Falling into the Manhole:A Memoir by John Jack G. Wigley: A Book Review

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A million thanks to my fellow teacher for this book. She decided to give it away to me as a gift since she saw how my eyes popped out of their sockets in excitement upon seeing it displayed on her book shelf. It was just as well that she read it already. I hope the people I am acquainted with will do the same way. (laughs)

This was one of the local books I promised myself to buy , no matter how hard up I was, when I  stumbled upon how the galaxy  of our contemporary local writers including the writers I consider part of the Super Novas of the Philippine literature such as F. Sionil Jose, Gilda Cordero – Fernando, Jessica Hagedorn, Miguel Syjuco, Lualhati Bautista, Ricky Lee, Bob Ong, Jessica Zafra ,Felisa Batacan, Genevive L. Asenjo, Merlinda Bobis, Danton Remoto,Bebang Siy, not to mention the promising ones : Genaro R. Gojo Cruz and Edgar Calabia  Samar, the apples of my eyes, turned out to be stellar, heavenly , and dazzling. Coming to this realization, I found its price  affordable and reasonable. However, I was between the lever of a teeter-totter whether it should be on my list since I could spend 220 pesos on the other books more famous than this, which writer I had never heard of. Sorry po, Professor Wigley. It just happened that I was not aware of your literary stardom.  Doggone it!  I must have been ambivalent about what local book I should have first read. I was surrounded by books I have never read yet, let alone that I was a “pooritang” reader unable to buy astronomical books, especially the best-sellers on the market. No wonder I was exhilarated by receiving this book as a gift.

John Jack G. Wigley’s memoir Falling into the Manhole is a collection of his how’s  before he became a successful  writer and professor , as to how he took to watching movies at movie theaters and was gorgonized  by  his mother’s being  die-hard Noranian ; how he was born and lived  the dilemma of being Amerasian ; how his family and he lived as nomads  moving from one house to different houses in a year ; how he became an avid fan of Madonna who was the instrument for understanding his sexual orientation; how he fell in love with his best friend- the story that I blinked my tears away because I know what it feels like; how he became a “butterfingered”  fast-food chain crew ; how he was proud to be Lea Salonga fan who was the reason why he fell into the manhole;  how he became a theatre actor and had the good chance to stage at CCP;  how he fell in love with Meryl Streep‘s acting style;  how he had the opportunity to go to America on tour and find his  American father, the missing link; how he became a teacher who can be a blooper despite that he is supposed to be superior and infallible;  how he survived Ondoy trauma; how he became one of the best and respected  UST professors; and finally,  how he took care of his mother passionately. All of his anecdotes have inspiring lessons you should learn.

Personally speaking, the book is intended for homosexuals and for those who are inspired to be a successful professor and writer. As a member of the confederation, I experienced to be an avid fan of beauty pageants. In fact, although I didn’t live in the 1980’s, I want to blow my horn  and beat others to it that I know how Chat Silayan  represented the prestigious pageant and presented herself gorgeously. Thanks to YouTube. Like him, I would also wait for its live telecast and take notes of the petite delegates in  the  semifinals.  In fact, I could almost memorize all the yearly winners by heart. It was one of my passionate hobbies in my teen-age life.( laughs)

His memoir reminded me of children’s book writer Genaro Gojo Cruz‘s Connecting the Dots because both their memoirs bear little resemblance to how they became successful in life. Like Wigley, Genaro also persevered to get out of poverty. He  was so determined not to get dumped  by  his abject miseries in life. In fact, both writers lived in a broken family with this desire to be complete by  reminiscing of their fathers . Both of their memoirs also suggest their intellectual humility; they must never imply that  they are gifted writers. Genaro admits that he never excelled in school whereas Wigley knows his  limitation upon academic excellence.

Laying it aside with the other books on my reading table,my spirit that has been bogged down in muddy despair has been sloughed off. I have learned now  how to be a writer more,  how humanity works, and how I should  love  and be passionate about my work as a teacher.Boo-ya!

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

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Makinang Makina by Genaro Gojo Cruz : A Book Review

When I see an antique sewing machine, the only idea  that reminds me of is late great-grandmother,  Lilang Tisay .She used to be our neighbor when  we still lived  in a countryside. Every afternoon, I  would  always visit her in their palatial leaning-to watching her sew some cloth.(I didn’t know what  she was doing then. She may have  made some rags.) But I was mesmerized  by her adeptness at  operating that noisy machine. I even wondered whether she could be impaled with the needle or not  if she didn’t focus on it.As a matter of fact, that machine became more historical  when she made me a doll out of the cloth leavings  because my mother could not bring herself to buy me one. That was the first doll I had ever played,  unaware of my sexual orientation. I tend to smile to myself whenever I remember this. I wonder  how I lost that doll and whether her  family still keeps that machine.

