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A Different Voice: Fiction by Young Filipino Writers

A Different Voice: Fiction by Young Filipino Writers of Philippine PEN Fiction Anthology 2007 is edited by Vicente Garcia Groyon. After reading the introduction, I figured that one, this seems to have the academe as its market; two, it's probably for the older generation (although the title shows that already); three, the authors are not far from my age so I'm pleased to know I'm still young. And that there's nothing really "new" with what I'm going to read because I'm apparently not the older generation Groyon was talking about.

Also, the book cover is so boring. I don't get it. Do academe and boredom go hand in hand? How can we encourage people to read with boring book covers? But I guess, it is for the academe and the older generation.

1. "Burgundy" by Dennis Andrew S. Aguinaldo

A driver for the bourgeois and his observations.

I don't like it. For such reasons that I don't get it.

I mean, I do sort of get it, like the way I get that a doorknob opens a door. I don't get it in a way that I don't want to read about doorknobs opening doors.

The ending is supposed to have this wise statement. I say it's a doorknob-opening-a-door statement. One can make it more interesting than what this story has done.

Also, its English language is weird. Not that my English is not weird. Or grammatically incorrect for that matter. It's just that the English here is slang English. Flawless slang English. And the narrator, in first person point of view, is the typical driver. Typical drivers don't do slang English. Not with the establishment of this driver's character anyway.

2. "A Reply to a Query" by Douglas Candano

It's an engkanto story with a moral lesson: Girls who fall in love and run away with their boyfriends will grow old. And die.

Okay, the girl didn't die. But she might as well have.

I half don't-like it. Just because I'm a card-carrying feminist.

3. "The Last Days of Magic" by Ian Rosales Casocot

My friend does not like it because she said the author made it look like as if nurses, call center agents, lawyers and accountants were beneath the "magic" of arts. Not that I'm the one to defend these professions but the dichotomy technique doesn't please me.

And my blogmates in http://dacouchtomato.blogspot.com are lawyers.

Plus, believe me--the title lies.

4. "Nostos" by U Z. Eliserio

I like it. Because the story involves college students, a bisexual, and UP Baguio. I used to have dreams of teaching in UP Baguio. My recent academic performance and social skills however, tell me not to follow through.

It's a good typical but not so-typical love story. The author's persistence to do a meta is annoying though. Especially in the ending. And that's saying a lot, for a person like me who usually enjoys all things meta.

5. "Boy in the Platinum Palace" by Maria L. M. Fres-Felix

I adore it. I guess in a formalist level, it works well. But I'm also guessing that my feminist and activist friends will not like the ending. But I'm going to drop my card for a while for this story. Because I adore light-hearted stories with goals that actually scoop out reader's hearts. And intestines. It's probably my middle-class sensibility. And I don't know why the hell I'm disclaiming.

A Filipino caregiver in an American nursing home. Discusses classicism and racism. It's actually cute and funny. Until one gets to the scooping-out-the-heart part.

6. "The Dues to the Unbound" by Pocholo Goita

Sci-fi. Currently trying to write one myself, I have respect for authors who can pull off the right scientific and futuristic data. But having read other sci-fi as well, I tend to ask more from their imagined future.

This is what Greg Egan did to me.

Also, the politics of gender being discussed in this story is, how do I put it? Unbelievable. If not believable, let's say pessimistic. I say, if one has already flying ships and chemically-induced whatnot, the politics of gender would have been more advanced in this story's setting. Either that, or the author is implying that macho shit is inherently, well, forever.

But I trust our world's men.

7. "Out of this World" by Ava Vivian Gonzales

Good. But cliché.

Wife who has an asshole for a husband. She paints to get out of that world. Get it? Get it?

8. "The Master of the Fragfest" by Carljoe Javier

I should have liked this story. It's about video games. I should have the capacity to relate.

The problem is the story made it seem as if it's the video game's fault. Na-uh. The big brother in this story is just really one fucking idiotic asshole. That's about it.

9. "A Ghost Story" by Francezca C. Kwe

I love this story. Although the title sucks, I really really really love this story.

The end offers no concrete explanation which makes the myths and experiences more scary, touching, and basically, real.

I love it so much that I'm not even giving a one-liner summary. Just read it.

10."FLAMES" by Angelo R. Lacuesta

I like classic stories about young school girls and their cliché coming-of-age experiences about family and love.

But I would rather read Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo if I wanted that.

11. "Hunger" by Gabriela Lee

What. The. Hell.

