Every Day by David Levithan: A Book Review

every-day-coverThe concept of the story is what I had thought of before.  How if you were given a chance , or you had this special ability or power to transfer into  a body of a certain person just to know how it feels like to be in that body as well as  to understand the life  that person has? .  ( You may come up with the  idea that this situation is sorta  parasitical entity in paranormal psychology or a Dybbuk in Jewish mythology.)  What a bizarre thought! But just the heck of  fun, just in a day or for good , whose that  person would you like to possess and why? Whee, I can read your mind!

The question above is what the concept of the story is all about.  A as in A, with capital A, is a man who  has never had this permanent body is like a soul  which  transfers from one body of a different person , of  different gender to another  since he was born. The drama turns when he   has an awakening moment in a day with   Rhiannon, the woman  he   falls for out of the blue,  possessing  the body of her boyfriend, Justin. Thereby, Rhiannon has intimate relationship with A  when she finds out his  unimaginable situation. However,  this fantasy will test the mettle of their relationship. That is! A very outlandish story !

In the beginning, I read it  giddily like a teenager back in my high-school life when I was fond of reading pocketbooks or chit lits. (If you are Filipino born in the 90’s , I guess you get what I meant to say. ^^) I enjoyed every page   written with beautifully lyrical and poetic lines as if I was just reading a romantic poem. However, this   impact vanished  as the story centers around the two main characters trying to understand  and get connected to each other  with different aspects of life: one lives  in the reality while the other one in a fantasy. Correspondingly, I lost that romantic feeling  taken that I am turning to my 30’s next year. Hmp! In short, in Filipino, hindi na ako naiinog.( I  was no longer giddy.)  What a spoiling plot! Nevertheless, I liked its ending as what I had predicted: It is more realistic to let someone  go than let  a situation that never clings to the reality unless such thing really exists.

On the other hand, the book is OK because it   has good intentions. It teaches us  two moral lessons.

First,  since we are all different beholders having no ideas of what  we see in the world, notably of understanding the people around us, we should not be judgmental  and prejudiced toward them. It is like what  the cliché  goes that we can understand a person if we were in his/ her shoes.

Through A, being described as an empty man, having no permanent body and a family he can live with, we learn to understand  those different kinds of people he takes  possession of , such as of  a blind girl, a suicidal teen-ager, an obese man, a slut, a mean woman, a depressed girl, an actor with a perfect life, et al . At the end, we come to ourselves that there is a reason why life should go on.

Second, after reading it, it also occurred to me   that in the context of psychology, if you had this bizarre thought of transferring to  a different body,  you may  not be  completely satisfied  in a sense that physically, you want to have a beautiful body , so that you could have a good-looking boyfriend or girlfriend; in a sense that  emotionally, you want to fill up that empty feeling; in a sense that socially, you want to have self-belongingness; in a sense that mentally or intellectually, you want to be smart or howsoever ; and many , many reasons  more.

In the story, apparently, the only thing A  wants is to be as emotionally  complete and normal as people.

Therefore, the novel  has got to deal with what is reality and with what is fantasy.  Not that I know of! @_@

Just for the heck of fun, I wish I were in the  body of the famous Filipino fashion designer, Francis Libiran, or of  the best-selling author and notorious atheist, Sam Harris. Wheeee! ^_____^

Rating: 2/ 5 stars ( It’s ok. )

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Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx: A Book Review

brokeback“There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can’t fix it you’ve got to stand it.”

Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain

What would be the differences had I not seen its movie adaptation yet; rather, I had read its book first, or vice versa?

Prior to the movie, I would have immersed myself in the pure, vivid prose of Annie Proulx, not having the slightest idea of the fact that the two rough-mannered cowboys living in a not-open-gay countryside will have sexual and intimate relationship. Then, at the end, I would have thrown it into the air and sworn blue murder, for the must-have-been happy ending will end up as a tragedy. In other case, since I have been aware of its homosexual immortality among the international confederation as well as seen it several times, I still found it the same. In fact, the love scenes are more febrile in my imagination although I had expected something flamer. A. Proulx spiced it up! However, the content of the book is not as detailed as in the movie. But I don’t give a damn on it. ^^

“I wish I knew how to quit you.”

Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain

Annie Proulx limns not only the highlighting love story between Ennis and Jack but also the typical rural life of cowboys in a countryside in Wyoming as well as the culturally bigoted meme of homosexuality in the said place. The story may bespeak that the homosexuality is incorruptible and incorrigible in rustic places no matter how rough culture is. ^^

So far, it is second to the A Home at the End of  the World  by Michael Cunningham  ( 5 stars ) as one of best “pink ” novels I have ever read. ^^

michael

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )

Happy Na, Gay Pa by Danton Remoto : A Book Review

danton remotoIt is the newly-launched book written by Danton Remoto, one of the staunchly leading LGBT advocates in the Philippines.

