Some heavy classics.

Oops, I forgot the title

The Sunday Salon

I have a lot of things inside my head so forgive me for the yakking that would ensue from this point. It has been weeks since I last went to a book store, and here are what I got:

  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (October 1) – I got this through the special order service of National Book Store (at Greenbelt 1), which isn’t serviceable enough due to the ridiculously high price that they charge. Good thing is that this edition isn’t that expensive. I got it for Php 455.00, and just a week later, one of my friends told me that he got his copy for Php 280.00 at another local book store. And that sucks because I first inquired at that book store (Fully Booked, that’s you). Oh well, but I’m really happy with it. I don’t know though if reading it on the bus will make me happy. Looks like this will help me build my lame biceps.
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens (October 13) – Some critics say that this is Dickens’s real masterpiece. Really, some say it’s this or that, so I don’t know who to believe. Anyway, I found a nice copy at Book Sale – SM Megamall (Php 145.00), which is an achievement because I rarely find anything good to buy at that branch in spite of the numerous books that they stack haphazardly. There was one time when three stacks fell all over because I pulled out one book, and this book isn’t even placed anywhere near the bottom.

* * * * *

Now, let’s go to what I’ve been reading this week:

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Currently on 338 of 428. The first and second parts are good. The last, ugh, I find it dragging. I don’t know why Austen chose to sidetrack the readers with Lydia’s affairs. Probably to give more insight on Mr Wickham’s character? But I don’t want to read about them! I want to read more about Elizabeth and Jane, the elder Bennett sisters that I find very admirable. I promised myself that I should finish this over the weekend, but life gets in the way. And life over the weekend is composed of going to the supermarket and housekeeping. Heck, I haven’t even finished the housekeeping because…
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – Currently on … the cover. I am going to start reading right after finishing this post. So if you feel that my writing is a little hurried, you know why.

* * * * *

Now, for some literary news.

Last October 11, the new Nobel Literature Prize laureate was announced. It went to Mo Yan, a Chinese writer who has great international acclaim but, unfortunately, unknown to me until the announcement. So yes, I looked him up at my favorite site for writers’ bio (I don’t even know what’s the name of this site). A few days ago, there was no entry for the new winner, but worry no more, they have an update.

So I relayed the news to one of my bookish friends who says that he doesn’t care about the Nobel. But he is inconsistent, which is both funny and bothersome. He was the one who told me when the announcement will be, which doesn’t seem right for someone who doesn’t care about the Nobel. I’d like to believe that I was one of the first few people who read the announcement (I was all eyes on a couple of live blogs). I wanted to let him know the news just to see his reaction. We exchanged a few messages, and I’d like to put them up here (loosely translated by yours truly).

A: Mo Yan of China won!

J: Nobel is so trying to be cool. It’s always China! Hahaha! Let them have everything. I finished Anna Karenina, and despite the talking dog, I still gave it 5-stars.

A: You’re so bitter!

J: I’m like a heart that has been hurt a hundred times. But it still loves. I really am bitter now! Hahaha! Disgrace? The Immoralist? Lord of the Flies? Fuck.

A: Hey, you’re overacting! And I thought you have this I-don’t-care attitude?

J: Oh dear, I’ve only read one Saramago and I could already tell that he deserves the Nobel or any award. Blindness isn’t even his best work. I’ve read Marquez and Faulkner. They are both like that. But Gide and Coetzee? Blah. Why not Mitchell? His writing, for sure, is better than that Chinese writer. Tsk. If our plates were made of china, I would have smashed them all.

A: You haven’t even read Mo Yan. That’s a sign of bigotry. It’s not healthy.

J: I’m very sure about it. If I can get a copy of him for free, I’ll read it right away. And I can guarantee that I will repeat everything that I said, not only so that I can stand for them.

A: Fuck, are you in an acting workshop? I have already moved on!

J: Hahaha, there. I vented out all my bitterness. Now I can read. McCarthy first and then Lolita! I’m very much excited. I hope they’re also beautiful.

A: How could you act like a Nobel juror when you haven’t read Lolita yet?

A background: this friend is really hoping for Cormac McCarthy to win. I also like him, but I just don’t see him winning in the next few years. Maybe if he comes up with another novel as powerful as The Road or Blood Meridian with a grander scale, things could shape up for him. So after reading this conversation, do you think he cares?

Me? I care about the Nobel because, obviously, I have an ongoing Noble Nobel Project. I know I have been a lame champion of this, but what can I do? My life (supermarket and housekeeping) is demanding me to slow down my reading. But really, I care about it regardless of the project. I have so much respect for the Nobel laureates, and I feel that each winner truly deserves the award.

So this year, the winner is Chinese. I’m very happy! I don’t care what’s happening in China (or what’s happening with the Philippines’s relationship with China). I was rooting for any writer from Africa or Asia because there is a dearth of writers from these large parts of the world. I’ve counted only five Asian laureates (Israel and Turkey not included). There’s Tagore, Kawabata, Oe, Xingjian, and Yan. I can only recall one African laureate (Soyinka). So yes, this really is good news.

