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News of the Shaman by Karl R. De Mesa

Image source: http://visprintpub.blogspot.com/2010/07/july-visprint-title.html

One thing that the News of the Shaman sealed the deal for me: Never, ever, ever again read Introductions, Afterwords, and all those parts where other famous writers try to beg the audience to read this author pleeeeeaaaase.

It. Just. Sucks. And that's putting it lightly.

So anyhow, I bought News of the Shaman because the cover makes it look like a young adult book, which I thought it was. But it isn't. I also thought it was a whole novel. It still isn't.

It actually has four stories in it. Short novels, they call it. Novellas, actually. But I don't know. I think it's too short to be called a novella, and I'm not even thinking page-wise or those big fonts. It just feels short.

1. "Angelorio"

"Angelorio" is a nice frontman for the book. It has the most meaty and the most appropriate story to begin the book with, holding your hand and leading you to the depths of the underworld and all that horror/fantasy thingamajig. So there's two mortals both looking for this taboo/forbidden/unknown/mysterious place that only the unearthly forces can take them to. It starts with a club (or was it a bar?) and secret hallways and other creepy crawlies of the dark that makes up a wonderful formula of being transported into an alternative and dark Wonderland. There's also gambling with the devils─cards actually─which is a nice "fate versus chance" touch. And also, a manananggal. A Filipino horror/ fantasy book will probably never be complete without one.


2. "News of the Shaman"

If I were younger, I would have fawned over this book and included it in my mini-thesis, which dealt with hero construction. I find few authors who make proper stories about communities, the whole shebang of different points of views all cooked into a cohesive meal, served to make us wonder: Was the Shaman really a hero, or a pathetic dangerous spoiled brat? Using different forms to tell the story, from news clippings to radio talk shows, makes it all the more engaging.


3. "Faith in Poison"

Oh, hello. Another let's-glorify-drugs story. Whatever. And don't get me started on the annoying anti-hero.


4. "Bright Midnight"

"Bright Midnight" will probably entice music geeks. Which I'm not. And also those in a band. I imagine it must be a touching story for those who are in a band. Which I'm not. So I actually found it cheesy. It's about a rock/punk/goth band (duh) simultaneously torn apart and brought together by the death of their bandmate. Who committed suicide. Which is probably the main reason why I have qualms about "Bright Midnight". I'm not sure if it's glorifying suicide but hey, it worked for Cobain. Anyhow, form-wise, it's tightly wound. The archetypes each band members represent were not that one-dimensional, so all is cool.


All in all, News of the Shaman is an engaging and page-turner book. It's also cute how characters from the other stories are connected to the other stories, not necessarily a continuation of one story to another. Probably a statement of how many stories one can weave with just one single character draft? Or it could be just laziness to make more characters. Who knows?



Si Karl R. De Mesa ba ay 'yung dating EIC ng Philippine Collegian?

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