, and so did Vladimir’s aunt, because, one day, the bus they were travelling on crashed against a truck and all of its passengers died. Ironically, the only person that didn’t die in the accident was the drunk driver of the truck, but he killed himself shortly afterwards while in jail.
Vladimir Živković became a one-night sensation with the publication of Broken Wings, and his second book, the racially titled Breasts of all sizes, was based on the women he loved, based on his life.
“Why change the formula?” he thought.
That book, Breasts of all sizes, was another bestseller throughout the world, and for two years after its publication, Vladimir didn’t write another word. He was 27 by then, living in a small bedroom in Paris on his own, and during that time all he did was visit museums and spend time at his girlfriend Yvonne’s place in Versailles. Every Friday morning he would go and see her and every Monday or Tuesday he would return to his bedroom. One day Yvonne said, “Why don’t we just move in together?”
He nodded and said he would think about it, and two days later, on a Thursday, he was back at her place, and when she saw him standing by the front door she thought, “Oh no. He’s coming to put an end to our relationship.”
Instead he proposed to her and she said, “Yes.”
Two weeks later he packed his bags and moved in with her. Straight away he started working on his third book, a love story called Later Days about a writer living in Paris who falls in love. The book was finished in three months. Then he spent another three months revising it and typing it. That book was barely out when he started to work on his fourth novel, titled Scars. That book, the fourth one, was set in the Backa region, in 1942, and it told the story of Vladimir’s grandfather, a Serbian Jew who managed to escape the Nazis but lost most of his family along the way. Scars came out a year and a month later after Later Days, and a few weeks later, tired of being constantly pursued by French photographers, Vladimir Živković and his wife Yvonne Rothschild-Živković moved to Brooklyn. By then she was already one month pregnant and they decided to raise their child in the Jewish-friendly Brooklyn. On the flight to America Vladimir had an idea for a short-story called Snow. The story grew and grew and it became a 600-page novel, again set in Serbia, this time set after the war, around the time that Josip Broz Tito became the first president of Communist Yugoslavia, and also around the time that Vladimir’s father was born. After Snow came Slobodan, his 700-page epic novel. Then came a long silence followed by a few short stories. The writing had taken a lot out of Vladimir, the writing and constant appearances on telly, and after the birth of their third child, Yvonne and Vladimir moved to Jerusalem where he’s now happy working on his little farm. Whenever someone asks Yvonne when Vladimir’s new book is coming out she says, “Soon.”

But the truth is that he isn’t even writing that much anymore. 

My book Free City is out on Amazon

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Girl –unwritten- Online

Going back to the subject of Zoe Sugg, (not the) author of Girl Online; would people have bought her book if she had said in advance that she didn’t wrote it? Should those who bought it and aren’t satisfied with it have a refund for being lied to?
A lot of people are voicing their discontent towards the fact that Zoe didn’t wrote the book even though ghostwriting isn’t something new or illegal, but some people might feel cheated by the fact that Zoe tried to sell the book as her own idea, and now that the truth is out they feel cheated by it all.  

My books Free City and This is Not the End are available on Amazon. No ghost-writers were used in the writing of these books.

Girl Online: Who wrote it?

Zoella a.k.a. Zoe Sugg, is an English fashion and beauty blogger, a star who could only happen thanks to the internet age, and her debut novel Girl Online was released last month, breaking a lot of records along the way, but rumours abound that she didn’t even wrote it.
Readers and critics (and everyone else) have just found out that Siobhan Curham helped the YouTube star Zoe with the writing of her first novel after Penguin and Zoe herself clarified this week that Siobhan did indeed help (wrote) Girl Online. Zoe has now been verbally attacked online for explicitly stating that she did not write the book on her own, but if the story is good does it really matter?
Ghost-writers have been around for ages and Zoella isn’t the first one, and neither will she be the last one to use one.
G-d knows that some of my books could use with a ghost-writer too.

My books Free City and This is Not the End are available on Amazon. No ghost-writers were used in the writing of these books.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

I'm Mitz Nelson, and I'm an Ex-Mormon

In praise of Russell Brand’s revolution

Just because Russell Brand is rich and famous doesn’t mean that he can’t support a good cause and defend poor tenants who are at risk of being evicted. A few days ago, the famous comedian lent his support to protesters outside Number 10 who are worried about rent increases in the east end of London. A Channel 4 news reporter got in the way of the protests and right on the face of Mr. Brand, not to help the poor people but to present the comedian as a hypocrite. Having done his homework well, the reporter went straight for the jugular and asked Mr. Brand about his housing situation. Okay, Russell Brand is a millionaire which allows him to live in a nice flat in Shoreditch, a fashionable district of London. The Channel 4 reporter, Paraic O’Brien, accused Mr. Brand of being part of the problem, but if that’s the case, people like Angelina Jolie, Bob Geldof, Sting and every other famous person who use their status/fame to shine a light on injustice should also be branded a hypocrite. Why doesn’t the government and Channel 4 news do more for the poor people of England?
At least Russell Brand has the guts to step out of his comfort zone and use his fame for a good cause which is probably more than those who criticise him do.

