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 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.

 

Some of Self’s Publications, For Students Who Ask

In Honor of Independent Bookstore Day, 28 April 2018: Novelist Lillian Howan Lists Her Favorite Books

Lillian Howan is the author of the recently published novel, The Charm Buyers. (University of Hawai’i Press, 2017).  She spent her early childhood in Tahiti and later graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. She is the editor of Wakako Yamauchi’s collection, Rosebud and Other Stories (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2011). Her writings have been published in the Asian American Literary Review, Café Irreal, Calyx, New England Review, Vice Versa, and the anthologies Ms Aligned 2 and Under Western Eyes. Lillian will be reading as part of the Ms. Aligned 2 panel at the Hawai’i Book and Music Festival on Sunday, May 6, at 11 am.Da22aPwU0AEXI99About her list, Lillian says:

  • This list of my recommended books is incomplete in the interest of space – I apologize for any omissions! I’d gladly send a list of 500 recommended books by women authors and poets.
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Lillian Howan, Author of The Charm Buyers

FICTION

Green Island, Shawna Yang Ryan
Home, Marilynne Robinson
Island of Shattered Dreams, Chantal Spitz
Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich

Steelies and Other Endangered Species, Rebecca Lawton
Swimming in Hong Kong, Stephanie Han
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, Lydia Davis
The Complete Stories, Clarice Lispector
The Country of the Pointed Firs,
Sarah Orne Jewett
The Lost Language, Marianne Villanueva
Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys (the 2016 edition features an excellent introduction by Edwidge Danticat)
Women Without Men,
Shahrnush Parsipur

GRAPHIC NOVEL

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir, Thi Bui

POETRY

Conjugated Visits, Diane Kirsten Martin
Dream City, Karen Carissimo
Invisible Gifts, Maw Shein Win
Power Made Us Swoon, Brynn Saito
She Had Some Horses, Joy Harjo
The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, Lucille Clifton
The Complete Poems, Anne Sexton
The Darkened Temple, Mari L’Esperance
This House, My Bones, Elmaz Abinader

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Variations on a Theme: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 24 January 2018

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is VARIATIONS ON A THEME.

For example:

“ducks in a pond, each swimming in a slightly different angle, or a wall of stained glass in a church, each panel echoing the other.” — Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

Below, the only copies of self’s third short fiction collection she was able to find (It’s only available in Manila), everywhere else was SOLD OUT!

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Found these copies of self’s third short story collection in the National Bookstore in Gateway Mall, Cubao, Metro-Manila! (January 2018)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Now For One of Self’s: “The Lost Language”

This was published many years ago, in a magazine called Isotope.

Published in Utah and edited by a poet, Chris Cokinos.

It joined together two things: science writing and creative writing.

You would find, in the same issue, a play by a physicist, a nature essay, a poem by a mathematician. That sort of thing.

Self loved it.

Chris Cokinos, what are you doing now? Know that self considered Isotope a very noble experiment.

Here’s an excerpt from the story they published, which became the title of her third collection. It’s one of those hybrid things: part essay, part memoir, part myth, part short story.

The Lost Language

Filipinos once had an ancient written language. If I were to show you what the marks look like on a piece of paper, they would look like a series of waves. Or like Egyptian hieroglyphics. Like the eye of the Pharaoh I saw in my old high school history books.

The language was written on tree bark. Epics were probably written in this language, but I don’t know what they are. My ancestors are shadowy people. Shadows.

When I was a little girl, perhaps eight years old or so, my mother gave me a book of Philippine legends. The legends were mostly about beautiful maidens and enchanted animals. But the story I liked best was about Hari sa Bukid, which means King of the Mountain.

Read the rest of this entry »

What the Writing Desk Looks Like Today, 20 March 2017

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Niall Leavy Brochure from a 2009 Exhibit Called “Inner Light”; copy of self’s book Mayor of the Roses: Stories, Miami University Press

Niall was here last year. Saw his work at Open Studio at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.

At the opposite end of the table, self’s book from Miami University Press (There’s another story collection that came after this one: The Lost Language. Self’s Dearest Mum gave copies to all her friends as a Christmas present, but painstakingly tore out all the stories she didn’t like, lol)

You will notice that today the writing table is square. That’s because there are two of them in her unit, and she switches back and forth between them, depending on her need for the scissors, lol

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Depth 5: About Self’s Attachment to Books

Books, for self, are the ultimate uncharted territory.

The depth of her love for books knows no bounds.

She was running low on her copies of Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila and Going Home to a Landscape: Writings by Filipinas, but her publisher sent a box of those to Mendocino last week and they arrived safely.

Two other books: Mayor of the Roses and The Lost Language, are in Gallery Bookshop on Main Street. Those copies she signed.

Self ordered more copies of her books. They arrived from the publisher last week.

Self ordered more copies of her books. They arrived from the publisher last week.

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino: A shelf in the science fiction section (BATTLE ROYALE meets LORD OF THE RINGS)

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino: A shelf in the science fiction section (BATTLE ROYALE meets LORD OF THE RINGS)

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Memoir, Just Because

At that time, I had a very old car that was ready to give up the ghost. I wanted to win something, something big. I was tired of living off garlic fried rice and scrambled eggs, which was the only food I could afford for a long time, when I was new to America.

— the title piece of self’s collection, published in the Philippines by Anvil: The Lost Language

White Whale Review 1.2

Sometime in this literary magazine’s infancy, the editor contacted self (through this blog) and solicited a short story.

The issue was 1.2

Now, the magazine is in its sixth year.

The story self submitted to them was “Dumaguete.”  Here’s an excerpt:

His mother had taken him to the green campus of Silliman University, and there, among the tall, old acacia trees, they’d stumbled across a small museum that held shells and various voodoo paraphernalia from the small island just offshore, Siquijor. From the city’s seaside promenade, one could just discern the faint outline of the island. All day, outriggers plied the distance between the large and small island, ferrying shell vendours and curious tourists to and fro.  Carlos had heard numerous stories of this fabled place, but his mother showed no inclination to go there.

Intrigued? Want to read the rest of it? Go here.

“Dumaguete” is in self’s third story collection, The Lost Language (which is only available in the Philippines).

Self has been to that island, just off Dumaguete.  At least three times.

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Stay tuned.

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