Comparing This and That. Chapter One.

  What’s the difference between a jellyfish and a building society? Sounds like a joke, but I’m dead serious. There are dozens of differences, but they can all be summarised into one: a jellyfish is a jellyfish and a building society is a building society.

There. That wasn’t hard, was it.   But, more often than not, when we compare different things we can’t help finding similarities or at least points in common. This is what this BRAND NEW CATEGORY is all about. Finding differences, finding similarities and grading three things along the same continuum.  

 Tonight’s three things are books: I, Claudius, by Robert Graves, Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami and The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.  OK, let’s find one similarity. They’re all books.  And another: They’re all written by men. 

But let’s ask a few questions and see how each book stands up.  First question: Which one is the least likely to be made into a musical?   Personally, I’d have to go for Kafka on the Shore. It wouldn’t be far fetched to have ancient Romans doing each other in on stage, and you could just about convert some of the sage military advice in The Art of War into bouncy dance numbers, but I don’t see how you could musicalise Kafka on the Shore without losing the mysterious freaky charm of the book; you could make a decent film of it, but the soundtrack would have to be something like I’ve, Japanese techno trance with that whimsical girlish sound that is both creepy and cuddly at the same time. Trouble is, their music has already been used for umpteen anime productions. Something similar, in any case. Andrew Lloyd Webber wouldn’t have a look in.   (By the way, check this out if need be: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I’ve_Sound )  

Second question: Which book would come in handiest for first-time parents?   If you don’t mind your little son turning into a schizophrenic psychopath, or your baby girl turning into an  incestuous nymphomaniac, again the choice has to be Kafka on the Shore. For all this book’s characters’ dubious quirks, it has to be said that they’re all nice people and you could do worse than emulate them vicariously through your offspring. However, you should brush up your Japanese if you want to understand their excuses. I can see the validity of opting for The Art of War, should you see parenting as a battle and your baby as the enemy, but there’s always the temptation of wiping out the little brat for good if one takes the author too literally, and good parents don’t really do that. If you use I, Claudius as a substitute for Dr Spock you are likely to end up with a nasty little Caligula on your hands and that wouldn’t go down well at the play centre.

  Third Question: Which book would taste best if it were a cocktail?   The way I see it, if Kafka on the Shore were a cocktail, it would be 2 parts light rum, 1 part Curaçao, I part sake, with a dash of kiwi juice. How disgusting is that. I, Claudius would be 2 parts sweet vermouth, 1 part ewe’s milk and that would be even worse. However, I see The Art of War as a delicious cocktail based on gin and Guinness, possibly with some Angostura bitters, stirred not shaken. And, to be honest, I think “The Art of War” already sounds like the name of a cocktail.  

So, you see, when somebody asks you “Which of the three books mentioned above is the best?”, it all depends what they mean.  That’s all for now, love, Heen xx

ps: sorry about the formatting; sometimes I can’t get the pics to line up right. That used to be Sheen’s job and now, well, she’s otherwise engaged, although actually, maybe not for very much longer now…

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