Sunday, November 15, 2009

On Books and Reading

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice.
- Gilbert Highet

I divide all readers into two classes; those who read to remember and those who read to forget.
- William Lyon Phelps

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

Another gem from my Booksale hunt.

This book has bite and it won't let go of any rabid reader.

Sharp Teeth has gone rogue with werewolves in LA. Barlow weaves the lycanthrope myth in free verse and flows evenly like spoken word poetry.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa

This find really made my day.

I remember being at Bibliarch once and 9 Asian fiction novels were on display, they were released with similarly styled covers. I guess they were being marketed as a novels having the same theme and feel. Three of them were quite popular already and one, Norwegian Wood being a common favorite of the literati. I bought one of the eight - Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. Since Dai Sijie the author is also a filmmaker.  But I also have my eye on Yukio Mishima'sThe Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea in my bookworm radar.

Synopsis: In war-torn Manchuria of the 1930s, a young girl and a Japanese soldier briefly find peace over a game of go.

A lovely photo of the author Shan Sa.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician

I loved the magic realism of Big Fish, this is what lured me in taking a chance in this book by Daniel Wallace and best of all the copy is in large print. Oh my poor eyes...

Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician is a multi-layer fantastical feast told by all the surrounding characters in reference to the main ones in the title, both whom we never really get to hear from. This book has just has too many tricks. Deceptive at times, this novel distorts its own reality like a fun house mirror.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Virgin Suicides and Middle Sex

Two books by Jeffrey Eugenides acquired two years apart from the same Book Sale branch in MCS Makati. Woohoo!

The Virgin Suicides is one of the most unforgettable and lyrical coming-of-age tales ever. Tender and heartbreaking, the dreamy narrative recalls the Lisbon sisters as the objects of desire and fascination of several young boys in a quiet little suburb.

Notably, the film version by Sofia Coppola was successful in capturing the foreboding mood and the dreamy, nostalgic essence of Eugenides' novel.

MiddleSex is a nosedive into the fluidity of sexuality, a tale of two sexes from the point of view of Cal, a hermaphrodite.

These books weren't easy to hunt down, but good things really come to those who wait.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide: Complete and Unabridged by Douglas Adams

Now I can read the whole series in one go!

A steal for P60! ($1.10)

Malinche by Laura Esquivel

I first saw Malinche at Powerbooks, one of the new releases at that time. It cost around P900 or so.

Imagine my delight finding it at P75 bucks! ($1.50)

The cover unfolds into this ancient diorama!

Love the feel of the illustrations! It matches the tone and mood of the novel ;>

Laura Esquivel provides a chapter long tell-all about how she wrote the whole book and the history and myth behind Malinche.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

My greatest find, a worn-out well-read copy of Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. The cover and typography is misleading though, at first you might think it was a cyberpunk novel, something William Gibson might churn out. But hell no, this is a 100% macabre page turner. This isn't some bloody mess or gore or Clive Barker.

Something worth its merit, Geek Love has well-developed characters and an intriguing plot-driven tale, a noteworthy house drama mind you that delves on deformity and the worst of sibling rivalry.

Bought it for 75 pesos, something like a dollar and ten cents, loved every page of it!

A taste of the prose!

Some Spoilers below:

Do not read beyond this point if you haven't read the book!

I guess I felt really disappointed for Oly. I expected some strong turnaround and resolved from her character in the end. I just so wanted Oly to confront her daughter and let her know the truth about the family, the Arthurians, her tail. I wanted Miranda to have a good look at her midget albino mother - accept or reject her on the spot. Perhaps it would have been more cataclysmic and satisfying to see whatever Miranda's reaction was. Instead of having Oly go down with Mary at a swimming pool showdown with a newspaper cut-out to unravel the details of her demise. I think its a weak cop out for the novelist. And a bummer for me!

On Chick, it was predictable in a graphic novel kind of way that Chick would blow the hell out of everyone. It felt like King's Firestarter or the final apocalypse in The Stand (Or well some recent hollywood CGI effects movie) But the book was written in the early 90s, I guess going up in smoke isn't as cliche and common as it is now.

Arthur Binewski remains the strongest character in the book. His megalomania, cunning and cutthroat manipulative ways do leave an indelible mark post-read.

I am just glad Katherine Dunn wasn't afraid to explore all the possible territories for this dark modern fairy tale, redefining our sense of perversion. I couldn't just stop reading and visualizing the Bagman, Iphy and Elly's sexual and overt nature, Dr. P's self-mutilation, etc. The book has a very David Lynch feel to it, the reverse norm and familial ties, the onslaught of carnies that come and go, can hold their very own story threads.

Those who like their stories dark, this one is the primo variety :)

Confessions of a Book Hunter

I love books for a variety of reasons. I like collecting them, and I would never read a novel in ebook form because I love the tactile feel of paper on my fingers. I like the company of books, I love being surrounded by them and I'm a bit surprised I didn't end up a librarian.

Though my Aunt Baby is a librarian at the biggest University library in Iloilo; my uncle Herman, a lawyer, was a voracious reader who up to his death was reading classic spy pageturners. My parents never read for leisure and would often dissuade me from reading books, they fear reading would damage my eyesight. Perhaps it has to a degree.

I'm not the Academic literary sort, nor am I a book critic or a teacher among other things. So forgive me, if my book selection may not be so ideal. I just want to blog about my book finds, share my treasures. I frequent Book Sale (all possible branches) and Bargain books (Waltermart and Market! Market! Mall). I take my 5 year old son with me and I leave him looking for his own set of books at the children books section. He drags me home by sundown.