So how about you? Do you care about the Nobel?


  1. Controversies withstanding, I think the Nobel is a good barometer for literature’s whos who. Not that I think that the Nobel is the end all, be all of all literature but because the Nobel sometimes bring obscure writers to the forefront so that their talents and works are not put to waste.

    I actually root for writers that I don’t know than those that I do know. Win or not, a great writer is always in good company. Nabokov, Tolstoy, Kafka, Joyce, and Twain never won the Nobel yet they are at still revered writers. Marquez, Saramago, Faulkner, and Hemingway won. So any side of the fence is as good as the other.


    1. Hmm, Tolstoy and Twain could never win because they lived in a century where the Nobel prizes didn’t exist. ;) Kafka, I assume, seems too bleak for the Nobel (like Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov). Nabokov, I have no idea. And Joyce? I’m glad that the Nobel never went to him, haha!


    2. Tolstoy and Twain died in 1910 (sabi ni Wikipedia) and the earliest Nobel Award for Literature was given in 1901 (sabi rin ng Wikipedia) so they are still qualified. I think it is because the Nobel was still Eurocentric at the time (the first non-European to receive the award was Tagore in 1913).

      I just think that the Nobel does not matter if you’re a great author. I just think it matters because it brings obscure authors to the forefront of the literary world so that their work can have a bigger audience.:)

      Anyhoo, grabe ba ang galit mo kay Joyce?:D Hahaha.


    3. Ah talaga? Thanks for The Corrections (pun intended), haha! I won’t bother double-checking, but really, I thought they died in the late 19th century.

      And yes, matindi ang galit ko kay James Joyce! I don’t like A Portrait, and Ulysses is all hard labor. I reached around 200 pages until I paused … for months.


  2. “Looks like this will help me build my lame biceps.” … “Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – Currently on … the cover.” Haha. Funny.


    1. Mahirap kasi basahin ang Uysses. A Portrait is okay naman, medyo nadismaya lang ako sa second half ng book. If you want to try Joyce, it’s safe to recommend the latter. :)


    1. Maybe you should start dropping by every Fully Booked branch just to make sure that they do have the Signet edition. Huwag na umasa sa online search nila. Hmp!


    1. Hindi naman ako sinasagot ni Lucy eh, haha. I asked for the copy sa Greenbelt branch, wala raw anywhere, tapos malaman-laman ko si Aldrin nakakuha sa Shang. Grrr.


    2. Masubukan ko nga sa FB Shang mamaya since may dadaanan naman ako sa SM.

      Also, I’m following your kagandahan na. Ang hirap naman kasing mahanap ng subscribe widget mo dito ko lang pala makikita ang button sa comments. Ano ba yan? Haha! :D


    3. Dun sa upper left ng browser ng screen my Follow button (on the gray bar of WordPress). I’m following blogs na on Google Reader, medyo pumapalya kasi yung WordPress Reader eh (which explains why I unfollowed everyone).

      Pero for the sake of following, I’ll return the favor to every WordPress follower. (PS, at kailan ka ulit namin mafafollow sa Twitter?)


    4. I realized that Twitter is eating a lot of my time. I’d rather spend it na lang writing blog post/s or book reviews, or surfing the net for literature related news.

      Napansin kong nabaligtad ang roles natin ngayon; dati ako ang nagpipilit sa iyo na gumawa ng account sa Twitter, ngayon ikaw na. Haha! :D
      Ang mundo nga naman bilog!


    5. I’m just asking, hindi naman nagpipilit. Sabagay, kung anu-ano rin minsan ang nababasa mo dun. Guilty pleasure lang naman, masyado na kayang cerebreal ang peg mo, hehe.

      BTW, will you be attending P&P or The Historian?


  3. Good luck with Bleak House – I tried it last year but am still not even half way through. The best part by far are the opening few pages where he uses an extended metaphor of the fog to symbolise the obfuscation of the legal system. Pure genius. The rest, well its not particularly rewarding. Kept forgetting who the characters were


    1. Hmm, seems like a challenging read. I intend to read Great Expectations first before Bleak House. The former, I suppose, might be easier. Thanks for the info!


  4. Hi, Angus! I plan to read Dickens this year, and I’m choosing Bleak House. I’m not 100% sure that this is his masterpiece, as there are a lot of Dickens scholars and a number of them are divided as to which is his best work. Anyway, I’m just waiting for the Penguin English Library Edition to come out in November!


    1. Teddy Boy Locsin’s favorite is Dombey and Son. Not that Locsin is a scholar, but it’s interesting to know that he chose a less popular novel as his favorite Dickens read. So you’ll be ending the year with Dickens then? I don’t know when I’ll be reading Dickens, but I definitely need to read him soon.


  5. At dahil dyan, namiss ko ang the inconsistency theory. ampf.. the very reason why I love Levin. The dog didn’t talk, nag isip lang. And Lydia is malandi (para siguro ipakita na di lahat ng kasal eh nakakatuwa.)


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