What Things Mean | noun 1. 2014 Asian Book Award winner 2. A young adult book written by Sophia N. Lee 3. A novel that uses special words to define the life of Olive, a fourteen-year-old who is, well, different 4. A story-within-stories that is set in the streets of Metro Manila, Philippines
Olive had always known that she's different from everyone else. However, she had long discovered how to cope with that with a few books, some clippings, and, of course, pickles. But one thing still troubles her. Who exactly is her father? Why won't anyone talk to her about him? Is he the reason why she is so different?
This book features a number of stories that have a similar thread: Olive's journey into discovering who she is in the little things that make up her life, like bristles, stamps, forks, and mirrors. In each story, there is a pronounced yearning not only of a reason for her oddness, but also a cry for a man she may call Dad. Sometimes a little funny, sometimes a little sad, each story takes us into the colorful life of a quiet soul who has never known what it feels like to have an ever-present father.
What Things Mean touched me in many ways, and honestly left me with a few tears. As someone who grew up in Manila (and has learned to love this old metropolis), I liked how real each scene was to me, from the long queues for transportation, to the friendliness of neighbors in my own neighborhood. The stories in themselves reminded me of my own concerns and worries when I was younger, especially since I myself was an introverted girl who found my solace in books.
Each word on each page also made me remember my own little anxieties and relish the kind of thinking I had while growing up. Moreover, the storyline pulled on my heartstrings, as I know how it felt like to lose a parental figure growing up, and how it felt like to have my heart patched, mended, and made somewhat complete again when I came to terms with my personal history.
I enjoyed this book, and I'd gladly recommend it to anyone searching for themselves and their own unknown stories, no matter what age they may be. After all, things mean different meanings to people, and even if we aren't perfect people, maybe we too will discover someday that we've done something right for ourselves....more
With Mythspace, I can imagine reaching for the stars, while digging into my own Filipino roots.
Mythspace is not your typical Filipino graphic anthologWith Mythspace, I can imagine reaching for the stars, while digging into my own Filipino roots.
Mythspace is not your typical Filipino graphic anthology. It presents 6 stories of a similarly connected vein, 6 stories that share the same kind of odd universe. This is a universe where kapres own starships, where manananggal can be among the most respected thieves, and where the dwende, tikbalang, and bakunawa have their own high places in the galaxy. Oh, and it mostly takes place in outer space, so there's that, too.
It sounds crazy, but the story-craters of this volume have delivered quite an experience. Not only did I look at alien tech and different planets through their eyes, but I was also brought back to the stories of old that my own generation has now forgotten. They were able to mesh well old mythological creatures with their possible intergalactic personas, highlighting their old strengths while giving them powers that suit their personalities.
Moreover, the stories themselves are rich with detail and thoughtfulness. These are stories not just of glorified heroes and weird plots, but also of poverty, of longing, of strength, and of character. Their mythological/sci-fi backdrop is merely a vehicle for them to portray complex stories that can be funny, sad, or even surprisingly real, but they all do have heart.
So read Mythspace to find out about daring adventures and curious tales. They may touch you, interest you, and surprise you in the most unexpected ways. After all, this is space opera, Pinoy style....more
You hear the gentle notes making their way past the strings of the old guitar. They seem to be oh so light, playing wiThe music plays, and it beckons.
You hear the gentle notes making their way past the strings of the old guitar. They seem to be oh so light, playing with the rays of sunlight that stream from the windows. You are taken away by the silence between notes, and the feeling of flying.
Suddenly, the beast comes pouring in. Angry, raging, staccato. The melody changes, it is intense. Your former state is nowhere to be found. You rage, rage, rage. There is nothing but a building passion - angry, dark, taunting. You strike through the beat like a madman.
... That is, until the tempo slows, and you remember what you're here for. Tame the beast. Play the music. Soothe the soul.
This is a book with rhythm and rhyme, flow and fugue, melody and music. It talks about prodigies and musical talent, while remaining rather reminiscent of Manila's glories. It's not perfect, being independently published, but it is an interesting page-turner, and something I thought that was unique, especially among the local Filipiniana books.
