Author Archives: Oxana Gutu

“What’s left of me is yours” by Stephanie Scott

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Did you ever hear about “wakaresaseya”? It is a business in Japan which delivers broken marriages and divorces through agents who play the lover to elicit “evidence” of adultery. In short, they are breaker-uppers. People with pecuniary interests and/or desire to keep the child often make recourse to such services. This novel is inspired by a real murder trial in Tokyo in 2010.

« What’s left of me is yours » is a story told through the eyes of a child caught in the middle of this adults’ game. It is also a story of a woman who was pulled in the game by her bitter and broken husband. It is the story of the agent who fell in love with his target and their mutual love. It is the story of a man who had to become a father again when his grandchild lost her mother in this cruel manipulation. It is a story of choices between getting stuck in revenge and building a future, hide away or embrace humanity.

I loved Scott’s beautiful writing style. It made me witness events, feel the emotions of characters, smell the ocean and hear the sounds of places where it took me.

“The Art of Seduction” by Robert Greene

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If you are looking for a book on sexual seduction, this is not the one. By this book, “Seduction is a form of persuasion that seeks to bypass consciousness, stirring the unconscious mind instead”.

The book abounds with historical examples from ancient times to nowadays, from western to eastern cultures, literary characters to real life humans. I probably missed a chapter on the virtual world. Maybe in a next book.

This reading can inspire you to transform how you position yourself in the interaction with others. As with every book, you can only find there what’s already inside you. I take this reading with a grain of salt for my perspectives in every encounter in my milieu, personal or professional: “Nobody in this world feels whole and complete. We all sense some gap in our character, something we need or want but cannot get on our own.”

To wrap it up, in any relationship, adopt tact, style and attention to detail. Proceed.

“Codename Villanelle” by Luke Jennings

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This is so far my shortest book review.

For once I would agree with some of the reviewers on Goodreads: the television series is better than the original. Much better.

Our first virtual date

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Our first virtual date

We increasingly live in parallel worlds and switch from virtual to what we call “real” in the blink of an eye, literally. So, when my child proposed to organise for us a virtual romantic dinner, I jumped into it with enthusiasm. And gratitude. After such a long period of “date fasting” imposed by this unusual times, a virtual date sounded absolutely great. I would not have to worry about the cough at the next table, at least.

So at the appointed time, we logged in and got an invitation to join the place where a table with delish looking food was laid for us on a terrace just for the two of us. Our child acted as a host and was at our service with grace and joy. She also fully designed the place and paid for all expenses. She is a very generous person.

We did everything you do on a date: we chatted, ate, drank (water – no alcohol allowed in the game). We also had an invited guest popping in. Thank you, game creators, for the “block » button.

The fun part is that you can do in the game things you’d not normally do in real life. Like dancing on the table after the meal. Not that you cannot do that in real life, I guess, under certain circumstances, which you may regret the next day.

So, I fully recommend the virtual dating. It’s fun, unobliging and free, free from mosquitos as well.

Have fun and stay safe on the internet.

«Can you hear me? How to connect with people in the virtual world» by Nick Morgan

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This is one of the books I find to be appealing to different audiences in the same clear and friendly language. If you are looking for advice on your online and social media presence, this is the book. Equally, if you work in a more and more virtual working environment, this is the book.

I wrote about my take aways for the working environment on myprojectdelight.com. Here are my take aways for the online social media presence.

“Writing is hard; few of us do it well.” Our modern world requires all of us to become writers.

“Good writing also has authenticity, consistency, transparency, empathy, and connection.”

“In the virtual world, good storytelling is even more important”. Learn from the best and do not frown at hashtags. The shortest story ever belongs to Hemingway. His bet started inadvertently a flash-fiction game that has gone on to this day: six-word stories.

I found an abundance of great advice and tools here: empathy quiz, advice on basic online hygienic package, how to create and manage your online persona, and where to get started, etc.

And a call for action: “We need to reclaim our lost humanity on the web. We need to restore the emotions that all too many of the digital conveniences of the modern world have silently and unthinkingly taken away.”

“The billion dollar spy” by David E. Hoffman

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The main character of this non-fiction book is Adolf Tolkachev, a soviet engineer at a top secret military defense institute in Moscow. He spied voluntarily for almost 7 years and had 21 meetings with undercover CIA officers right under the nose of KGB in late 79s-early 80s. Tolkachev delivered to the United States a library of top secret documents about the design and capability of radars deployed on Soviet fighters and interceptors. It saved billions to the United States at the expense of the soviet military. He was caught due to a defected CIA officer who sold him to KGB for a bit of money and «refuge » in Russia. Howard did this in revenge of CIA kicking him out after a failed polygraph test just before his assignment to work with Tolkachev.

As I was reading the book, I realised that as I was peacefully playing outdoors, men in suits were also playing a game called « whose’s longer » in their race to dominate the world. I also thought that spies are literally made by systems. I do not mean the trainings. I mean by how the system they devote themselves wholeheartedly breaks them ruthlessly to the point of no return. Be it in Soviet Union or in the United States.