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3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  1,049 Ratings  ·  169 Reviews
Monstress introduces a bold new writer who explores the clash and meld of disparate cultures. In the National Magazine Award-nominated title story, a has-been movie director and his reluctant leading lady travel from Manila to Hollywood for one last chance at stardom, unaware of what they truly stand to lose. In "Felix Starro," a famous Filipino faith healer and his grands ...more
Paperback, Original Edition, 224 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by Ecco
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K.D. Absolutely
Jan 16, 2013 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it
For a first book, this collection of short stories is exceptional. Lysley Tenorio is born in the Philippines, currently lives in San Francisco and is an associate professor at Saint Mary's College of California.

This book caught my fancy while in the bookstore late January (last month). I saw an announcement of this book's launch for February 9 (early this month). I have not been to a book launch yet so I said why not? So, I decided to shell out my hard-earned cash to buy this book at a regular p
Jan 20, 2012 Jacob rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-fiction, 2012
March 2012

Cover love. Title love. Story love! Amazon knows what I like, and what I like is short stories. See, Internet Companies, it's not that hard! I don't mind the loss of privacy as long as you recommend good books. That goes for you, Google. You too, Mark Zuckerberg.

Great debut collection from Lysley Tenorio, about the lives of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans. Faith healers, B-movie directors and stars, immigrants, lepers, teenage delinquents, and sexual minorities. Great collection, hig
May 07, 2012 Sps rated it it was ok
Shelves: character, book-club
The title story was the best by a long shot. The others were dragged down by leaden Meaningfulness. Tenorio placed too much emphasis on too many objects, bogging down his stories' action and miring the reader in emotional muck. I'm sure I'm exaggerating, but it felt like every glance in the mirror led to self-reflection, every edible led to nostalgia, every flight of steps or escalator created vast distances between people. Ergo eyerolling. The beating-the-Beatles story, "Help," had such potenti ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I picked this up on a whim because I saw it was stories about Filipinos. My community has a not insignificant minority Filipino population (something over 5% and visible) and I thought this was an opportunity to learn more about their culture. This is not a book to learn anything about their culture, but I'm not at all sorry to have read it.

The eight stories are very individual to themselves. Sometimes a collection of stories will have a sameness about them, but not these, though there is the Fi
May 21, 2015 Sheryl rated it really liked it
Feels good to finish something, anything.

Took me forever to finish this and not because it wasn't any good but have just been very busy. Well I didn't think that with the first story, Monstress. It had the right Filipino kick and flavor to it but somehow I found the story a bit forced and trying, to the point of being a bit pretentious.

All other succeeding stories I found to my liking. Though the commonality of living the "American" dream and falling short of it was recurrent and quite sad in h
Aug 14, 2015 Monique rated it it was amazing

"And this is the truth I don't want to know: that the ones who leave and the ones who get left keep living their lives, whatever the distance between." - L'Amour, CA

Awesome collection of short stories that speak of the Filipino immigrant experience. Complete marginalia to follow.
Nov 27, 2011 Jenny rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenny by: ARC
Shelves: character
This final Hyphen review ended up taking a different approach from my original version but it's probably better this way.

Lysley Tenorio’s debut short story collection Monstress takes us through the metropolis of the San Francisco Bay Area to wasteland cities in central California. Tenorio’s Filipino and Filipino American characters dream of California as a Promised Land that will give them money, love, fame, or acceptance. This may sound like a typical first and second-generation immigrant stor
Peter Heinrich
Feb 10, 2012 Peter Heinrich rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I really enjoyed these stories. Culture clash and assimilation, gender identity, generation gaps, physical beauty and outward appearances, family relationships, love and betrayal—these are the threads that Tenorio weaves throughout the book. My emotional interest in each character grew up so quickly that it was easy to forget the stories were short; turning the last page on each one was always disappointing.

I'm looking forward to reading more of his work, as it becomes available.
Oct 24, 2015 Maria rated it it was amazing
Brothers is my favorite.
Aug 01, 2013 Mia rated it it was amazing
As a Filipino NON immigrant and at at the same time a huge fan of immigrant stories (A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, Unaccustomed Earth, etc) this collection of short stories is such an awesome, welcome addition to the relatively few texts on the Filipino immigrant experience. But, as I've come to realize what makes it such a great read isn't so much about the "Filipino-ness" of it, or to be specific the "Filipino-American-ness" of it so much as the fact that the stories themselves were ju ...more
Armand Alidio
Dec 04, 2012 Armand Alidio rated it really liked it
As a Filipino-American, I can relate to the cultural anecdotes and the common themes of identity and assimilation which weave their way through each story. These themes felt familiar yet fresh within Tenorio's imaginative storytelling. All of the main characters struggle to find themselves while either toeing the line between the Philippines and America, dealing with sexual/gender identities and family relationships or simply growing up. They each deal with love and betrayal with sadness and hum ...more
Kate Z
Sep 19, 2014 Kate Z rated it really liked it
This book was the One Book, One San Diego selection for 2014. It's a collection of eight short stories - each of them is a little "strange" but I have found that the stories and the humanity contained within them has lingered with me and caused me to reflect a bit on why I label them as "strange."

