Though editing and reviewing manuscripts is sort my job, writing reviews of the books I read has been torture to me. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t seem to pull it off the way I used to; the words and thoughts won’t come out, thoughts won’t become words, and even if they did, the words refuse to form sentences. Years ago, I can dissect a book’s anatomy and do some surgery. I am morbid when it comes to that; it usually comes out bloody. Ha! Bloodstains from books! So I am here to resurrect that dead “habit.” I would be posting my “monthly book reports” starting this month. Well, I’ve been having blocks lately and for such a long time been suffering from that with suicidal frustration, so this might help me sort that shit out.
Since I’ve read books written in Filipino, I also attempted at writing reviews in the same language. Not even once have I ever done that; I immediately regret that decision but still finished it anyway. What I’ve written were like pieces coming from a dumb third-grader, quite honestly. The tagalog reviews really suck and you might find yourself having a bad laugh reading it.
• Hunger by Knut Hamsun
“One of the most disturbing novels in existence,” they said.
Here’s a fucking classic.
Sir Dostoyevsky’s force is so strong on this one that if I read it without knowing the author (Knut Hamsun), I would have thought that this was one of Dostoyevky’s works. The writing was highly introspective and intense I was mistaking the unnamed narrator for being one of Dostoyevksy’s heroes; it’s so hard not to relate the narrator of Hunger to Raskolnikov of Crime and Punishment. And yes, that’s the reason why I gave this 4.5 stars; but other than that, this is an absolutely great novel, and to think of it, this is an autobiographical novel, which means this is coming from his real-life experience meshed int o fiction; this book is one of its own kind. It’s one of the best reads I’ve ever had that I even read the first 150 pages over again, and after finishing the whole book, I want to read it one more time, but…that would be unfair to my other books; so, maybe soon. I still have a huge pile to consume for this year.
I want to write a full-length review, but I will have to read it again for me to really pierce through this succulent and powerful stream-of-thought writing page by page; the book is just that overwhelming. It’s getting inside the mind of someone losing grip to reality because of starvation. He strives to survive being at the brink, the most extreme and hardcore, of starvation, like there was only an inch, no, a centimeter, that separates him from imminent death. He even resolved to swallowing his own spit and eating rocks, even giving up—completely submitting to his helplessness and in bed, choosing the best and most comfortable position to die; still, he would find himself barely surviving and staying barely awake from full collapse, but he keeps himself as much as possible from begging, stealing, and losing his dignity—a suicidal pride. While he was getting consumed by this hunger and as he was wandering the streets to find a way to get through the day, hoping that his articles would be accepted by the editor, this starving writer becomes aware of his whimsical, erratic, uncontrollable impulses as they surface into his consciousness, and he admitted how helpless he is to these impulses and he doesn’t understand why this is happening. How he writes articles in the midst of this extreme physical and mental state, I can’t explain, let alone staying alive.
And the story revolved around that maze of hunger, along with his continuous misfortunes that keep him from getting through the condition he’s in. Whatever keeps him from salvation, only God and the unnamed narrator knows. Well, perhaps, both of them don’t. Disturbing and absurd, it is, but nonetheless, it’s so full of life, full of the absurd and the mysterious.
• Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
It came out not what as I expected. I thought this is going to be an erotic piece of bromancing that will burn my eyes—that is the reason why I read this in the first place: to test myself. Ha-ha! But no….this is about two human beings falling in love in a world which refuses and doesn’t allow them to call it so…
• Little Birds by Anais Nin
It was just last year that I read more about Anais Nin, and it was by then that I learned about her relationship with Henry Miller (one of my most favorite writers), which had an obvious impact to both their writings. Erotic, passionate, deeply intellectual, soul-stirring, so human—this was how the way the write. So during the last quarter of previous year, I had bought her books, and reading them makes me understand further Henry Miller’s works. Also, I must say that for me, she is, by far, the best female writer, and she reminds me of someone I knew, who was also a writer, who was also very beautiful, intelligent, and free-spirited, a woman of taste, wits, and talent. Their writing style even had similarities to the point that I thought of her as Anais’s reincarnate.
So Little Birds is a collection of Nin’s pieces of erotic literature, her short stories. The writing clearly showed why she is ahead of her time, making her one of the leading figures of feminism. And this book is so intense to the point that it could make me unzip…and more. Superbly erotic, so I gave this book 4 stars, and I’ll be reading more of her works this year. I see what I did there.
• Alamat ng Gubat by Bob Ong
Sa di malamang dahilan, sa pagsimula ngayong taon ay nagpasya akong magbasa ng nga mga libro ni Bob Ong. So salamat sa aking katrabaho na nagbigay ng isang libro (Stainless Longganisa) at napahiram nito (Alamat ng Gubat). Ito nga ang pangalawang librong na nabasa ko galing sa kanya. Natapos ko lang ito kagabi sa loob ng isang oras kasi di naman gaano kahabaan ang libro, kaya nga binasa ko nalang, at kagabi, bigla ko lang nabatid ang pakiramdam na magsulat na book review na tagalog, kasi tagalog rin naman ang nirerebyo kong libro, diba?