Ever since,  I have always been watching   out for his new books to be published . I know he has something newer, wittier , and wackier  he will share with, particularly something  he wants to educate about among narrow-minded people- not to mention the Church and “moralist” politicians.

As usual, his new book has something to do with what is the real life of the LGBT community.  But there is something   new about the book. At this time, it is written with his Filipino prose. At my first glimpse of it, I thought it was  inferior to his other  award-winning books such as Gaydar,  and Bright, Catholic- and Gay which I gave  5  stars and 4 stars respectively.  Besides, I did not like its book cover; it is too jejune in appearance, appealing  only to   young readers. There  may be a pretext in it which  Danton Remoto , along with his publisher , must have intended.

Most of his  essays are autobiographical , have something to do with his life as a student, the time when he was still in the coffin, err closet as he put it. He wrote how he had a hard time coming out in the open to his family, particularly to his father who was fond of him. But it turned out to be  just the other way around; he was accepted as whoever he was as how he is cordially accepted by his circles of friends. Also, he wrote about his past boyfriends and how he managed to make his relationship with them long-lasting. But what I liked about him is his being a prodigious son, an epitome of a smart gay who can be as promising as men and women in society. In fact, he wrote these essays ingeniuosly and in fashion with the taste of the young readers. In other words, he did not forget to blend his prose with the napapanahong  ( timely )  pop culture. That is why I liked it and now I understood why the book cover seems to be  out of mode for me.

Other half of his essays   deals with the  common issues about gays such as how they are discriminated by society, what precautions  they should do when meeting other guys,  how they are asked derogatory   questions and above all what it is like to be gay in 30’s and 40’s  , elaborated by his own experiences .  He also included   a few essays about the typical  gay hobbies  such as reading men’s magazines and watching  beauty contests.  Furthermore, he discussed some literary writers whose works reflected in their being closet gays. ( So the famous writer  Ernest Hemmingway ‘s sexual orientation turned out to be true after all. ) All the rage to each essay is the related-to-the topic pictures inserted at the end of his essays .

As a matter of fact, I have read some  of the aforesaid essays  from his previous books and newspapers articles. He just edited  and translated some  into Filipino prose. Since he is a certified critically acclaimed writer, no doubt he is still good at writing Filipino essays.

I have noticed that when Danton Remoto publishes a newly  gay-themed book, he includes the articles which have been  featured in his previous books. So for an avid reader like me, I  cannot deny the fact that it let me down to some extent. Without his witty style, especially he wrote them in Filipino, I would not have enjoyed it. Thus, I am telling you, if you are gay who tends to cringe at its  book cover and you do not feel its font size , or you  have been an avid fan of his  that you are not used to its new book transformation, forget it. Buy and include it on your book collections, and most importantly , share it with your friends regardless of their sex and religion. This is what Dan Remoto  has always intended to do ever since he realized that he has what it takes to be a knight for the LGBT community. What are you waiting for? Get on with it! The more the merrier as  the title puts it, “ Happy na, Gay ka Pa.”

Congratulations on your  another new book, Professor Danton Remoto.

By the way, when are you going to finish your first novel? As far as I know  , you were supposed to publish it in March this year.  I cannot wait to read it soon.

The book  is 175 pesos and  available at all National Book Store branches nationwide.

Enjoy reading! ^^

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )

Twinkle Twinkle by Kaori Ekuni: A Book Review

twinkleMahal ko o Mahal ako? ( I Love or Loves me?)To make it grammatically clear, it means the man I love or someone who loves me? ) This is the title of the love song by our very own Filipino singer, KC Tandingan, which is now  popular in our country. According to the song, a woman has love affairs with two men. At the end , she has to choose between them: the man she loves or the man who loves her but she does not love. The story has complete resemblance to this book Twinkle, Twinkle. The only difference is that it is homosexual Mitsuki, who is in conflict with two personas: Shoko, alcoholic whom he married because of the pressure his parents foisted upon.; and Kono, his secret long-time boyfriend. Then, Mitsuki and Shoko will live together under one roof without making love. They will just live for the sake of companion love, but at the end, Mitsuki has to choose. ..

