Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What gives us our names by Alvin Pang


This book is so awesome! I was at Books Actually and after Cyril Wong's this was the second book I laid eyes on. Alvin Pang had earlier tweeted that week that it was his bestseller of the year or something to that effect so I took it and flipped through it to get a feel of it. 

When I did that, I simply had to get it. It reads like Pilgrim's Progress but is diametrically different because instead of one long story, this chapbook is broken up into easy to read short vignettes on Success' ascent into, well, success, on the crippling fear that Anxiety possesses and the dejection of Failure. Loved it!

It helped that I spotted Alvin Pang at Books Actually where I was book shopping and the gentleman kindly agreed to autograph my book. Another reason to get it. Yay! I am a sucker for autographed books, having at least a half dozen of them at home, half of them by local authors - Felix Cheong, Theresa Tan, and Mahita Vas to name a few. 

I think absolutely everyone should go get a copy of this gem of a book. 

Not convinced? Here's an excerpt:

Failure had a lonely childhood. At school, Failure was a good student who learnt much and in fact had lots to share. He kept asking questions on subjects that were not in the textbook, and trying things that were not part of the lesson. His teachers thought he was a troublemaker. Most of the other students shunned him. He began to acquire a reputation for being odd, as well as ugly, and began keeping to himself. 

Later on, at work, Failure tried to make himself useful. He involved himself in as many things as possible. He attempted to spearhead new projects, trying out new ideas that no one in the organization had thought of before, but soon found that there were few others who were willing to chip in. Before long, he was burnt out with running around. When things went wrong, fingers were pointed at him, even though he was often the first to discover the problem in the first place. Eventually, he lost his job. 

It was while he was setting up his own business that he met Humility. She was a teacher in the school he once attended, helping students with difficulties, and wanted a non-conventional role model to inspire them. His name and student record had caught her eye, and she wrote him a beautiful letter inviting him to speak to some of her students. Failure was more than surprised, but quickly agreed. He spent many months with Humility and her students. With Humility's help, he found at last a willing audience for the lessons his experiences had taught him. Within the year, they were married. 

That was some years ago, before his business took off. He had many false starts, but Humility was always with him, and many of their former students became staunch supporters of his work, and themselves went on to break new ground in their fields. When asked, they always cited Failure's lessons those many years ago as being the most important element behind their successes. I hear they're now thinking of starting up a foundation in his name. 

As for Failure and Humility, they had two children who look nothing like their parents, but who share their deep strength of spirit. I'm sure you've heard of them, and they're much sought after nowadays. They're known as Experience and Wisdom. Ask them and they will tell you the story of your life. 

You can also get the book as you click here to go to the Books Actually webstore!

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