This is how you lose her / Díaz

images This must be the first book I’ve managed to finish in quite a long time. I picked it up early May, intending to read it on the plane to and from Butuan during the three-day furlough I managed to secure for myself using the elections as my cover. I managed to read about 10% of it by the time I got back to Manila. The next 80%, I sped through in bed last night, and the final tenth, in Starbucks this afternoon.

Such rapid writing. Yunior, the narrator, is so frantic and lost and longing for somewhere in this world to settle. He’s hopeful, then jaded, then looking for another start; looking, looking, always looking. One can’t help but relate. In some sense, we all wander.

It’s December, so I’m maxing my limit.

Flashing the plastic (student identification card) to get my hands on these babies.

From top to bottom:

  1. Salvaged Poems by Emmanuel Lacaba. “We are tribeless and all tribes are ours. / We are homeless and all homes are ours. / We are nameless and all names are ours…The road less traveled by we’ve taken — / And that has made all the difference.”
  2. The Essential Arcellana, works by Francisco Arcellana, edited by Alberto S. Florentino. He’s a National Artist for Literature, and the College of Arts and Letters has a reading room named after him, so he’s got to be pretty cool.
  3. Lipunan At Rebolusyong Pilipino by Jose Maria Sison. Actually, Sison is the author listed by the university’s electronic database, but the book credits itself to Amado Guerrero (literally, loved warrior), Sison’s nom de guerre. LRP is kind of like the Bible of the Communist movement in the Philippines. The original owner of the copy I borrowed from the library signed his name on one of the first few leaves: “Augusto Escueta, Lucio De Guzman Command, NPA – Mindoro.” A quick google will reveal that a person who shares the book owner’s name is the President of a corporation and lives in upscale Barangay Bel-Air. Oh, the irony.

    (At this point I should make it clear that I don’t believe in Communism, although I do think Karl Marx gets some things right. I’ve been meaning to read LRP for a long time now in the hopes of getting a clearer and deeper sense of what the Communist movement is all about, so I decided to finally go ahead and borrow a copy.)

  4. How My Brother Leon Brought Home A Wife And Other Stories by Manuel Arguilla. I read the title story for a Creative Writing class last year and thought it would be fun to go through his other works.

In case you noticed, yes, I do have a newfound fascination with Filipino literature written in English. I’m trying to get out of the dead-white-male box of literature that I’ve been in all my life.

I can, however, borrow one more book. I’ve been thinking of borrowing another Filipino work, but am also tempted to get an English title. Then again I’m already reading (again) The Catcher In The Rye. Chinscratch.

Trying to make up for being a very bad reader

I’ve mentioned that I’m reading Miguel Syjuco’s Ilustrado for the Literature and Society class I’m taking up this semester. Even though the term isn’t finished yet, I think I’ve really learned to upgrade the way I read literary works. I read the stories in our syllabus as thoroughly as I can, but after we discuss them in class I always walk away with the feeling that I didn’t read into the assigned work deeply enough.

That feeling of shallowness has eased since the term began. Somehow, though, I think I’ll have to reread Ilustrado to really see what Syjuco’s trying to say. In fact, starting with my second reading of Ilustrado I’ve decided to defile my books by filling them with post-its and making marginal notes on their pages to help me read them better. I’ve also bought a small notebook on which I’ll be making notes as I read.

In a sense I’ll be starting from scratch, acting as if I’ve never read a novel before. I’ll begin with what are widely considered “classic” works: The Catcher in The Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice And Men, Lord of the Flies, and The Old Man And The Sea (number one on my list of Best Books of All Time). Frankly I felt really highbrow reading them back then, but after English 11 I realize I must have been so pretentious.

But in literature, most everyone gets a second chance.

Forgotten Photo 03: Sleepy at Eduk

I hang out at Eduk a lot, mostly while waiting for Katz. Last Friday I fell asleep in this corridor with my copy of Ilustrado over my face. I do that a lot—I have no problem lying down anywhere there’s free floor space that isn’t hideously dirty.

The dean of Eduk happened to walk by my hibernating body and apparently thought I was sick. She woke me up with a gentle nudge and an “Okay ka lang ba?” and told me I could go lie down on the Language department’s couches. I very politely declined the offer, said I was fine, and thanked her.

She said okay, and added, as she was walking away, “It’s a nice book.”

I still haven’t finished it.