I could feel in the story the self-restraint of each character as though a lump in my throat blocked my desire to let off steam . Mitsuki is so understanding. He still considers Shoko’s feelings, whereas she can feel that he loves his boyfriend Kono more than her. I bet it is the conservative tradition that determines the personality of the characters. Mitsuki considers his parents’ and Shoko’s family values as well as prejudice against homosexuality. It is a matter of enduring love after all. So, such restricted emotional expression punches in my chest.

This is now my second Japanese novel, and reading another ones strikes my fancy more because I notice that Japanese novels- although I have not read Haruki Murakami’s completely yet, and I am now reading his first novel- seem to bear all the hallmarks of superficiality, gentleness, and idiosyncrasies. So I cannot brush the idea aside that Japanese literature has one distinction. Sooner or later I will get the wind of it.

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )

Bright, Catholic–and Gay by Danton Remoto: A Book Review

IMG_20130107_230230Bright, Catholic- and Gay is   the title of one of Danton Remoto’s essays he compiled  in this book. It aptly describes  all the themes  of his essays . As a matter of fact,the essay is about Raymond Alikpala ,  the author of the controversial book Of God and Men: A Life in the Closet published by Maverick House in 2012 . Its original title was God Loves Bakla( Bakla means gay) . Danton Remoto reviewed the book  that  Alikpala is such a bright  person   and on  how he entered a  Jesuit seminary until he was expelled after  his homosexual activity was found out. But there is  a better reason why , among the articles Remoto compiled in this book, he chose Bright, Catholic- and Gay as the title .  If you dissect the title holistically,  Bright  could refer to the fact that everyone , along with gays, could be colorful  in any aspects. Catholic  may  stand for  the prelate  perception about homosexuality. The Dash (-) before the word gay as you learned from English Writing Composition is also used to indicate a short pause ; Danton Remoto  wants to imply that he as the representative of the confederation still braves out of  getting   the word  “gay” in edgewise as part of society as what he has been advocating  since LADLAD , an LGBT non-organization, was founded, or since the time when he  shattered the Philippine society under its delusional teachings  with his gay literature.

As a rule  being  an LGBT  rights advocate , most of Danton Remoto’s essays are latently  couched in  social prejudice against homosexuality, how the confederation is still the subject of discrimination because of  “wrong education”. One of them is on how LADLAD party list then was declared a” nuisance candidate” by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), labeling  its members “abnormal” and “immoral”. Another one is on  how smart-Alec politicians and critics still think of homosexuality as a “mental disorder”. Poor them! They still have stuck in a time warp like the troglodytes.  By the same token, who can’t forget Jan-jan( not his real name) , the Cebuano  homosexual who had been the butt of jokes and jeers  because of the  video that went viral around the social media a few years ago? The video was about the  irresponsible doctors  and nurses who recorded- for fun  or  probably for gay joke-the perfume canister they removed from Jan-jan’s rectum .  Tsk tsk tsk As Danton Remoto put it, they are  ones who are  sick.

Danton Remoto also wrote  that the confederation has the  normal ability as do men and women.  If I put it on my own word, Remoto  seemingly  wants to tell us that  society would not be studded with stars and diamonds without them. Gays could stand out in literature. They could be competent in any fields such as in education, information technology, law, entertainment, and even in building a family. Try to exterminate them on the face of the earth, your deep concerns about evil will still remain.  Gee! Life could be like in the Dark Ages.

One of the big impediment to homosexual freedom in society is the ridiculous  , illogical, ironic, and paradoxical teachings of the church. Danton Remoto discussed that the church restraints a homosexual from its right to freedom of expression, bourn upon the idea that being gay is a sin. You go to hell  if you are gay. To cap it all off   is the insistence that  it is ok to be homosexual unless he does not engage in a homosexual activity including same-sex marriage!  Wake up, snotty people!

In effect, this book is just a compilation of some of well-selected Danton Remoto’s essays and articles after his Gaydar. All the essays are worth reading and interesting since they primarily  deals with the same concept- homosexuality in the Philippines. And of course I can relate to  the topics  if it weren’t Danton Remoto’s impressive and witty writing styles , typical of a gay writer who uses a gay lingo.

Another thing why I liked about this book is its paperback picture  of  two Davids holding hands with their wings flapping. In fact, I would blush when I brought it out on the bus to work. It could raise the homophobic   passengers’ brows, for they are malicious and ignorant to boot. Fudge! I am a product of the social pressure.

Danton Remoto will go down in the Philippine history and literature – actually he  has  done it- as one of the contemporary writers whose  revolutionary vision  is to make a big difference in society. He  has been exerting a  lot of effort to completely  break the horrendous  illusions of the Philippines about homosexuality by means  of using his godsend writing talent. And for whom I am thankful  because if the Universe had not let him be brought to the world, society would  remain in the darkness.

