Monday, November 2, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Author:  Haruki Murakami
Country:  Japan
# of pages:  296
Year:  1987
Norwegian Wood is so beautiful that the minute I closed the book, a deluge of conflicting emotions swelled inside me, overwhelming me with feelings and thoughts that only a great piece of literature could ever do. I felt like crying and wasn't even sure why. Excuse me for being sappy. It's a rare occurrence, believe me.

Of course, the book isn't without flaws. While I identify and relate with most of the characters, there are instances where I question myself if I could actually believe this guy or that gal. Sometimes I find their lifestyle or attitude unrealistic. It reminds me of those Japanese manga boys that are too mature to be true - drinking whiskey, having sex (and being so gosh darn good at it) etc. etc. But that's just a minor issue for me. Maybe that's how teenagers were in that era. It's highly possible. We all are different after all. And I welcome the straightforwardness of the story. It was a simple narrative riddled with real human emotions - what's more effective than that?

Murakami writes about isolation, emptiness, grief, and loss, and then he messes you up by adding love and warmth, friendship, or whatever it is that keeps people going in this dark & insane world - all in one book. There's always a feeling of heaviness in his themes that is hard to shake off even after you're done with the book for quite some time. This is why I could never read one Murakami book after another. It will destroy me.

It's ironic, really, connecting with the characters' disconnect, sensing hope in their hopelessness, seeing a glimmer of light in their darkness, and finding comfort in their utter sense of isolation. You just connect, one way or the other, whether you see yourself in Kizuki, Hatsumi, Reiko, Naoko, Nagasawa, Watanabe, Midori or even Storm Trooper, whether you have an intense need to be loved or have that warmth inside or to not feel anything at all, not knowing where you are, just empty... whatever. It's all in this book.

Surprisingly though, despite all the heavy stuff I mentioned, Norwegian Wood turned out to be a fairly easy read for me. A lighter story than Murakami's usual style that didn't leave me feeling dark and bogged down, pretty much like what Kafka on the Shore  did to me.

It's just perfect. I could re-read this over and over through the years like Watanabe trying to recall his dimming memories of the past, reliving the intensity of each past experiences. This book makes me feel.

I love it.

I love that it tore me apart and then patched me right back up and destroyed me all over again.

I love Midori. I connected with her the most. Without her, I wouldn't even bother writing a review, it just wouldn't be worth it. Midori symbolizes everything that is beautiful in this life. That even when you long for death, even when your soul have died several times and you go through the motions waiting for that sweet moment of release from this world, you see things that makes life worth living. A beautiful sunset, a strong cup of coffee, a great book, deep conversations, wind on your face, fresh sheets etc. That's Midori. She reminds you that despite the bad in this life, there's also good in it. And you only need to live day by day, be honest and brave, and just feel. Suck it up and feel.

Just remember, life is a box of cookies. You know how they’ve got these cookie assortments, and you like some but you don’t like others? And you eat up all the ones you like, and the only ones left are the ones you don’t like so much? I always think about that when something painful comes up. ‘Now i just have to polish these off, and everything’ll be O.K.’ Life is a box of cookies.” - Midori

If you're a Murakami fan, what book would you recommend for me to read next?

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Author:  Elizabeth Gilbert
Country: U.S.
Year:  2006
# of pages:  334
Genre:  Non-fiction, memoir
Amidst the mind-numbing chatter which made this reading experience a bit shaky for me, I was pleasantly surprised how insightful and amusing Eat, Pray, Love  actually is. Relatable in a way, because I agree with some of her realizations. Of course I had to patiently sift through all the pasta talk (my mouth watered with all that pizza talk though!), boy problems, "me, me, me" issues, "I, I, I" crap, and all that first-world soul-searching dilemma that Liz felt like sharing to her readers, before I get to the meatier parts of her memoir. I mean one moment I'm silently cursing Ms. Gilbert for her neverending self-absorbed ramblings, like seriously - yakkity yak yak yak! - but then I read this and I can't help but forgive her. "To be honest, I've been talking too much my whole life, but I've really been talking too much during my stay at the Ashram. I have another two months here, and I don't want to waste the greatest spiritual opportunity of my life by being all social and chatty the whole time." I massage my throbbing temple and convince myself to give her another chance. Then there she goes again. The struggle is real. But maybe it's just me.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog by Edgar Calabia Samar

"Mahaba ang kuwento ni Teresa, paulit-ulit, paikot-ikot, gaya ng alon sa dagat na biglang tataas at huhupa, subalit maya-maya'y muling magbabalik ang bangis, ang galit, damang-dama kahit ng mga nag-aakalang nasa dalampasigan, nasa pampang na sila."