It's about a rock band vocalist by day and a manananggal by night. This leading lady became a manananggal because when she was fifteen, she went to get an abortion, needed blood transfusion, got it from the black market and tada! She's a manananggal!

There, there's your moral lesson. Never, ever abort your babies, women! Or you'll become monsters! Monsters, I tell you!

Plus, you will commit adultery and do a freaky monologue in your head, ending your story with a cheesy, cheesy line.

12. "His Brother's Keeper" by Paolo Enrico S. Melendez

I like the tone of the story's narration. But I didn't understand the ending. I didn't understand it so much, that I don't know how to give a proper summary.

13. "The Housemaid" by Timothy Montes

Fucking sad story. Fucking agitating story.

A young girl gets sold by her father to a man who needed a maid. Man has sex with her from time to time and pays her for it. Man's son rapes her. Son's friend (her former crush) also rapes her. She finds solace in a friend who recruits her to prostitution. Lesser evil, hurray.

Fucking sigh.

14. "Train" by Lourdes Parawan

A love story. Train is used as a metaphor.

Argh. Why does love have to be so sad? Argh. Why is this story so true?

Sometimes, I hate love.


15. "A Death in the Opposite House" by Bj A. Patino

A peeping-tom. A suicide in the opposite house. The title sucks. What the hell is this story trying to tell me?

16. "Hang Ups" by Francis Paolo M. Quina

Sex story. Threesome. I don't know why I was actually surprised with its meta ending--sex is writing.

It's okay, I guess. The sex is all artsy done. But I like smut more than artsy sex. Hey, I was a repressed catholic school girl, okay?

17. "Inventories" by Anna Felicia C. Sanchez

I thought I wouldn't like it. When I read the words "Full Metal Alchemist," I was like, great, another intellectual anime freak story.

But it was so good in bringing the drama out of the mundane that I tend to bear with the anime encyclopedia bragging. Don't get me wrong, I was an anime addict when I was younger. That's also exactly the reason why I can relate to the female protagonist. But the same reason why I feel icky with the anime info overload. Sometimes, I feel as if intellectuals do that so that their stories would seem hip. I don't know what psychological sickness would explain my icky feeling.

The story is about a young single mother trying to cope with her little daughter's death. Heart wrenching not because it's melodramatic but because that experience is just fucking terrible.

18. "Going Guiness" by Jonathan Jimena Siason

A young hunchbacked protagonist whose only dream is to be in the Guiness Book of World Records. Funny with a happy but not so-happy ending.

In the introduction, Mr. Groyon said that this was tween fiction. Sorry, I don't get you sir.

19. "Sisters" by Lakambini A. Sitoy

Again, I tend to like stories about catholic school girls because I'm egoistic. This is one of those I add to my list.

This story is about, wait for it... sisters!

It breaks the solidarity-among-women rule. Also, it's like a sophisticated version of Mean Girls.

But it's cool. Because it's historical.

20. "Radio Days" by Joshua L. Lim So

See number 9. Also, it's scary realism.

There was hardly really anything new with these supposedly young Filipino works but I don't really think that matters. Overall, not minding the mean things I could say about some stories, it was an enjoyable ride. I've had this book/collection in my shelf for half a year, I think, but never got to reading it because I thought it might lull me to sleep. But I was wrong. And contrary to what other people might say, I love being wrong.



law STUDENTS, claire. :-D not yet lawyers. hehe.

Claire said...

sus! pa-humble mode. :D ganun na rin un! :P

tina said...

thanks so much for spoiling the stories for me XP hehe.

yeah, boring book covers are so sad :( to think that's the first thing that people see. mou.

for the academe? does this mean they won't be selling this at regular bookstores? or is it gonna be one of those really pricey titles? mou.

@tina: sorry what's mou? hahaha.

@claire: i showed this review to francis paolo m. quina (one of the authors here) and this is what he said:

"It's okay, I guess." Hahaha. I love it. Thanks for pointing this out.

Claire said...

@tina: haha! sorry! i tried not spoiling in those stories i really want people to read. :P

and they did sell this in regular bookstores, national bookstore i think. but i don't know if they still have it. i'm also not sure if it's pricey. but usually, this type falls under the range of 250-350, i think.

@sting:haha! naku, dalawang tao na ang kakilala kong kaibigan siya! haha!

tina said...

@sting mou is just an expression i picked up from anime. dunno how to actually spell it... ^^;;

@claire it's ok... this post doesn't seem to be a regular review anyway :D 250-350 pesos seems just right if it's a relatively thick book. i guess they meant for it to be released to a bigger audience...but the cover could really use some work XP

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