The story that stuck with me the most is the story called "Brothers" about the death of a transgender man who has been estranged from his family because he revealed to them that he was transgender. Afte
Mar 03, 2015 John rated it it was amazing
In another life I was a child protective social worker in San Diego. My brush with the Filipino culture was only a taste and never really had the feeling that I could assess situations accurately. My one cautionary note was that the males were unpredictable, macho and not to be messed with.

Tenorio takes the reader to the unfamiliar back streets of the Filipino reality and helped me to meet complex and extraordinary personalities that otherwise would have existed only in his unique perception. Th
Nov 28, 2015 Libby rated it it was amazing
Super good! Loved all these slightly strange stories!
Amanda Sie
Jan 05, 2017 Amanda Sie rated it really liked it
4 stars only because of my personal preferences/feelings of distress towards symbolism and short stories in general. but damn
May 23, 2017 Anita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the I-Hotel story while writing my thesis, but the rest of them this was the first time through, and like . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

a lot of body parts make appearances in this book also; lots of blood real and fake; lots of caregivers caring for unwilling recipients; a lot of wacky squidmonster level absurdity in stories balanced by young people describing tragedies with their limited vocabularies

also personally because I have a mcFreakin obsession with the coexistence of Obligation
Feb 02, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it
Few Americans could likely name a well-known Filipino-American short-story writer. Perhaps Bienvenido Santos or Carlos Bulosan, or the short works of Jessica Hagedorn, but I can’t think of other possibilities right off the cuff. I know they exist, but they seem eclipsed by better-known immigrant novelists such as Julia Alvarez, Oscar Hijuelos, Jamaica Kinkaid, Jumpha Lahiri, Chang-Rae Lee, Amy Tan, and Bharati Mukherjee. Well, a new writer has emerged who deserves attention and is destined to ga ...more
Feb 06, 2012 Dan rated it liked it
Originally published at Lambda Literary

The vibrant stories in Lysley Tenorio’s debut collection, Monstress (Ecco), depict an immigrant experience that reveals the implications of what it means to be a perpetual outsider. Intimate portrayals give way to larger meditations in these eight stories of Filipino fiction.

In “Save the I-Hotel,” forty years of friendship and the vagaries of old age have finally granted Fortunado the intimacy he’s always desired with neighbor Vicente, but imminent eviction
Chris Blocker
Jul 03, 2013 Chris Blocker rated it really liked it
Shelves: sa-barer
I have an aversion to rating short story collections. Some collections aren’t that hard to rate, because all the stories are equally good or bad. Then there are collections where the stories are all over the place, and how do you rate that? Do you go with the best? The overall? It’s like watching all the Star Trek films ever made and having to rate them as one. Not an easy task. And then, how will others interpret your score? Will they ignore a great series because a crap film like Nemesis drast ...more
Gerard Villegas
Monstress is a short story compilation of the Filipino/Filipino American experience as told through a variety of characters that reflect the culture of that time. In the title story, a B-movie filmmaker and his actress wife accept an offer to star in an American version of their vehicles while navigating through the craziness of Hollywood. Superassassin deals with a comic book loving teen who has to take care of his alcoholic partying single mother. The Brothers is an LGBT read that deals the af ...more
Juan Alvarado Valdivia
Dec 09, 2011 Juan Alvarado Valdivia rated it it was amazing
Wow, where to begin... I love this book and I'm not just saying that because I happened to have a graduate writing class with Lysley. I didn't think there was one weak story in this collection. They were all really good to drop-your-jaw astounding. Like any great writer, Tenorio writes with a great deal of reverence for his characters and story matter. For me--and I thought this was amazing (and I am aware that a lot of people overuse that word nowadays)--but each story had at least one sentence ...more
Nov 01, 2015 Nic rated it liked it
I was delighted that One Book One San Diego chose, not only a selection of short stories, but one that has literary merit. I first encountered Lysley Tenorio at AWP reading from the Best New American Voices anthology. (An anthology that only lasted 10 years, but was one of my favorites) He read from "Save the I-Hotel" which I later read and admired in its entirety.

