Best Books I Read in:
Best Books I Read in:
About Mia Tijam:
Mia Tijam is acknowledged as one of the editors who have advanced Philippine Speculative Fiction and its writers, co-editing with Charles S. Tan the “Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler”. Her work has been published in venues like Philippines Free Press, Expanded Horizons, Bewildering Stories; and anthologized like in Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2005-2010, The Farthest Shore: Fantasy Fiction from the Philippines, BRAVURA: An Anthology of 21st Century Philippine Fiction, and In Certain Seasons: Mothers Write in the Time of COVID. Her debut short fiction collection “Flowers for Thursday” was a Finalist in the 40th Philippine National Book Awards.
Self’s eyes have been glued to the page ever since Harry started spilling about his time in the British Army, his learning to fly Apaches in Helmand Province, and his killing TERRORISTS! Harry’s ghostwriter has managed a marvelous piece of alchemy — he’s turned the rowdy boy into a touchy-feely type. Every time the anniversary of his mum’s death comes around, Harry gets panic attacks. Harry may not be the intellectual heavyweight his Pa is, but he has something even better: his mum’s ability to wring tears from your eyes.
Here’s a description of a poached rhino in Kruger National Park:
There, I said.
We quickly descended.
Clouds of vultures took flight as we touched the ground.
We jumped out, saw frantic footprints in the dust, shell casings glinting in the sun. Blood everywhere. We followed the trail into the bush and found a huge white rhino. a gaping hole where her horn had been hacked. There were wounds all along her back. Fifteen craters, by my count.
Her six-month-old baby lay beside her, dead.
We pieced together what had happened. Poachers had shot the mother; she and her baby had run. The poachers chased them to this spot. The mother was still able to defend or shield her baby, so the poachers hacked her spine with axes, immobilizing her. While she was still alive, bleeding out, they’d taken her horn.— Spare, p. 257
If tears aren’t spouting from your eyes at the MURDER of the mother rhino and her baby, you have no heart.
Is there anything more beautiful than a man with a voice like an ocean?— My Sister, the Serial Killer, pp. 48 – 49
I still have PTSD from that November. The stress and anxiety of living through the four years under Trump never went away.
The day after the elections, I was trying to cross Market Street to join a women’s March in front of City Hall. Instead I stumbled into a humongous “pro-life” parade. I called my friends who were supposed to be at the march with me, and they said: Are their colors pink? Because we’re with the “pinks.” I checked the parade and told my friend: “Their colors are green.” And my friend said, “You are in the wrong demonstration. Get out of there!” But policemen were preventing people from crossing Market, so I ended up watching helplessly as the giant posters of dead fetuses paraded in front of me.
That day, as I got into the car to drive to the hospital, everyone thought Hillary Clinton would win. Some predicted by a landslide. My friends were buying champagne. I was not so sure. Disembodied heads, like Trump’s — male, blustering, bullying, blind — had been hanging over the landscape for decades. Limbaugh, Gingrich, Cheney, to name a few, now Ryan and Pence, all men who called themselves “pro-life” although they would take food stamps away from the poor, health care from children, and social security from the elderly.— “Ordinary Devotions,” Essay # 11 in Anxious Attachments
Everything in this book! The drug issue is personal — most forms of addiction are examined: cocaine, heroin, crack, etc. Then, the cancer of the narrator’s husband. Finally, in Essay # 9, the cluster of cancer cases in Pima County:
Fernando’s sister-in-law, who grew up on the south side of town, died of lymphoma when she was only forty years old. She had been tired, but she attributed that to working outside in the summer heat, when she supervised juveniles sentenced to community service like cleaning up the parks or roadways. One day she woke up at two in the morning, worried that she was late for work. She was delirious. Her family took her to the hospital, where doctors sedated her, to find out what was wrong. The cancer had already leached the calcium from her bones; the calcium had gone to her brain and given her dementia. Whenever she woke up, she would yank at the tubes in her arms and say, “Home.” They would put her under again. Fernando thought she knew she was dying. For a few years, she had been telling him that she wanted to join the procession to San Xavier Mission at Easter as a manda, or a ritual petition, to ask God for a cure for his hepatitis. He told her she should worry about her own health. Maybe he suspected she was ill. She died in 2005 and only seven years later, both he and her brother would be diagnosed with malignant tumors.
This essay collection really packs a punch. I knew Beth from Stanford, I had only known her as a fiction writer. But her essays, the ones in this collection, are something else!
“Why can’t two people just decide one day that they want to die together?” I asked Fernando in 2000. Death was on my mind then because my father had just died and my aunt Dorothy was in hospice and my mother had a chronic lung disease and was trying to find a doctor who would promise to give her a massive dose of morphine if her lungs started to fail. She wanted to go quickly. She even quit taking her beta blockers, hoping her heart would give out first. In my family, we are more afraid of dying than of death.— “Stars and Moons and Comets”, Essay # 7 in Anxious Attachments