Recently,  Genaro Gojo Cruz, the author of this book, won PBBY-Salanga Prize for this Filipino children story, Makinang Makina ( Brilliant Machine). The story is about a boy  who enjoys watching his mother sew with the sewing machine she has inherited from her mother’s  mother. He tends to be transfixed  by its antiquity . He also enjoys helping his mother by catching up with the thread spool  rolling off the floor  and sucking its edge to pass it through the eye of the needle. He  is even riveted on riding the machine’s floor like a horse. He is  sooo cute. 🙂

The most touching part of the story is when he asks his mother if he can be like her because he thinks of that  sewing is supposed to be for women’s job. His mother explains that a man who sews clothes is a sastre in Filipino. He can be! Sewing  does not bear on your sexuality.

The funny thing  is that  I had negative stereotype about the boy.While  reading it, I mistook him for  belonging to the confederation, an archaic expression used in the Philippines referring to homosexuals. In other words, I thought he was bakla ( gay) because he seems to be malamya ( clumsy)  in Genaro’s descriptions. In the Philippines, when  a boy is observed to be in that behavior , he is judged or predicted to be a queer  at his later age. So, usually, his father’s kumpare  advises  his father that he should be straightened up to prevent that homosexual tendency. Poo-bah! A form of ignorance some parents are still shrouded in.  But I was all wrong. I may have just been subjective. Hahaha  In the context of child psychology, he is at the stage of  exploring the world he finds magical. I bear witness to that 🙂

It’s now my 11th Genaro Gojo Cruz ‘s  children story  books. As usual, I am like a  rabid wolf , hot on Gojo Cruz’s heels. Hahaha I have been after :

  1. Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas
  2. Ang Malaking Kahon ng Sorpresa
  3. Pitong Angel
  4. Hello, Tatay!
  5. Ang Aking Pamilya
  6. Ang Bahaghari
  7. Maghapon Namin ni Nanay
  8. Malaking-Malaking Bahay
  9. Si Nanay Mining at ang Tatlong Kuting
  10. Ang Lumang Aparador ni Lola
  11. Ang Asul na Kariton
  12. Ang Kamisetang Dilaw
  13. May Pamilya na ring Mag-aaruga sa Akin
  14. Ang Sulatan
  15. Mga Laruang Papel
  16. May Sampung Pulang Langgam

So far,  I ‘m  glad to have  read his :

  1. Connect the Dots o Kung Paano Ko Kinulayan ang Aking Buhay ( YA)
  2. Ang Batang May Maraming Maraming Bahay
  3. Mahabang-Mahabang-Mahaba
  4. Ang Aking Photo Album
  5. Noong Nakaraang Taon
  6. Bunsoy
  7. Saling Pusa
  8. Anluwagi
  9. Tolits

I am not sure if the book is now available in book stores. I just happened to see this on the author’s FB post. I  was excited  then to search in the internet if it has free PDF. Fortunately, it does, but nothing beats  buying the book as one of your Genaro Gojo Cruz collections, and I will. 🙂

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

 

 

 

 

My Blog’s First Anniversary

12899698_10206279183280282_1556658901_nLet me go moonstruck today by imagining that I wanted to hit a peak of a mountain  on where I could crow  to the world that last  March 30 was my blog’s first anniversary.

“I’ve got my first anniversary!!!! anniversary!!!anniversary!! anniversary!!!”

“Yahoo!!! Yahoo!!! Yahoo!!! “

Then,I would jump in ecstasy unknowing that I might  be teetering on the edge of the  peak. Yay! I might break my neck.

Hahaha! What a goofy man I am!

If it had not been for my best friend’s rankling encouragement, it  would not have reached as long as this year. She had rubbed it in me to the point that I would hold her by the scruff of her neck, and retort,” I am a technologically ignoramus, duh!” But my best friend was so persistent, unflagging that  I stooped to her obdurate suggestion. In the end, I mustered up enough courage and confidence to break out of this irresistible urge. Thanks to my bosom friend!

So far, I have posted  147 articles. Then, my blog  has had more than  ten thousand views. Not that bad.I am deeply honored to be  visited by different readers.

