Sentence of the Day: The Overstory, p. 105

The itching is insane. Every spot above his waist is unreachable fire.

Two Pieces Out, One Upcoming

Self is in the issue of Jellyfish Review curated by Grace Loh Prasad: SIGN. The pieces are so delicious and fun. All are really different, showing what self has always known: FLASH RULES. Grace’s opening essay is kick-ass.

(BTW: Seventeen Syllables will be reading at San Francisco LITCRAWL, 19 October, 6:30 – 7:30, at FELLOW, 820 Valencia Street, on the theme: Strangers and Ghosts! These readings are always SRO. Be sure and COME EARLY!!!)

Another story, Tu-an Ju (dystopian science fiction), just came out in Vice-Versa, the University of Hawai’i at Manoa’s e-zine. The theme for the issue was Otherworld/Underworld, a theme self felt could have been tailor-made just for her. Thank you to Pat Matsueda, Lillian Howan and Angela Nishimoto for putting this issue together.

And vol. 3 of msaligned is coming soon! Thanks again to Lillian Howan for soliciting a piece specifically for this volume, and Pat Matsueda for editing the series.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

How To Stoke the Fire: More from Rosario Ferré

This summer self made a stab at re-reading the late Rosario Ferré’s story collection The Youngest Doll. She remembers being stunned by the title story, the first time she read it. The intervening years have not changed her response to the story, not one bit. She urges everyone interested in feminist literature/island literature/Puerto Rican literature or just plain literature to read it.

In addition, self has been slowly re-reading Ferré’s essay on her writing process, The Writer’s Kitchen. The essay was published decades ago, in the Journal of Feminist Studies, but every time self re-reads it, the words are as fresh as the first time.

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HOW TO STOKE A FIRE

I would now like to speak a bit about that mysterious combustible element that feeds all literature — imagination. This topic interests me because I often discover, among the general public, a curious skepticism toward the existence of the imagination and because I find that both laypeople and professionals in the literary community tend to overemphasize the biographical details of authors’ lives. One of the questions most often asked of me, by strangers as well as friends, is how I was able to write about Isabel la Negra, a famous whore of Ponce, my hometown, without ever having met her. The question always surprises me because it bespeaks a fairly generalized difficulty in establishing boundaries between imagined reality and lived reality, or perhaps the difficulty lies only in understanding the intrinsic nature of literature. It would never have occurred to me to ask Mary Shelley, for example,  if on her walks along the bucolic paths surrounding Lake Geneva, she had ever run into a living-dead monster about ten feet tall.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Photo-A-Week Challenge: STACKED

Fun Challenge this week from Nadia Merrill’s Photo-a-Week:

  • STACKED.

A stack of one of self’s short story collections: The Lost Language

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Published by Anvil Press of the Philippines, TEN YEARS AGO!!!!

A stack of books at the London Review Bookshop, May 2019

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London Review Bookshop: May 2019

On one side of London’s Russell Square is the newly renovated Kimpton-Fitzroy. Love the stacks of ornate, ironwork balconies:

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The Kimpton-Fitzroy off Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Great Gilda Cordero-Fernando

(Read all the way to the end; this post has many digressions)

Re-reading a fantastic short story, “Hothouse,” by Gilda Cordero-Fernando, a mimeographed copy of which self just pulled from a closet overflowing with old files.

Thank you, Jennie and Marie Kondo for inspiring self to organize! She had to drop everything and leave for Manila for two weeks, supposedly Dearest Mum Read the rest of this entry »

Work-in-Progress: Camarote de Marinero (Part of Linked Collection)

“Father, here you go. You have your own room.”

There was a narrow platform which he presumed was his bed. Beneath the platform was a small cabinet.

“Your things here,” the boy said.

Later, he overheard the men talking about him: they called him cochino. Even though Matias was not fat, not even close to, he knew the most well-fed men in the villages were usually the friars. It was new to him, the contempt, the disrespect, because usually men of the cloth were treated with deference.

Another time, he heard the captain say, “sin experiencia del mundo” and assumed he was the one being referred to.

 

The Pearl Shop, Philippines

It always surprises her to learn that self’s got a following. Not here, IN THE PHILIPPINES. Which has thrived in her TOTAL ABSENCE. Like, go figure. In fact, she’s on the curriculum in the University of the Philippines.

She remembers giving a reading at a hotel in Cebu during International PEN, and all her books sold. Every last copy. Amazing, right? It sold out, even though the book was expensive by Philippine standards: 500 pesos per, almost $10 US. For a country like the Philippines, to have sold out at that price, for a writer who rarely goes home, is truly something.

She was at a dinner after her reading, and someone tapped her on her shoulder. She turned, and a woman self did not know said, “I just wanted you to know. I really loved The Lost Language.”