Sa aking palagay, itong Alamat ng Gubat ay isang nakapasayang kwento na tiyak na ikasasaya rin ng ibang bumabasa, yun lang ang masasabi ko sa inyo na hindi pa nakabasa nito. Sa nagbabasa nitong rebyo na ito, gusto ko lang sabihin na hindi ako ang klasing tao nga pumapasok sa Filipino subjects. Kaya wag kayong mabibigla sa baluktot at adik kong tagalong. Di ko rin nga matandaan ko, o di ko alam ko ano ang natutunan ko pag college. Sa di malaman ring dahilan, ako ay nakapasa. Baka meron talagang Diyos. Hayaan nyo, magsasanay ako ng husto.
Siyeht! Tang-inang librong to. Nakapalakas talaga ng imahinasyon ng nagsulat—parang adik, adik sa tsinelas, o mikmik. Isang modern-day fable na tiyak na ikasisira ng iyong tiyan sa kakatawa. Ito ay isang libro na ang laman lang ay puro kalokohan na nag simula sa paghahanap ni Tong (isang talangka) sa puso ng saging para magamot ang kaniyang amang-hari na may karamdaman: hindi na raw makalangoy, kasi nga naman, hindi naman talaga nakakalangoy ang amang-hari. Kaya pinapunta siya sa lupa para maghanap sa puso ng saging. At sa kanyang paglalakbay para sa pusong ng saging, nakilala nya ang mga iba pang hayop at insekto na talagang ikaka-gulo pa ng buhay ni Tong.
Sa kalokohang ito, may mga mensaheng ipinahayag ang manunulat sa taong-bayan, ito, masasabing kong ay isang satire. Malakas ang politiko na simbo-simbolo dito. Ang nangyayari dito sa libro ay mahahalintulad sa mga nangyayari sa ating lipunan—isang malaking kalokohan. Tsaka, tang-inang aso, natandaan ko lang ang aso na nasa libro itong na kumakain sa sarili niyang suka, at susuka muli para kainin yung sinuka niya nga galing rin sa kinain niyang suka. Pwehhh.
Ibang klasing trip rin ha? So dito ko nalang tatapusin ang wala kwentang rebyo na ito, nahihirapan na kasi ako, todong-effort na ito. Hanggang sa susunod. Promise, gagalingan ko na. Paalam.
• Stainless Longganisa by Bob Ong
Ito ay ang unang libro na nabasa ko na sulat ni Bob Ong na isang misteryosong manunulat na noon ay sa aking palagay ay isang intsik na nagpapalakad ng malaking negosyo. Pero biro lang iyon, obvious naman, dba.
Bago akong nmagsimulang basahin ’to, nagdadalawang o nagtatatlong isip ako kung matatapos ko. Di pa kasi ako nakakatapos nga libro sinulat sa wikang Filipino, nakakahiya ngang aminin, pero yon ang katotohanan. Kaya pagkatapos kong basahin to, ako ay bumili ng beer para magsaya. Pero biro lang yon, lagi naman akong umiinom ng beer.
Sa lahat ng librong naisulat ni Bob Ong, ito raw ang pinaka autobiographical. Sa loob ng librong to ay inilahad niya ang mga misteryoso at mala-teleseryeng pangyayari sa buhay niya, sa paglalakad niya sa daang lubak-lubak, sa daang puro kahirapan, sakit sa puso, nangangalam na sikmura, buti nalang may sky flakes, at sermon lang ng magulang ang abot—ang dakilang daan patungo para maging manunulat ay isa sa mga pinakamahirap sa bansang ito, at kung masyado kang magaling, baka ipabaril ka pa sa Luneta. Natuklasan ku rin dito kung gaano kahirap maging isang manunulat sa bansa tulad ng Pilipinas, na halos walang alam malawak na mundo ng literature, puno nalang showbiz. Masakit mang sabihin, pero iyon ang problema. Marami namang magagaling na manunulat dito ang mga malikhaing tao, kaso, walang sumusuporta. Kasi ano nga naman ang kikita-in nila? Makalas nga naman ang supply, pero konti lang ang demand ng mga mambabasa. Pero di dapat mawalan nga pag-asa. Kasi, papaano nalang?
Pangarap ko ring maging isang manunulat. Sa pagbasa ko nito ay lalo pa akong naging inspirado, eh sa katotohanan, di ako sigurado dun. Pero susubukan ko lang ang best ko. Di mo alam, bigla akong manalo sa lotto, ililibre ko pa kayo. Ha-ha! Pero Bob Ong, kung sino ka man, maraming salamat sa pagsulat mo sa librong ito! Wala makapipigil sa tumatae nating bolpen! Maghimagsik tayo gamit ang papel at bolpen! Bakbakan na! Powerspoonz in the house!
• The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Before I wrote this review, I read the poem again. And just when I neared the end, “a complex secretomotor phenomenon characterized by the shedding of some liquid from the lacrimal apparatus, without any irritation of the ocular structures” happened. Had I read it alone at home, I think I’d be bawling. No matter how many times I read it, the poem is still poignant as ever. If this poem doesn’t move you, I have bad news for you.
The Tree reminded of me my mother and how much she loved me. The selfless love in which she showered upon me ever since the day I was born made me who I am right now. That love shaped me into the person writing this. If there’s one person who taught me so much on how to love—it is my mother. I have hurt her countless times, but she still loved me despite of that. I even feel like I don’t deserve such kind of love, but she still love me anyway. Self-sacrifice. And for that, I am so thankful. If only all mothers in the world love in this kind of way.