Most of the pages liked are Ang Batang May Maraming Maraming Bahay by Genaro R. Gojo CruzStupid is Forevermore by Miriam Defensor Santiago Father Solo and Other Stories for Adults Only by Isagani R. Cruz,A Dwarf Launches a Little Ball : by Cho Se-Hui, and Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore

Recently, I have not yet posted any articles since February of this year. What a shame! I admit that I have been involved in the world of  hedonism and Epicurean. I did try to  get off the Ivory Tower  and  climbed a 167 -feet – above- sea-level  mountain somewhere in the Philippines. There, on the rocky peak,  I  had a breathtaking and spectacular view of the  other mountains, and  figuratively realized that  there are many ranges of mountains I have to climb more. Another reason is that I have been hooked on a new gadget I bought lately. I explored it until I got so stuck in it that I wasted a lot of time. But in the end, I want to be a Luddite after all. Reading is more interesting and productive. Nevertheless, I found out that there is another field that I want to get into-  photography. 🙂

In this April, I am now anxious to start reading more books however hectic my schedule is , and at the same time , I will review the books I have  backlogged. I hope to write my reviews of The Case of Easter by Lee Strobel which is supposed to be for last  Easter Day, Anne of Green Gables by L. M Montgomery, The Sea by John Banville, and The Man Who Could Not Kill Enough by Anne E. Schwartz, a story about American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Aside from my book reviews,  I also hope to share some short stories I have been trying to finish which are the reasons why I am now motivated to be back to the world of literature. Besides, my blog will not just deal with books but also with some social issues and lifestyles . Because after my experience in hiking, I have realized that there are some things in the world more than books that I should  write about.

The summer in the Philippine has come on, but my feeling  now  is just the like of those plants in spring; I am turning over  new leaves after my long hibernation,  and am now cheerful to sway myself in the air  that here I am,fresh,  full of spirit , interest, and hope.

Happy Reading to everyone! 🙂

 

Tolits by Genaro R. Gojo Cruz : A Book Review

tolitsI am a poor book detective, but I have a mission: to read all Genaro Gojo Cruz’s children’s books. I am afflicted by his “childhood-drama effect” after reading his YA, Connect the Dots o Kung Paano Ko Kinulayan ang Aking Buhay. However, I  do not buy his children’s books; I just have my own copy of his YA. As you know, I scrimp on books I want to treasure for the posterity since I dream of building my very own private library as big as half of my house. Besides, I regret spending 75 pesos because I can spend this amount on two or three books at Book Sale, the famous second-hand book store in the Philippines. I will just  get a book if I can no longer resist myself from it, a best-seller  hyped up by my friends on Goodreads.

Although Gojo Cruz is now one of my favorite children’s books writers, I still put him into a pigeonhole, on the list of the books I want to hoard and display in my library someday. So, what I am trying to rationalize  is that I drop into National Book Store branches   to check upon   some of his works and read them privately. (One time, I was even caught by a clerk burying myself in a book I held for  more than 30 minutes, so I was blocked by the guard at the exit area  to check my bag for SOP. Come on, guard, I was not born yesterday. SOP stands  for Security Operation Procedure. What an acronym! ) Luckily,  I have read seven of them  at different NBS branches such as:

  1. Ang Batang May Maraming Maraming Bahay
  2. Mahabang-Mahabang-Mahaba
  3. Ang Aking Photo Album
  4. Noong Nakaraang Taon
  5. Bunsoy
  6. Saling Pusa
  7. Anluwagi

Why do I appear so addicted to  reading Genaro Gojo Cruz’s  children’s  books?  You can understand me if you start reading his  first YA I mentioned above.  I noticed that   same reaction from another fan on Goodreads. In his YA, Genaro told  a story about  a boy, himself , who cried  deep inside for the poverty and being “incomplete”  in his life. So, through reading his children’s books, you can penetrate the depth of the story as if they have been drawn from deep experiences. You may not burst into tears , but you can feel  the burning  sensation  smarting in the deepest part of your heart that  you cannot even  pour it out. It just moves there around  without cease until they appease for goods.

The   only problem is his books are always out of stock. They may be best-sellers. If so, I am happy for Mr. Gojo Cruz.  His books are indeed worth reading. Thus, I have a hard time finding his other books. I drop into from one book store to another since there are three malls adjacent to another near  our place. Gee, you may now find  me idiosyncratic. Yes, I am a walking dead -bookworm zombie moving from one mall to another clockwise. I have no compunction for this. 🙂

After a fairly long time, tadaaa!!! I  have found one of his books, TOLITS. I found it at another NBS branch nearer our place where I had never thought of  dropping by , for  I do not like its ambiance.

Little did I  know that TOLITS is a match stick. I thought that it was a character of a young boy because we moniker   someone like that here in the Philippines. Besides, I have understood that  a young boy is also called TOLITS because he is scrawny. So, the story turns out to be about a scrawny   young boy match stick who is curious about why his parents and other relatives try to hide him underneath them once the window is opened by   big fingers.