At the Cebu Airport the next day, a stranger came up, introduced himself, and said he flew from Cagayan de Oro to Cebu, JUST TO HEAR HER READ. Her hair was a sweaty mess, her clothes were rumpled. If she had known people would recognize her, she would have gone to a parlor.

Dearest Mum is always berating self for her lack of style. She looks, Dearest Mum said, like a slob. Because she has no compunction about wearing any old thing that happens to be clean.

The man who spoke to her at the airport in Cebu turned out to be a writer himself. He gave her a copy of his book. He writes plays. His book was published IN DIALECT which is so totally earth-shattering and amazing. No English translation, and self doesn’t know the dialect. But. Still. Self really believes in regional literature. Because literature from the margins is MORE powerful.

The writer’s name was Carlos A. Aréjola.

Here are the production notes, setting, cast of characters etc. from his play Unang Yugto:

Tagpuan (Setting): Cottage sa isang resort (A cottage in a resort)

Panahon (Time): Kasalukuyan (The Present)

CHARACTERS:

Edwin – matangkad, guapo (tall, handsome)

Toledo – mestisuhin (mestizo), 18 taong gulang (18 years old)

Dagul – 21, moreno (dark-skinned), medyo pandak (somewhat short), may body piercings.

Falcon – mestisuhin (mestizo), ayos na ayos ang buhok (Hair fussed over; sorry, that’s the best she can come up with)

Dalawang Dalaga (2 girls): college girls, magaganda (beautiful), mapuputi (white-skinned)

Mga Pasahero Sa Airport (Passengers in the Airport)

Cagayan de Oro isn’t exactly unknown, it’s a very populous province. But she’s never set foot in Cagayan de Oro, never given a reading there, doesn’t know a single person from Cagayan de Oro. Somehow, over there, in her home country, her book (with no marketing at all), has trickled from the urban centers to the provinces. Which means her work is embraced as a  vital part of Philippine culture. The knowledge is so humbling.

(Here, there’s a 40 Filipino Writers You Must Read List, which is published every December from San Francisco. She’s never on that list)

A few days ago, on Facebook, she met the owner of a shop called The Pearl Shop. Self accepted his friend request and then he told her that they sell her book. She said, Hey, I could send you some autographed copies if you like!

He was happy at the news.

The store is in Manila, and they are a purveyor of PEARLS (not a bookstore, in other words).

Heart Eyes, Pearl Shop.

To the end of time.

 

“The Son of My Father”: Story # 20 in Carlos Bulosan’s THE LAUGHTER OF MY FATHER

Make no mistake, this father of the narrator’s, to whom Bulosan dedicates 25 (memoir-ish) short stories, would be no one’s idea of a good father. He drinks, he gambles, he sleeps with the neighbor’s wife, he gives the family home to a Mexican beauty he has a crush on. But here we are.

Bulosan treats all his father’s foibles with such affection and humor. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE, BULOSAN MUST BE A SAINT.

From The Son of My Father:

“You are a tragedy, Simeon!” they said.

It was true. Father was a tragedy. My brother Osong was not his spitting image at all. Osong was tall and fair of complexion. His bones were sharp and the hair on his legs was thick and long. He spoke several languages and dialects. He did not drink anything that had alcohol. He smoked American cigars and cigarettes.

Father was small and dark. His bones were soft and the only hair he had was on his head. And it was nothing to brag about, either. He could not read or write.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

The Capitalism of My Father: Story # 7 in Bulosan’s THE LAUGHTER OF MY FATHER

There is such a streak of fatalism that runs through the Filipino character. Was that a legacy of the Spanish? Or was that always present, even before?

Carlos Bulosan was from Pangasinan. So presumably this was how life was in that province, pre-World War II.

  • The farmers sold their bales and went to the market. They bought the things that were most needed in their homes and walked around in the plaza counting their money. Some of them were lured by the gamblers at the cockpit, and they went home without their money.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Book Greed”: James P. Blaylock in POETS & WRITERS July/August 2019

  • A writer’s library is more than just a collection of books. It is also a piecemeal biography of that writer’s life, and measurably so, as most have writers have spent countless hours reading the books that they now own or have borrowed, hours that add up to years, perhaps decades, given a long enough life.

— James P. Blaylock, My Life in Books

Love this essay, which echoes so many of self’s feelings about her own library. Just recently, self decided to start reading some of her collection. Books she’s picked up from author’s readings, and then stashed away on a shelf, in the fond hope she’d get to them “someday.”

Someday is here!

Two of the books she’s owned for years but never got around to reading:

  • Carlos Bulosan’s story collection, The Laughter of My Father
  • Kelly Link’s short story collection, Get In Trouble (She read a couple of stories, not the whole collection)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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