Ganyan na ganyan ang pwedeng kong sabihin sa librong ito ni Sir Egay Samar. Paikot-ikot, pasikot-sikot. Akala mo ang simple lang, pag minsan ang lalim... akala mo ang obvious, pag minsan nakakalito... akala mo boring, pero teka, asan na ba ako? Ayan nawawala na ako.

Author:  Edgar Calabia Samar
Country:  Philippines
Language:  Filipino
# of pages:  232
Year published:  2008
(English translation:  Eight Muses of the Fall)
Aaminin ko, sa unang parte ng libro ay naging mahirap talaga para sakin. Pag minsan parang zombie na lang ako na nakatingin sa mga letra at salita, parang robot na automatic ko na lang na iniiscan ang mga linya. Pero dahil ang isang bookworm ay may konsiyensya sa pagbabasa, heto't uulit-ulitin ko ang mga paragraphs, pag minsan mga pahina. Nahirapan akong sakyan ang flow. Hindi dahil mahirap intindihin (ang ibang mga salita oo. Lalim men!) kundi dahil disjointed. Putol-putol dahil nga binabagtas mo ang kwento kung saan ang iyong guide ay medyo naliligaw din ng landas. Sa una medyo wala akong amor sa bida - si Daniel. Ilang beses ko rin naramdaman ang yamot dahil sa pagkahaba-habang mabulaklak na prose na hindi ko naman alam ang mga nangyayari. Frustrating ang unang 60 pages ng libro para sa akin.

Pero pagkatapos nun, nag-iba na ang takbo ng istorya. Di ko alam ano ang nangyari, pero tuloy-tuloy ko na syang binabasa. Pag minsan ay mararamdaman ko parin ang panandaliang inip. Tipong "jusko andami mong satsat Daniel walang kwenta ang sinasabi mo!", pero tulad ng alon sa dagat, hahampasin ulit ako ng isang matinding "feels" at madadala ulit ako sa dagat ng mapaglarong panulat ni Egay.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Responde by Norman Wilwayco

Labindalawang maiikling kwento ni Norman Wilwayco na nagbigay sakin ng iba't ibang emosyon. Labindalawa ring beses winarak ang puso ko. Labindalawang istorya ng iba't ibang klaseng kaadikan, kahalayan, kabastusan, kawalan ng dignidad, kahindik-hindik, at kamulat-mulat na mga kwentong Pinoy. Welcome to the dark side.

Author:  Norman Wilwayco (Iwa)
Year published:  2012
# of pages:  246
Country/Language:  Philippines (Filipino)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

[MOVIEHOUSE MADNESS]: Interstellar (2014)

It's rare for me to be so confused after watching a film. Confused, not because of the plot, but because I was trying to gauge my feelings towards it. Did I love it? Did I hate the spine of the story? From standing up from my seat, to peeing, to walking out of the movie house, down the escalator, and to the parking lot, I was thinking. My mind was like in a jumbled time-space continuum, struggling, wondering, puzzling over the movie I just saw. Even on the way home, I was mostly silent, well, at a loss for words is more appropriate - which is unusual for me. Any other movie I would have been gushing or ranting.

What got me so confused is that for a highly anticipated movie, Interstellar made me feel overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time.

Directed by:  Christopher Nolan
Written by:  Jonathan & Christopher Nolan
Music by:  Hans Zimmer
Cinematography by:  Hoyte van Hoytema
Edited by:  Lee Smith
Running time:  169 mins
Budget:  $165 million
Box Office:  over $322 million

Monday, September 29, 2014


"MOVIEHOUSE MADNESS" is when I review films currently shown in theaters. Also, I rarely watch new releases in the cinemas, but when I do, there are always face-palming incidences that make me regret going. So humor me and let me tell you what I think before you waste your ticket money, while refreshing your memory of the ABCs of movie house etiquette!

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT:  A rarity in Pinoy horror genre, Dementia stays away from blood & hysterics, instead, it capitalizes on the gothic setting & tension. Nora Aunor blows us away with her mesmerizing non-verbal performances, that we pardon the average plot  - something that the usual nitpicking critic will tear apart if it wasn't for Aunor's superb acting and Intalan's impressive direction.

Directed by: Percival Intalan (directorial debut)
Screenplay/Story:  Renei Dimla, Jun Lana
Starring:  Nora Aunor, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Bing Loyzaga, Yul Servo, Chynna Ortaleza

It's so hard for me to take Filipino horror films seriously what with their typical borrowed Hollywood formula that fails so miserably, cheap CGI & scare tactics, and untalented actors mainly cast for their face value/celebrity status more than anything else, to cite a few reasons. I remember laughing so hard at Pagpag: Siyam na Buhay or Dalaw (at Kris Aquino, more than anything else), that my mind registers "comedy" whenever I see a Pinoy horror movie showing in the cinemas. Dementia, is something else.


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