Since I write short stories, and consider it my favorite genre, I read a lot of ss collections. However, a real test of quality is wh
May 20, 2015 Tin rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, 2015
Very beautifully and subtly rendered vignettes of the lives of Filipinos, Filipino-Americans, and Filipinos in America. It's amazing the breadth of issues that Tenorio manages to cover; there wasn't a thing I couldn't identify with. From the boy who fashioned himself superpowered in his struggle to cope with being a mixed race Other to the mother who, in her religious fervour, bound her transwoman daughter's breasts, this anthology is completely unafraid to look at the shadows in the Filipino re ...more
Jul 30, 2014 Laura rated it really liked it
All of these stories feature Filipinos and most take place primarily in the United States, the two exceptions being a story bout Culion, a former leper colony, and "Help", a story of one family's reaction to the Beatle's snubbing of Imelda Marcos. Many of the stories deal with the alienation of being a Filipino in the United States, a group that most of us don't think about that often. His characters range from charlatans to misfits to ordinary folks trying to fit in. I found this to be a deligh ...more
Jun 25, 2015 Lynai rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lynai by: Tin
Monstress: Stories is the book club’s book of the month for October. I love reading short stories and I’ve been looking forward to reading this compilation by a Filipino author during my birthday month. All of the eight stories in this anthology are excellent reads and I have a couple of favorites. This is one book that makes me feel proud as a Filipino because the writing is eloquent and the stories – they just strike close to home.

Continue reading for my thoughts about each story.
Christina Mitchell
May 15, 2014 Christina Mitchell rated it really liked it
Shelves: personal
This is the 2014 One Book, One San Diego winner - a community reading program sponsored by the San Diego Public Library and KPBS. I will have it read before reading events kick off in October. Stay tuned for my thoughts.

Update: I have read it. I very much enjoyed it. I am going to the One Book, One San Diego kick off on October 13 where to author will be in attendance. I am going to hold off on writing anything further until after that time. Cheers!
Malena Watrous
Jan 30, 2012 Malena Watrous rated it it was amazing
I adored these stories. How does Tenorio manage to be hilarious and simultaneously so touching? I really did laugh and cry, often in the course of reading the same story, which I consider to be the ultimate achievement and pleasure. The stories are specific to the experience of Filipino and Filipino Americans, but also universal in their themes and emotional resonance. A fantastic writer that I will follow eagerly from book to book. Write faster, Lysley!
K Flewelling
Jun 27, 2016 K Flewelling rated it really liked it
Shelves: stories
Beautiful portraits of people. The stories are ones that perplex, intrigue, and enchant. Maybe it's my own lack of appreciation for the short story form, but I often found myself let down by the endings. Nevertheless, this is a delightful collection, and the portrayal of these characters and perspectives leaves the reader with much to wonder.
Jul 08, 2013 Kz rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-reads
These short stories made me feel attached and detached at the the same time. It's hard to pick a favorite, but the story that touched me most was Save the I-Hotel.

Here's an excerpt:

"...Fortunado understood how difficult love could be, how its possibility hinged on a delicate balance between complete anonymity and the undeniable need to be known."
Feb 22, 2013 Ammon rated it it was amazing
A fantastic collection of stories, great characters and distilled moments that stick with you like a good story should. I would say Tenorio makes it look easy if I didn't know from this great teacher the years and multiple drafts that go into concentrating this level of beauty into prose. Also, you can get it in paperback, ebook or cake form.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Leche
  • The Kite of Stars and Other Stories
  • Aerogrammes: and Other Stories
  • Gun Dealers' Daughter
  • The Mango Bride
  • Dwellers
  • Manila Noir
  • This Is Paradise: Stories
  • When the Rainbow Goddess Wept
  • Karate Chop: Stories
  • Birds of a Lesser Paradise: Stories
  • I Am an Executioner: Love Stories
  • Imaginary Maps
  • This Is Not Your City
  • Moondogs
  • Bones of Contention: The Andres Bonifacio Lectures
  • Vanishing and Other Stories
  • Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self
Lysley Tenorio’s stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Zoetrope: All-Story, Ploughshares, Manoa, and The Best New American Voices and Pushcart Prize anthologies. A Whiting Writer’s Award winner and a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, he has received fellowships from the University of Wisconsin, Phillips Exeter Academy, Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, and the National Endowment for the Ar ...more
More about Lysley Tenorio...

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“...that breath of relief that there is someone in the world, finally, who understands what hurts you.” 20 likes
“I think I might understand the way time works: how its passing is impossible to see but when it's gone, you feel it.” 7 likes
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