Month: February 2016

2016 Books, #3

2016 Books, #3

Siglo: Freedom (Php 300.00), is for our graphic novel discussion in March at the book club. It’s a collection of “grafictional” stories about freedom in its different forms (“siglo” means “century,” by the way). One of its editors, Dean Francis Alfar, is quite popular in the local literary scene. I haven’t read him myself but some of my friends have good things to say about him, particularly about his works on speculative fiction. I saw a variety of styles in the artwork after scanning the book. I don’t know how to work with graphic novels since I rarely read them but I’m excited. This should be fun. So you see, I’ve only been buying books that I have to read immediately, which I guess is a good thing. And lately, I rarely feel the itch to shop for books. The last time I experienced it was so mild that I decided to go home when I’ve only scoured half of the shelves of one book store. This doesn’t feel like me but well, things change, even habits that you think are …

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Book Review – The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Why? A harrowing subject. I believe this is a difficult novel to write for Flanagan considering that parts of it are borrowed from the experiences of his father as a POW in a Japanese labor camp. The middle of five parts details the harsh conditions that POWs had to survive while building the Burma Railway. Some parts are excruciating that I had to kick myself lest I vomit all over my book. Two scenes that got me reeling are the amputation of a limb rotting with gangrene using a kitchen saw in a makeshift operating room and the beating of an innocent POW in front of the other laborers. This beaten man later died by drowning in a pool of shit. The author writes these back-to-back events unflinchingly with no regard to the sensitivities of the reader. I like how the Japanese and Korean officers in the camps were not depicted as evil, that they, like the POWs, are merely pawns of pawns in the grand scale of the war. After the war, …

Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish

Book Review – Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Why? The book is full of vitality. It appeals so much to the senses. You can see the graffiti in the ghettos, hear the noise of New York streets, smell the grease in Chinatowns, taste fast food burgers and pizza deliveries, and feel the sweat and sand and keloids and calluses on the characters’ skins. It’s like the lower class New York is packed within the book. The love story between Zou Lei, an illegal half-Chinese immigrant, and Skinner, a war vet suffering from PTSD, is written in a terse and engaging prose that made me keep going for long stretches of reading time. The novel traces, with such realism and unsentimentality, both the good times they have when they are drinking beer, working out, and making love, and the bad times when Zou Lei is ignored by Skinner during his bouts of depression and anxiety. It both made me smile-laugh and seethe-rage at the things that are going on, especially when Jimmy, the bad guy of the novel, intersected with the lives …

Book Report: January 2016

Book Report: January 2016

The 2016 reading race gave me a bad handicap known as the Slump, which is quite surprising because I usually go through such phases during the middle of the year. In previous years, I was usually enthusiastic about planning what books I’d like to read for the year. Like last year, I planned to read NBCC winners. Of course I failed at it but I really don’t see it that way because I’ve been able to read other books. It’s not like I didn’t read anything; I was merely sidetracked by equally good books. Now that it’s a new year, I can put the NBCC plan back into action, yes? Well, I have another reading plan set up this year but before I babble about that, let me tell you about the number of books that I’ve finished last month. It’s a grand total of zero. Yep, I’m still at the starting point. In fact, I only started reading again last week since November. So that’s roughly two months since I last finished a book. Actually, I wasn’t …