This is the kind of book wherein you rather need to be familiar with the songs to get the context. It's fine without that knowledge, but with Leyenda or Por Una Cabeza in the background, the text gains a different light, a different flow. With my headphones on and the music making its way through, I somehow believe that I can better feel the characters, that I can better see the sights, and that I can better hear the cadence. (So yes, do yourself a favor and listen to the music as it plays in the book. The author has links to the music he used on his website.)
The story is centered on a prodigy with a gift for the guitar. Note, however, that this isn't the typical singer-songwriter or guitarist we can find in bands, but the classical guitarist, the gitarista of old. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that such pieces and talents still exist today, especially in this world of pop, rock, jazz, techno, and what-have-you. I was swayed by Alejandro's dizzying journey into the homes of maestros, into the gigs and smoky bars, and into the competitions for success. I can only hope that this kind of genius is still cultivated, even if it's just in the darkened soundproof rooms of a crumbling university.
It was also a journey into the city of Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and the home of many cultural and historic icons. I rode the jeepney past the Cultural Center of the Philippines, I strode the night grass in Fort Santiago, and I braved the busy streets of Quiapo. There is also talk of Dumaguete, Spain, and the campus of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, but its heart seems to have been left in that old, beautiful city.
This book may still use some work with little details, but I believe that this is already quite the masterpiece. The journey is unforgettable, the cameos are fun, the story is interesting, and the music is sublime. Come, take a chance, and do a tango amidst these pages. There's still music to be played on the old guitar....more
I was, at first, impressed. After all, it starts out as a murder mystery in Dumaguete. A rich, smart girl with a bright future suddenly lying in a heaI was, at first, impressed. After all, it starts out as a murder mystery in Dumaguete. A rich, smart girl with a bright future suddenly lying in a heap on the street? Not expected.
However, as the story moves forward, the details get obscure, confusing and, frankly, too much. I felt that a number of instances here may not have been necessary to forward the story. I also had to stifle a yawn here and there, when the story deviated to deadened and probably unnecessary paths. I also got surprised at the time lapses, which honestly made me wonder - what happened between those unmentioned months?
(I remembered Mr. Tiempo's Farah, which I didn't enjoy very, very much as well, since it also seemed full of unnecessary detail.)
Still, it's an interesting mystery to chew at, with a smart Physics professor at the forefront. That he was also in the process of building his house for his family was also admirable, and I love the little quirky details that came with it - the buying of furniture, choosing the right location so as not to be directly beside the raucous neighbors, and getting suggestions from architects to have porches.
Otherwise, I thought that the other characters were not very special, though they do mirror reality in their own right.
The story is, actually, not a very unique one, but I found it funny that the why of whole matter has been given enough care as not to be divulged immediately to the reader, as if the mystery behind the mystery cannot be revealed so easily. There is also another storyline present, one involving a past, and a future.
There are notes of school politics, family, and legal issues. Detectives and police are present, as well as bigwigs and common men. The setting is provincial in nature, featuring Dumaguete most of all, and hints of Davao, Cebu and Manila.
If you're in the mood for a mystery story, go ahead and indulge. Beware, though, because if you're like me, you might end up frustrated with the pacing and other seemingly unimportant details. Still, decent writing, a different setting, and the secrets behind the secrets are here to beckon you....more
A lovely, heart-warming story about a boy from the province who ends up coming home to his family in London. I love how it breathes of provincial supeA lovely, heart-warming story about a boy from the province who ends up coming home to his family in London. I love how it breathes of provincial superstitions and modern living. The myth of Bernardo Carpio takes a special place in these pages, while family love is featured heavily next to basketball point guards. The dialogue is very believable, and the characters are presented well. Lovely storytelling, and a great story that moves mountains- almost literally.
(Currently playing at a 4.5 to 4.75, but I can't quite place it as 5-stars.)