Persona 3 Portable

After 90 hours spread out over five months, I finally finished Persona 3 Portable yesterday. It’s the fifth Shin Megami Tensei game I’ve completed (along with Nocturne, Digital Devil Saga I and II, and Strange Journey), and also, I think, the strangest.
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On owning an iPad

I learned from experience not to buy the first version of an Apple product (my mistake was the Titanium Powerbook G4, which had several tiny, persistent problems that annoyed me during the life of the machine). But I’ve been an owner of the new version of the iPad for about a week now. It’s interesting because it seems supremely useful, and yet I’m not entirely sure what it’s for. A neighbor of mine who once worked in the computer industry (and who also just got one) said to me yesterday, “We used to call things like this technology in search of an application.”
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Zardoz speaks to you

Last night I forced some friends to watch John Boorman’s film Zardoz, which is a thing I like to do every once in a while. I think this was my fourth time viewing it, but it may be the first time I was able to get past the sheer nuttiness of it to see that there are some things going on in it that are actually pretty subtle. Spoilers follow.
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Writing by hand

One of the highlights of my trip to the University of Virginia last week was a chance to spend some time alone with the autograph manuscript for William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. The paper on which it’s written is unlined; Faulkner’s handwriting is miniscule and precise; he doesn’t dot his i‘s or cross his t‘s, which means that reading each sentence requires some interpolation. The most interesting thing about it for me as a writer was seeing the deletions and emendations—it was a good reminder that even a text as canonized as this was created by a mortal who had constant second thoughts.
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Digression in the Arabian Nights

In the evenings lately I’ve been working my way through the new translation of The Arabian Nights by Malcolm Lyons, published by Penguin. I’m pretty sure that I’ve encountered at least some of the stories in this sequence before (though apparently my memory of the tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves being in the sequence is a false one—that story is included in the volume I’m reading, but it’s made clear that it’s an “orphan story,” outside the cycle of tales traditionally told by Shahrazad). But I’ve never read them presented in sequence, and it turns out that the sequencing is crucially important to their pleasure. One way to express this idea that’s not quite correct is to say that the the sequence of stories in the Arabian Nights is so engaging because Shahrazad is such a willfully bad storyteller; another equally incorrect way is to say that to tell a story as badly as Shahrazad does involves a supreme degree of craft on her part. Both of these are wrong because, of course, Shahrazad is such a spectacular storyteller that her talents almost defy credibility.
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Occasional blogging

My novel The Dream of Perpetual Motion was published in paperback this week by Picador, and this seemed like a good occasion to have the website redesigned (by Alice Zheng, who did a great job of capturing the general look and feel of the paperback’s new cover). Along with the site’s redesign, I also intend to post on a blog here, so keep an eye on this space for posts at random intervals on random subjects.

In the meantime—I’ll be reading at the Harrison Institute at the University of Virginia on Monday, February 7, at 7:00. (Additional information is here.) If you’re in the area that evening, please come by.