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Book appreciation posts

Pinoy Komiks: Trese

trese

The TRESE universe (click image for a larger version)

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It was only late last year that I was introduced to the world of TRESE (sad, I know) by one of my good friends V. Lately I’ve been too caught up with my readings from foreign writers both in novel and comic book form that I failed to see the thriving local talent here *guilty*. TRESE, a comic book series by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, truly opened my eyes to what I was missing out on in my own backyard. All at once from the first book in this comic book series, I found myself on an awesomely thrilling and engaging reading adventure that went through the mysterious and supernatural cases in the inner bowels of Metro Manila and it just left me wanting more and more of that enchanting action.

The comic book series focuses on Alexandra Trese, who is best described as an occult detective figure, and her investigations of supernatural crime in the modern day Metro Manila. Working in league with the local police department, Alexandra Trese acts as a ‘consulting detective’ when seemingly normal crimes around the Metro take a turn for the odd, fantastic and supernatural. The stories or in this case, ‘cases’ in TRESE used Filipino mythological and horror icons and themes with a contemporary twist (aswangs working in meat shops and I would very much love to learn how to summon a santelmo through a cellphone whenever I want some company or someone to chat with).

We have to note that the premise doesn’t focus on the sudden eruption of the supernatural/underworld into the human realm but that the supernatural is ever-present among us in society. They aren’t considered anomalies but they are “hidden” and continue to thrive in society, whether through a supernatural criminal underworld (with the kaluluwa smuggling operations) or as contributors to the society in general (a tikbalang clan allied with a prominent family residing in Makati).

With this, it is Alexandra’s responsibility as the babaylan (healer) and mangdirigma (warrior) of the city to bring balance whenever the balance of the human and supernatural realm is disrupted and to keep one from spilling over the other. Unlike other comic book witches/mages/etc., Alexandra has no superpowers. The power she manifests derives from magical skill and know-how. And yet, she is one of the most dynamic heroines I’ve ever encountered and the how she doesn’t take any aswang bullshit is commendable, and she became an instant favorite heroine.

There are currently five books in this series: Murder on Balete Drive, Unreported Murders, Mass Murders, Last Seen After Midnight, and the most recent Midnight Tribunal. TRESE clearly falls under the occult detective genre and explores supernatural themes similarly found in Hellblazer, Hellboy, American Gods and even folkore narratives found in Japanese manga and anime (XXXHolic).

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Ada or Ardor: Hands

“Her poor pretty hands—one could not help cooing with pity over them—rosy in comparison to the translucent skin of the arm, rosier even than the elbow that seemed to be blushing for the state of her nails: she bit them so thoroughly that all vestige of free margin was replaced by a groove cutting into the flesh with the tightness of wire and lending an additional spatule of length to her naked fingertips. Later, when he was so fond of kissing her cold hands she would clench them, allowing his lips nothing but knuckle, but he would fiercely pry her hand open to get at those flat blind little cushions.” —Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov

I’m re-reading my favorite parts of this book so I can jot the down neatly in a certain notebook filled with my favorite moments and passages in literature. I absolutely love Ada or Ardor and let’s face it, it’s horrible but it’s incredibly beautiful for me in a heartbreaking, sad and strange way and it continues to be one of my favorites.  The richness and the language is breathtakingly visual and there’s nothing like a work by Nabokov.

Any Nabokov fans here? Which book or stories he write did you love best? And I’m also curious if anyone also has a notebook where they jot down their favorite passages or moments from literature.

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A Friendly Reminder for Us Book Lovers this March

‘In March read the books you’ve always meant to read’

March 25, 1941, WPA Art Project Chicago

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Despite being on a tight budget, I’m definitely going to buy at least one book in my current book list and read them for the rest of the summer season. I’m planning to get one of these:

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
Looking for Alaska – John Green
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

So, in March, what are you reading?

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R’s Thoughts: A Clash of Kings

Finally finished my copy of A Clash of Kings the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R Martin and I’m just like:

I’m terribly happy and satisfied with the book and it took me a little over two weeks to finish it. Not sure if you consider that fast for 1000+ page book because I just can’t put it down and I’ve been at it pratically everyday given the luxury of time I have. Initially, I planned on reading it come February given the time span till the premiere of HBO’s adaptation of it on April but having it sit there on my bookshelf with it’s bright yellow gold cover (it’s hard to miss), the temptation was just too strong. Awesome boyfriend is awesome of course since he was the one responsible that I get a copy of it as a New Year’s gift.

Can I just share first how cute is my cat bookmark? The gap in his mouth opens up so it can fit snuggly in a page or even a whole chapter so I can keep track of where I stopped.

For this entry, I’ll try my best to be as coherent as possible. Note that I will be using .gifs to further emphasize my point on how I found the book. At this point though let me just say I loved it better than the first book.  I’m still not over the effect it has on me after reading it and I just re-read my favorite chapters this morning and I just …

  This won’t be spoiler free, I assure you. So if you haven’t read the book yet or don’t want to be spoiled on anything season 2 has in store for us this April 1st, I suggest you don’t go beyond the cut. Hodor? Hodor.

Thank you!

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The Velveteen Rabbit

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.

