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The Distance of Rhymes and Other Tragedies

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An old poet spends his days away from the girl he loves, bridging the distance only in rhymes. A magical green rose finds its way into the hands of a former lover, finally heaping vengeance on the past. A rebel grapples to make sense of his years in jail by writing a letter to his only daughter. A penitent professor scours the darkness for words and pens his apoligies in blood. A woman holds on to fainting memories of another life with nothing but the scent of flowers. Beneath an explosion of light a child is born, only to be murdered by the very faith it has inspired.

Hardly a book about misfortunes, The Distance of Rhymes and Other Tragedies is an excursion in storytelling down delicate and misty roads. At once adoring and passionate, each story bravely maintains a quality reminiscent of old fables but with a netherworldly hum. That it's a foray into the murkier side of the human soul is never in doubt, but one that offers illumination even as it ferrets for answers in the dark.

130 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2013

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Joel Pablo Salud

12 books8 followers

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Displaying 1 of 1 review
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
January 1, 2014
One of the best collection of short stories that I read in the recent past. My first time to read a book of newspaperman Joel Pablo Salud and I am definitely impressed.

I got this book from the launching of Rio Alma's Ang Romansa ng Pagsagip ng Osong Marso (4 stars) last year and it was given to me for free by the author with the promise that I would review this here in Goodreads. However, I am not rating this with 4 stars because of that. This book definitely deserves all those stars. In fact, I almost rated this with full five stars if not for some of the 10 stories that I found wanting.

The best story in this collection of me is the first one, The Distance of Rhymes as it feels like reading about Vladimir Nabokov's characters in Lolita (5 stars) but with the skillful storytelling of Gabriel Garcia Marquez what with the names of the characters sounding like those of Latin Americans'. It tells the story of an old professor who falls in love with his student and they have an age difference of 35 years. The plot seemed implausible at first but if you dig deeper into the reasons why it happened, if you become more emphatic towards them, then you would see the possibility. It is poignant, bittersweet and in the end, I would say but nevertheless engaging.

At Midnight's End is the longest story in this collection. It tells the story of a hired assassin. It is not your typical story of how an poor man is pushed to the limit so he ends up as a hired killer. Salud makes the character more humane and the reader could actually symphatize to how a decent man could turn against society if there was no hope left for him.

Beethoven's Child is, for me, the most mysterious and it actually verges on being paranormal. It tells the story of a fatherless child who is being taken cared of by his artist-uncle during daytime when his mother is at work. The child is deaf but he can play the piano like Beethoven. I do not want to spoil your fun but if you see this book in a bookstore and the book is open for a few minutes of reading, go for this short story as you can finish this while standing up so you don't need to pay for the book. Just sample Salud and I bet that you will like this if you are a paranormal fan and you will, for sure, end up buying the book.

Goodnight, Irene is the saddest among the 10 stories. It tells the story of a lunatic and paranoid father who decides to keep his only child, a daughter, in the attic so she will not be seen and won't be taken away by anybody.

Insurrecto's tight weaving of story is a joy to analyze. The ending surprised me. I did not see it coming. I thought that the epistolary format is just plain outpouring of the father's emotion as he recalls their family history. But as he goes on and on, the plot thickens, one can appreciate Salud's gift as an astute storyteller.

The other works are good but they reminded me of other works of literature or movies. For example, the gullibility and superstitions of the town in Godsend is akin to Ricky Lee's opus Himala while the Season of Green Roses reminded me of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. So, those movies spoiled the impact of the stories for me.

The four others did not leave any imprint on my brain. I don't remember them at all. Or maybe I was just distracted by the noise last night when I was waiting for 2014. So, I need to reread them. Maybe. Maybe not.

Thank you, Mr. Joel Pablo Salud for giving me a copy of this book. I am looking forward to reading your other books. I promise that next time, I will buy your book already. :)

Happy New Year, everyone!
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