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )

Gaydar by Danton Remoto: A Book Review

gaydarThe word   GAYDAR  is the blend  of “gay” and “radar”. Radar as  you   learned from your  science book  is a scientific method of finding position of things such as missiles   by sending out radio waves.  In other words, figuratively speaking, GAYDAR as defined in the book  is  the innate ability to spot another gay man no matter how hard he tries to hide his being gay. In this way, a gaydar associating with straight-acting men or paminta in Filipino after  drawing off his radio waves will  break the news under his breath  that  a very Adonis  man women slobber over   turns out to be  part of  the confederation. Yaaayy!

My  university  gay friend   introduced me to Danton Remoto’s Ladlad : An Anthology of Philippine Gay Writing.   The book is a collection of  different stories and poems written by different gay writers including his own oeuvres. In fact, some were written  in Filipino. Most of the articles are erotic in language, so  my reaction then since it was my first time to read such genre was some kinda prudish  pursing my lips and arching my brows. I thought that reading such  book is balderdash;  it’s raunchy. So I did not like reading it much, especially I had no any ideas of his literary styles.  But over time, I realized why Remoto , along with his award-winning  co-author J. Neil C. Garcia, published  such LAMBDA-Literary- Award-winning piece . Danton Remoto then was an active LGBT advocate.  Thus, I had a rude awakening as though I had  come out of my made-in-narra  closet.

This  is a compilation  of  Danton Remoto’s  personal essays which were published in  The Philippine Star  from 1997 and 1999. He wrote about his  growing up  as a student abroad , with his family  and friends , and  his advocacy for the LGBT community. In effect,  all of his essays are seethed in the same theme: life of being  a gay in the Philippines.  Also, he  even wrote  about the  dilemmas   such as the political circus and irresponsible journalism with which he had faced  when he was still an advocate of LGBT.

I appreciated Danton Remoto’s writing styles now. As one of his commentators  put before, he writes with substance. Most of his articles cling to reality, which knock the day light  out of an idealistic reader, notably the clerics for an example.  He associates his ideas with the social issues  in metaphorical forms-typical of  Philippine writing. You can relate to what he is trying to drive at such as mentioning some  Philippine culture to justify his   conspicuous advocacy. In addition, I am envious of   his beautiful prose and clarity of writing.  He really knows his stuff which   must have given   him a credible name  in the modern Philippine literature.

Some writers are like crusaders . They  put their  talent for writing  , although  such skill can be learned, to good  use ,  especially to  making a big difference in society. For instance, black writers   in the past just the likes of Harriet Beecher Stowe,  Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, not to mention one of my favorite contemporary writers, Toni Morison  , et al used their writing skills as their  weapons to express their suppressible  and dormant desires to  revolt against the culture of  racial  discrimination.  In terms of  crusade against putrid perception about homosexuality, the only one popped into my mind was Oscar Wilde. Alas, he ended up in jail, for the society at that time was too vast to engulf him.  As the history serves and  since I have not been familiar with  famous Philippine writers yet, Danton Remoto , along with J. Neil C. Garcia , is the only openly gay writer who has the audacity  to do so  using his  flamboyantly decorated  saber of writing.

A salute to you, Professor Danton Remoto! ^^

Rating : 5/ 5 stars

Where the Boys Are: Urban Gay Erotica by Richard Labonté (Editor) and Erastes ( Author): A Book Review

Warning: This review contains unpleasant  or offensive languages which may not be suitable for readers borne upon with   “ a-la -madre-and -padre attitude” . In short, “hypocrisy ”.  It requires   “parental guidance of our rational thinking”. In short, open your eyes , heart, and mind.

BOYS

The last erotica I  have read  so far , aside  from  the  X-rated  articles in magazines and newspapers,  is Ladlad : An Anthology  of Philippine Gay Writing  by Danton Remoto and J. Neil  C. Garcia . (Yes, I read such genre.  I am mentally horny. It  is  a natural  feeling among  confederated readers like me. Do not be priggish and prudish. ( laughs ) ) Both critically acclaimed Filipino writers   depicted the life of   queers in the Philippines.  So, the book is   audaciously steeped in homosexual experiences of the open and closet gays and became a best-seller among   the LGBT community. Of course, sacerdotal readers made a scene by taking  a pot at it.