– Margery Williams

I ended up reading again this whole book last night and it brought me to my favorite story of the collection– The Velveteen Rabbit. My mom gave me a set of brightly colored books, which included this certain purple one. I let my mom look at them last night and told me she remembered that I was 5 years old then and she wanted me to have plenty of books then so I could be busy with something other than drawing all the time plus she was busy taking care of my baby brother.

This story in particular was so memorable. It gave me silly ideas that my stuff toys would become real and there was such a thing as “NURSERY MAGIC” and I had to stay up and be sneaky about my bedroom waiting for them to become real. This just made me love them more.

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A Whole Day of Reading

A recap of the holidays last year was that it felt too short, too hurried and a little overrated for me. I was in a festive mood but not exactly 100% into it with Energizer Bunny hyperness to go with the events. The most likely cause for this was the December NLE which, after taking the exams, made me feel like I’ll be stuck in the rut for the next two months before the results come out. It was just a simple Christmas celebration here at home but we’re all happy and content in our own way. I’m just happy my family’s safe and we’re all in good health.

P’s wonderful Christmas gifts for me 🙂

P was being the best kind of amazing during the holidays. It felt really good to have him with me during the whole difficult preparation for the NLE plus he was always ready to give me a happy hug. I’m definitely in love with the Sooper Feesh cut-out he gave as one of his gifts. Sooper Feesh is the character he made which started out as a random doodle during review classes. Fishies remind him of me, he said and so came Sooper Feesh, the fish… within a fish. Nope, it doesn’t really make sense but for us it doesn’t have to be all the time.

And just before the new year kicked in, I managed to clean my room and finally stored away all the review materials I had. More less, I accumulated 15 kgs of review materials (test papers, bullets, hand outs) over the last 4 months and I do hope I won’t have to see them and study them all over again, if you get what I mean.

Readings for the day!

L-R: Once Again to Zelda: The Stories Behind Literature’s Most Intriguing Dedications by Marlene Wagman-Geller, Vanity Fair September 2010 featuring Lady Gaga and A Clash of Kings (Book 2 of the Song of Ice and Fire saga) by George R.R Martin.

  Papple surprised me yesterday with this book as a New Year’s gift and I ended up throwing fistbumps in public while walking along Shangri-La because I felt so… YAY! ♥ Read it first thing in the morning and I’m hooked already! I’m excited for what’s going to happen for the factions battling it out for the Iron Throne. I can’t control my giddiness since there are already interactions between Arya and Gendry and I ship them!

*rolls happily*

Read The Sandman: Seasons of Mist again while taking a break from A Clash of Kings. This was one of Papple’s Christmas gifts for me (refer to previous pictures) and it’ s one of the more interesting story arcs in the graphic novel series.

It begins with the Morpheus, the Sandman and Lord of Dreams, journeying into Hell in order to forgive a woman he condemned nearly ten thousand years ago. Things quickly become complicated, however, when Lucifer decides to resign as king of Hell, and leaves the Sandman with the key to his kingdom. As the story progresses, the Sandman finds himself debating what to do with an empty Hell, as well as contemplating what it would mean to forgive the woman he condemned.

I rather liked the potrayal of Lucifer here. Makes me wonder if I should start another collection of graphic novels starting with his series Lucifer by Vertigo.

Still debating whether I should get Fables or some one shot graphic novels in the near future once I completed my Sandman Collection.

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Norwegian Wood

The book is my second Murakami book and my first Murakami novel and it was a surprisingly good read. It mainly deals about love and mental illness but it also has the 3 Ss which I think is usually found in most good novels I’ve read: sex, suicide and sadness.

I think it’s strange but I have to say it, the story was overwhelmingly sad for me but it was also one of the best things about it. It was a kind of sadness that was cold and distant, which was also evident in Toru’s nostalgic narrative (the novel is told in Toru’s POV). The story is very character driven: each character has sadness that stems out from their loneliness and as the story progresses, they (Toru, Naoko, Midori and Reiko) try (yet unsuccessfully) to reach out to others. It is a love story essentially but it’s not even romantic. But reading it made me think of the question: “when does love become a responsibility?”

The novel also explores the sense of loss (which I think grounds this on reality) where each character finds that relationships (friendship, romantic, familial) end up being complicated by personal limitations, unrealistic expectations, unacknowledged suffering and circumstances surrounding those involved.

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A conversation between Midori and Toru has not left me since.

“Do you think you weren’t loved enough?” She tilted her head and looked at me. Then she gave a sharp, little nod. “Somewhere between ‘not enough’ and ‘not at all.’ I was always hungry for love. Just once, I wanted to know what it was like to get my fill of it – to be fed so much love I couldn’t take it anymore. Just once. But they never gave that to me. Never, not once. If I tried to cuddle up and beg for something they’d just shove me away and yell at me. ‘No! That costs too much!’ It’s all I ever heard. So I made up my mind I was going to find someone who would love me unconditionally three hundred and sixty-five days of a year. I was still in elementary school at the time – fifth or sixth grade – but I made up my mind once and for all.”

“Wow,” I said. “And did your search pay off?”

“That’s the hard part,” said Midori. She watched the rising smoke for a while, thinking. “I guess I’ve been waiting so long I’m looking for perfection. That makes it tough.”

“Waiting for the perfect love?”

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