Have been rather ambivalent about updating this blog, as I’ve been largely unmoved in what paltry reading I’ve done this March. In the past couple of weeks, there has been a limping parade of books-that-thought-they-could. I argue that I read them because they were the only ones that called to me, albeit feebly—in a, “Hey, […]
Books are deceptively tidily-packaged keystones of great power—and, if you’re lucky (as I consider myself to be), years of reading will arm you with presentiments about what a protracted brush against that power might do [to] you. And I had that hunch with The Bell Jar. I’ve known everything there was to know about the novel before I read it, and every little thing was bad news for someone like me. Call it readerly superstition, call it a far-too-strong awareness of my own psychological climate: I stayed away from Plath’s novel because it was about me.
And once I closed the book, I went back to the little gauge in my soul. There was the usual hum that runs through you after a good and/or timely book. But beyond that: I felt strange—both superior and self-pitying; I looked at all the teenagers that swarmed that coffee shop, all those souls that would never ever need to be scared of a book like The Bell Jar—all for naught or otherwise. [Continue reading.]
First thing upon waking up, P. and I headed straight to one of our favorite Booksales, and after that we went to another Booksale; in the hours in between, he hoarded more knick-knacks and I drank my tea and smoked my cigarettes. (Do a riff on this, Sasha: How it’s the best thing to wake up one Sunday to the-man-you’re-mad-for-saying, “Let’s go buy books.” And later, a city or so away, the two of you mostly quiet in starkly lit stores—occasionally raising your head to find the other, to hold up a good find, to grin like the book-mad jackals that you two are.)
The “Currently Reading” counter on my Goodreads account has morphed into tally of bibliophilic failures; since the tail-end of January and all throughout February, the books themselves have been shuttling in and out of my bags, on top of desks both at work and at home, beneath my pillows, beside the bed, on the floor, and until recently—in the case of poor Simenon—where I keep my underwear. They’ve gone to and fro Quezon City and the heart of Manila, they’ve sat quietly inside my bag, beside computer cords and my make-up kit and chocolate bars, while I sat through meetings and had dinners both welcome and not. They’ve been opened, marked, closed, then set aside in favor of other books. [Continue reading.]
There remains a Sasha-shaped clearing on my bed; it’s the debris from the stillness of hours devoted to one book alone—there are (the leavings of lunch:) empty soda cans and bags of potato chips, an ashtray and a hollowed pack of cigarettes, a cellphone guiltlessly ignored. That is: I’ve finished reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower—meaning, the seventh and last book; meaning, all of it. I can’t remember the last time I was so consumed by someone else’s world for months. The last time I had something constant to turn to, a much-needed something to get lost in. [Continue reading.]
The thing is, children: The short story will persist, and our attitude toward it will endure. The novel may die, resurge, die again, get resurrected endlessly by its legion detractors and champions; the essay will toy with medium and length and preoccupation and ethical standards; the novella will always be the special little snowflake it’s grown comfortably into; poetry will keep curdling our blood with its beauty, its inscrutability, and its conceit that it’s the best form for thought-and-soul that ever will be. And the short story will be in a corner, nursing a warmed beer, brooding over an overflowing ashtray, trying so obviously and awkwardly not to meet anyone’s eye for fear that it might seem too needy—and it’ll be there in that complicated metaphor of a corner forever. And, kids—we’ll all just have to deal with it. [Continue reading.]