Essential Reading: September 2016
It has been a while since I wrote for this blog. You see, I have been very busy ever since I returned to the Philippines for a playwriting workshop that I attended at the CCP. Also because the place I’m staying in does not have an internet connection that would allow me to write for this blog regularly.
Anyway, enough with the excuses. I haven’t updated this blog since July so here are the books that I’ve read from June – July:
- Almost Completely Baxter by Glen Baxter (5/5)
- Peplum by Blutch (5/5)
- The Colonel by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (2/5)
- The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes by Anonymous (3/5)
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The Last Interview and Other Conversations edited by David Streitfeld
- Zsazsa Zaturnnah sa Kalakhang Maynila Part I by Carlo Vergara (4/5)
- Mythology Class by Arnold Arre (3/5)
- The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestickmaker by Gilda Cordero-Fernando (5/5)
- Rite of Passage and Her Father’s House by Glenn Sevilla Mas (4/5)
- Zsazsa Zaturnnah sa Kalakhang Maynila Part II by Carlo Vergara (3/5)
- Children of the Sea and In The Land of the Giants by Glenn Sevilla Mas (5/5)
- In The Cafe of Lost Youth by Patrick Modiano (3/5)
- In the Dark: Three Plays and an Essay by Glenn Sevilla Mas (3/5)
- The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (3/5)
- Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley (2/5)
- The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders (5/5)
- The Summer Solstice and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin (4/5)
Almost Completely Baxter and Peplum, two titles from the newly-created New York Review Comics, is proof that the folks over at the the New York Review of Books can do no wrong. The Colonel however is a disappointment and I quickly lost patience with its dream-like style. The anonymously written Lazarillo de Tormes was an interesting look into the life of the titular character in Spain during the 14th century while Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s The Last Interview is an interesting look into perhaps the greatest writer of his generation. The two graphic novels by Carlo Vergara is a funny take on the superhero genre while Mythology Class is a mediocre take on the modern-world-takes-on-mythology genre. Cordero-Fernando’s short story collection is a masterpiece and that’s all is needed to be said. The three collection of plays by Glenn Sevilla Mas showcases the growth of a unique playwright from the unevenness of his plays in In the Dark to the fulfillment of his writing in his two most recent collections. In the Cafe of Lost Youth is average if I compare it with Missing Persons yet it still has one of the best evocations of Paris ever written. The History of Love has luster and magnificence has diminished as I finished rereading it yet it still has its charms. Parnassus on Wheels is mediocre and insulting to women because it assumes that it is a feminist book when it is actually not. George Saunders is an excellent writer of fiction and, having read his excellent collection of essays, it seems that he is also excellent when writing nonfiction. The Summer Solstice and Other Stories is a strong argument for Nick Joaquin’s stature as one of the greatest Filipino writers of his or any generation.
Starting this September, I have decided to devote my time reading books that will allow me to cross out squares from my bingo card for my book club’s book bingo:
- Gilgi by Irmgard Keun – This is for my debut book square. I know that NYRB Classics has the market cornered on reissues of neglected and out-of-print masterpieces but Melville House’s The Neversink Library is no slouch either. This novel by Keun, her first, tells the story of Gilgi, a woman striving for independence under the shadow of German fascism.
- Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts edited by David Shields and Matthew Vollmer – This is for my experimental square, an anthology of short fiction on the theme of faux-documents like indexes, letters, ads, and the like.
- The Best Philippine Short Stories of The Twentieth Century edited by Isagani R. Cruz – This is for my 600+ pages square. I have found myself in a constant state of hunger for Philippine literature after my two-year stay in the United States. This tome, which has 50 short stories evenly divided between men and women writers, is a good remedy for my hunger.
- House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – This is for my bingo card’s horror square. I have long wanted to read this book, more so after my friends raved about it, so now I think is the proper time to sit down and read this tome.
I’m also going to read an anonymously written book, A Woman in Berlin, which is our book club’s book for the month of September.