Monday, June 04, 2007

My Books in Singapore's National Library

A friend forwarded a link to the shelf number of Payday Loans in the Reference Section of the National Library. A search for my name on the library's online catalogue brought up another book I've forgotten writing. This is Distinction: A Profile of Pioneers, co-written with Lo Mun Hou, when we were both serving our national service. Distinction is a book commemorating the 2nd Singapore Infantry Brigade's 25th anniversary.

I remember the great fun--and frustration--Mun Hou and I had, writing this book. Both text and pictures had to celebrate the Brigade but we managed to inject some postmodernist puns and ambiguities into the text, detectable only by the observant reader. The book title, for instance, not only has the meaning of "excellence," but also that of "difference." The last I heard of Mun Hou was that he was pursuing his PhD in Comparative Lit somewhere in the USA.

Ben, the graphic designer, was full of whacky ideas (including changing the book format to a set of glossy postcards, enveloped in corrugated cardboard held together by steel screws), and it was up to me, the lieutenant on the project, to rein him in. I can't remember the photographer's name. His training was in fashion photography, and I was fascinated by his sessions with the top brass of the brigade, the way he got his shots while respecting the military hierarchy. He was only a first-class private then.

Those months were the most glamorous months of my national service. The rest of the time was grim, grim, grim.


MHLo said...

Ah, the pleasures of narcissistic self-googling. For it is I!! Your former co-author!!!

Aside from, um, finding myself, it's nice to find you too. I had heard vague things about what you were up to, and am glad to have it confirmed that you are living and working in NYC. I finished the PhD (in lit, not comp lit -- that would have taken centuries) a good six years ago and have been back teaching in Spore.

I should dig up Distinction, which was indeed great fun to work on. The joke I remember most fondly was in the caption underneath two photos of Tekong Camp we posted (one old, one modern). We opted to title them "Paved With Good Intentions," and to this day I hope that at least one reader filled in the first half of that sentence.

But we really should have called the whole book Grim Grim Grim, Or perhaps Band Of Brothers Grim.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Hi Mun Hou,
what unexpected dividends narcissism pays, for me, at least. Good to hear from you. Congrats on the PhD, and the teaching gig. I'd love to hear more about it. I hope you have found another band of brothers, and sisters, and their names are Dopey,...