March 2016: Required Reading

February 2016: Required Reading Report:

1. The Narrow Road To The Deep North by Richard Flanagan - (5/5 Stars) A Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes still remains to be my number one Man Booker Winner read to date, but The Narrow Road is among the top three, definitely. Man, I am changing my views on Booker winners being entirely too stuffy and high brow and whatnot. This particular Flanagan book is such a page-turner. And it is so intense and tumultous and passionate and visceral and lyrical. Although there are moments when the lyricism turns a bit cheesy and unsubtle. But well, in the end, I love how the book made me feel. Which is a combination of disgust and awe and bewilderment and heart-break.     

2. Persuasion by Jane Austen - (4.5/5 Stars) Okay, I was resistant to reading Persuasion to be honest. It has nothing to do with Austen. I had a pleasant experience with Pride and Prejudice. But it's just that I usually find myself being reluctant and lazy when it comes to actually beginning any classic lit. By that I mean actually cracking the book open and reading the first few pages. I usually fight it, or put it off or something. But gosh darn it, I really enjoyed Persuasion. There are some philosophical musings here and there about love and life and stuff, and some soap opera melodrama to spice things up. And I love the idea of Anne Elliot as the protagonist, she's a regular girl. I mean she's not particularly beautiful or vivacious, and most often than not she is quite invisible to the family. And there is a love letter in this story that will just make you swoon. 

3.  Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story - This is an anthology of the most masterful short stories published in The Paris Review. (Thank you Angus!) What's amazing about this anthology is that for every short story comes a commentary from an equally well-known writer. And of course, since they know their craft, they take apart the narrative with great precision and clear insight and passion. Anyway, I read two short stories from this collection, randomly chosen.   

  • Pelican Song by Mary Beth-Hughes - (4/5 Stars) There is something really silent about Mary Beth-Hughes writing. It's like a fluttering of the breeze, but then you get these moments that charge at you with such force, it will knock you out. The domestic violence in Pelican Song, in particular is so tough to read because it is so real but also really poetic. I love the kind of characters this story has, they're real and have very precise personalities, and most heartbreaking is how vulnerable they are. 
  • Car Crash While Hitchhiking by Denis Johnson - (5/5 Stars) This one blew my brains out. Car crashing is such a terrifying fear of mine. And in most movies, all I see are the blinding headlights and then the aftermath of the crash. Everything happens in a split second right? But Denis Johnson's story captures the entire incident in minutiae. It was like having a car crash played in slow-mo, it was just so utterly savage and horrifying. And speaking of "incident". This story gives you nothing but. And at first I got this feeling of being in the dark, groping for things, trying to make sense of what are the things before me, and where I actually am. But despite not knowing,  Denis Johnson will have you glued to the story the whole time. And the writing! Oh, the writing! This is one of those stories where your brain starts scrambling about, trying to relish all those amazing sentences which is impossible because they are almost everywhere!  

March 2016: Required Reading:

1. Siglo: Freedom (Siglo #1) by Dean Francis Alfar (Editor), Michael Vincent Simbulan (Editor), Gerry Alanguilan, Andrew Drilon, Honoel Ibardolaza, Lan Medina, Elbert Or, Carlo Vergara, Nikki Alfar, Arnold Arre, Jayce Banico , Marco Dimaano, Jamie Bautista - This is our book club's book of the month. It is an anthology of stories all done in graphic novel form, from a group of talented Filipino writers and graphic artists talking about what freedom means.    

2.The Penelopiad by Margaret Attwood - Okay, I bailed out on The Blind Assassin, eons ago. Not because of anything else, aside from me being young(er) and stupid(er) back then. Now, I have on my TFG Bingo Card, a mythology book item and then I found out that Attwood has one that fits the bill. And it sounds mighty interesting too, having the story (or part of it) of Odysseus told from the point of view of Penelope and the twelve hanged maidens. Yeah, a chorus of 12 hanged maidens. I mean, doesn't that sound dark and delicious?

That's about it! Have an awesome March everyone!


  1. Carcrash While Hitchhiking is one of my favorite short stories of all-time. It is utterly amazing and near-perfect in terms of craft. It is also the first story by Johnson that I have ever read and was through the Paris Review Anthology.

    1. Oh my gosh, Carcrash While Hitchhiking is very amazing! Will hunt down Jesus' Son! :)

  2. I have Benny's copy of Object Lessons. Perhaps I should follow you on reading random stories instead of doing the traditional linear method.

    And what's the last book in your Top Three Booker Favorites?

    1. It's fun doing the random flip! You never know what you're gonna get. And Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro rounds up my top three! I am now reading Monique's review of A Brief History of Seven Killings and I think I might put off reading that one....Maybe The Luminaries. Or Wolf Hall. But geez, doorstoppers! Haha. (I did not quite like The Gathering tho) :)

  3. I feel like its been 10,000 years since i last opened my blog and visited your site. It's awesome to see that you enjoyed Jane Austen. I remember you were scared approaching classics. I'm an Austen fan and Persuasion is my favorite. I've been seeing Flanagan's book around but have been quite hesitant in reading it. Good to see it is promising.

    1. Hey Iphigene! Persuasion is delightful! I think I even like it better than the more famous P&P. Flanagan's book got mixed reviews on our book club though. But nothing short of 3 stars. It has a tendency to veer on the cheesy side during certain moments, but overall I still think it packs genuine emotions, and is well worth a try.


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