My book This is Not the End is available on Amazon

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Something about Judaism

On Lisa Schiffman’s Generation J a rabbi says, “Most people don’t get anything out of Judaism. You know why? Because they don’t practice it in a disciplined way. But it’s so obviously meant to be practiced that way. There’s daily-prayer, minute-by-minute practices about eating and how you conduct your business and how you conduct yourself sexually.”
Such wise words. I would have loved to meet this rabbi.

-Observing Shabbat, keeping kosher, those are the daily aspects of Judaism.
From Generation J by Lisa Schiffman

You open the fridge and there’s G-d. Yes. He’s there, present in the food we eat. And we have food thanks to the Creator, Blessed be He.

I know some people who go to the shul, sometimes keep kosher on Shabbos, sometimes they don’t, but once Shabbos comes to an end they eat pork or whatever they fancy. Once, during Shabbos, someone approached me at the shul and started small talk. He then told me that he eats bacon all the time, and on that morning he had a full English breakfast: “Sausage, eggs, bacon; the whole lot,” he said, and I wondered why he was sharing that with me.
Was he expecting me to say, “Well done!”
Was he expecting me to agree with him on his non-Jewish eating habits?
I didn’t, of course, and bit by bit I distance myself from him. Eat whatever you want, little man, but don’t expect me to do the same.
Some people are Jews because of their blood lineage, some are Jewish because of their faith, their beliefs, and some call themselves Jewish because they want that “label”, the “J label”, but then they don’t bother to observe the Shabbat or keeping kosher and that isn’t Judaism, is it?
And I also know Jews who hardly ever go to the shul apart from special occasions, but they observe the Shabbat and keep kosher, and by doing that they carry the synagogue (and Judaism) within themselves. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

The rabbi was right; most people don’t get anything out of Judaism because they don’t practice it in a disciplined way. These people don’t know what they’re missing.

My books This is Not the End and Free City are available on Amazon

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Alive and well

Alvin Tan of Alvivi blog, the collective name of local sex bloggers Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee, is alive and well, and enjoying his life in America while waiting for a Green Card. Not so long ago a journalist told him to: “Alvin Tan, face the consequences of your actions like a man.” A silly thing to say but maybe this journalist isn’t as free as he likes to say.
Alvin’s response, made from his Facebook account on September 21st, was simple and straight to the point: “You’re so bitter that I got away… So, so bitter. And jealous too. Sigh. Get a life la, you pathetic “journalist”…”
Later on Alvin had a bit more to say on Facebook.

Alvin Tan:
I never felt scared, because I'm not a fugitive at all (try "recognized asylum seeker"). All that talk of Interpol is just typical UMNO/PDRM wayang. In any case, the US government isn't just going to cooperate with PDRM to hand over a recognized political refugee (even the Department of State's 2013 Human Rights Report on Malaysia cites my case for fuck's sake). That's not how extradition works. I've already filed for asylum, and I've passed many preliminary filterings (interviews, documentation, court hearings) that pretty much guarantee that I won't be deported/extradited.

And about trying to command attention among Malaysians, LOL... Come on, get real. Malaysia is a small and poor market, what does it matter even if I commanded everyone's attention in Malaysia, which I did? Has any big stars ever came out of Malaysia, builton the strength of the pathetic 30-million-strong Malaysian market with super-low disposable income? There's no critical or financial success to be gained from "making it big" in Malaysia (what an oxymoron).

Malaysia is nothing, and anyone who wants to make it big needs to get out. Malaysia is a toxic wasteland with tons of people with negative attitude; you can't do anything creative or different, because people are too uneducated and the government too tyrannical. 

So the reason that I'm quiet is not because I'm scared. It's because I'm too busy building and enjoying my life here in one of the most modern, exciting, culturally-and-economically-significant cities in the world.

Why should I stay back to face trial, when it's obvious I won't get a fair trial? So that I can sacrifice one year of my precious 20s sitting in jail like Adam Adli? He wants to be a politician -- that's his problem. I have better things to aspire to. Now, I'm on track to get a Green Card in a year, and then US citizenship in five years. Admit it, I came out on top from the Ramadhan Bah Kut Teh saga, and you people are really bitter, angry, dissatisfied, and jealous about it.

I've burnt all my bridges with Malaysia and will not bother to comment further on anything even remotely related to Malaysia; I've sold all my stakes and therefore lost all legitimacy to speak credibly on it, so to speak. I won't return forever too, so enjoy your "beautiful" country, you bumpkins. I'm simply taking UMNO ministers' advice of "you tak suka, you keluar," and I love it. Maybe you bitter souls should try migrating too.

Only time will tell if Alvin will indeed stay in America, but I think he will and I can see him going on to make a career for himself as an artist. He’s the kind of man who took risks and went ahead with his life, unlike so many others who talk a lot but do nothing with their own lives (and I know so many people like this at my workplace). They too get bitter when others move forward and do something with their lives.