 Where the Boys Are by Richard Labonte bears complete resemblance to Ladlad. (By the way, Ladlad is a Filipino word which means “coming out”.) Unlike in Ladlad  which focuses on gays in general situation, it deals  primarily with gay experiences in  cities. In my own technical terms, “identity peregrination”. Most of the gay characters are searching their real selves.

Richard  Labonté compiled  14 short stories  of  the different  writers who may be  most of them belong to the same confederation. So let me say something on each of them. Kinda spoiler. ( wink! )

Live from  New York by Rachel Kramer Bussel  ( 4 stars )

 Its introduction blew my mind as did a prudish priest  and nun signing a cross.

“ I didn’t expect to get my cock sucked on my first night in New York City, but may be I should have…”

Dear me padre and madre ! A dirty prose it sounds , but  do not be prejudiced. Both man and woman do such thing too. As a matter of fact, because of this untoward incident, the main character found out in the city what persona he has been searching for.

 Unable to Hold Back by Kemble Scott ( 3 stars )

 Raphne , the  gay protagonist,  met  a man his friend monickered VACNE, stands for vagina and  acne.  As a matter of fact, Raphne did not know that he  is gay. He deluded himself into the fact  that he  is a straight guy. It just so happened that he met VACNE in a train.

 My Evil Twin  by Sam J. Miller ( 3 stars )

 “I’m not   leaving this city until I get  a blow job. “

 A story about Solomon and Simon. Solomon has the “evil twin”, so Simon , in a metaphorical way, will exorcise that evil out of his soul.

 One of the Guys by  Jameson Currier ( 4 stars )

 Jonathan, the open gay protagonist, finds  his life in orgies .

 Tiny Golden Kernel by Lee Houck ( 3 stars )

 It’s a question of Nurture vs. Nature.

 Taming the Trees by Jeff Mann ( 3 stars )

 If you are green-minded, you might interpret that the title could be phallic in nature. As a matter of fact, a middle-aged professor, single and gay, living in a small mountain town, longs to make love with the loggers, let alone his favorite Hollywood actors, whom he fantasizes in his jerking off.

 Drug Colors by Erastes ( 3 stars )

 Some closet gays end up in a small world  where they could find themselves openly rather than in a big world where there should be social acceptance. Poor them!

 Other Residences, Other Neighborhoods by Douglas A. Martin ( 4 stars )

 A story about a voyeuristic gay

 Juniper House by Alana Noel Voth ( 2 stars )

 A closet gay sharing his skeleton in the closet with an autistic child at an institution. What is the relevance, Alan ?

 Wild Night  by Simon Sheppard ( 4 stars )

 Have you ever been to a city of horny ghosts?

I won’t forget the threnody  at the ending  :

 “I know,  I know . The struggle for queer liberation comes down to much more than a furtive blow job in the dark. Of course . And times change. New HIV have brought some of us , like lecherous Lazaruses, up from the brink of the grave and back down  on our knees…”

Half-Life  by Dale Chase ( 4 stars )

 A man who has never told his wife that he likes a man more than a woman.

 The Bird and the Bees by Alpha Martial  ( 2 stars )

 In a nutshell, it is all about sex.

 God Hates Techno by Zeke Mangold ( 3 stars )

 Sex in a city is better than in a country side.

 Local Fame by Ted Cornwell ( 3 stars )

 A conflict faced by a gay: fame or love

So, all the stories above are all about gay.

The common perception of “sacerdotal critics “ when they  hear such erotica is that it deals with pornography, completely similar , as they put it,  to x-files between a man and woman. (See? There is no difference. Not only man and woman can do such thing. )That the only purpose is to intensify a reader sexually until he or she becomes mentally and physiologically corrupt. Ridiculous!

But , Holy Moses!  padres  and madres! This book   is more sensible  than the ones you  are always reading.

This  book, along with Ladlad , is an  eye-opener, not that it is erotic and raunchy , so  you end up finding it disgusting , horrendous according to what your religion inculcates in you ,  but a book  geared to educate you what it is like to be a gay  and notably to encourage  gays who are still hiding in their closets.

Another thing I liked in this book is how the stories are couched in  beautiful prose- something  I am envious of, I think ,better than Fifty Shades of Grey. So, in the end, the book is  not that suppressible as some classic gay novels I have read.

Recently, the US Supreme Court upheld is ruling that the right to marriage is now lawfully applicable to the same-sex. If the writers ‘stories above were  intended to raise awareness of the LGBT rights, after many years of hyping up, well,  their  efforts have paid off. This book is no longer revolting like the plague. Someday, everyone will be used to reading such gay genre as they become used to gay culture. Drink to it, Richard  Labonté! ^^

Rating: 4/ 5 stars