The story is a little bit disturbing. Perhaps, I detached myself from the reality, or I am   more used to reading Gojo Cruz’s   books which reflect in the real mirror of life and  permeate  through my heart.  Besides, I have still been confounded   at how I can relate his story to other situation and even squeeze its  moral lesson out of me. Nevertheless, Gojo Cruz has proved his skills in being a   children’s raconteur  in this story once again. A match, full of sticks,  is enough to materialize his   imagination. Besides, I liked the fact that reading it did not give me any clues of what the story is all about.   As usual, his common trademark   at the end of the story is a tear-jerker although it is not that as emotionally penetrating as his Ang Batang May Maraming Maraming Bahay.  .

It is now my 8th Genaro Gojo Cruz’s children’s books. I am now  more  driven to hunt his other books. I am going to gallivant like  a madman  at another  National Book Store outlets if the need arises. So, my next missions are:

  1. Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas
  2. Ang Malaking Kahon ng Sorpresa
  3. Pitong Angel
  4. Hello, Tatay!
  5. Ang Aking Pamilya
  6. Ang Bahaghari
  7. Maghapon Namin ni Nanay
  8. Malaking-Malaking Bahay
  9. Si Nanay Mining at ang Tatlong Kuting
  10. Ang Lumang Aparador ni Lola
  11. Ang Asul na Kariton
  12. Ang Kamisetang Dilaw

 And his  newest  ones: Pwede Na Ba Akong Mag-alaga ng Kuting?  which was published last year and Gaano Ba Kalayo ang Paaralan? which he launched last Saturday at SM North EDSA. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend  his launching and book signing  because it was too late when I found it out on his Facebook status. Besides, my copy of his YA was not with me.

I admit that after reading TOLITS, I have now this desire to buy all Gojo Cruz’s books I have read already. I should not just  read them. I want to share them with my younger sister and young nephews and nieces and keep them for the posterity. (sighs) I wish I did not have to   scrimp and save for  books that make my mouth water whenever I see and touch them at NBS.

Book Title: TOLITS:  

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

Man in the Dark by Paul Auster: A Book Review

3136288It is weird that when I see Paul Auster’s works included on the list of best novels of all time according to a magazine site, I have the compelling hunch that they are nifty reads.Also, when I see his images on Google, his physical aura of literary skills , his deep stare at the camera tends to pierce me as if everything stops moving just like the two of us in a motionless world. It is as though staring back at him renders me powerless, frozen in awe. Thereby, I start having been borne upon the idea that whenever I spot his books heaped on a mountain of books, there is a feeling that the author is a sacred cow to whom every book vulture should pay homage. And me? I am wildly and outrageously glad to jump at them as if I should kowtow to them even if all book vultures milling around the place cringe at my losing sense of decorum. What do they know? They may be in the dark that the books I long to gorge myself on are freshly nutritious. How do I know? They may not know that I have wolfed on one of his works- Timbuktu. ( The title has nothing to do with the title of my blog.) The book gave me the appetite that Auster is a gifted writer. There is something in his style that left a good aftertaste in my mouth then. So, no need to wonder why perhaps I am one of those book vultures who bear that desire to scavenger on his other works.

In his Timbuktu, the first thing I noticed was his light sentence structure- very well-written and prosy. At the same time, the concept of the story is philosophically interesting. I apologize for the spoiler. Timbuktu is a dog who has deeply intimate relationship with a hard-pressed, terminally-ill writer. At the end , I assure that you will find it heart- breaking . Alas, I never got the chance to write my review of it ; at that time , I still was not active on Goodreads and was ignorant of blogging. You may find the story common, for you have seen it in movies or TV dramas, but you will be amazed at what I call ‘ Auster’s simply brilliant work’. If you have not started reading his other works yet, I believe that Timbuktu is the springboard for discovering his talent. Go for it!

Now I have given a try at his Man in the Dark. I was a little astonished to find out that his writing style in this novel bears complete resemblance to his Timbuktu. I do not have the foggiest idea if his other works do likewise. Here I felt the lightness of his sentence structures, how he must choose the right words, phrases, or sentence structures ditto. So I enjoyed reading the novel without cease, without putting it aside if there were odds and ends I had to futz around first. When I was done with them, I would throw myself into it forgetting the world I was in. No wonder I did finish it all at once given the fact that it only consists of 180 pages.

Concept of the story:
August Brill is a seventy-two-year-old widower. He recovers from a car accident at his daughter’s house in Vermont. To kill time, he watches films which he criticizes since he is a retired book critic. He does it with his granddaughter who has the same interest. When he cannot sleep, he lies in bed in the dark staring into the ceiling and trying to tell himself stories. At the same time, in doing so, he cannot remember his wife and the heinous murder of his granddaughter’s boyfriend, Titus.

I may be familiar with the setting that there is “a minor story in the story”, but for me, I do not look at that perspective; rather, I find the essence of the story mind-boggling. For instance, what is the relevance to the dystopian settings that the World Trade did not fall apart, that the U.S did not fight with Iran, instead the 2000 election results caused secession, that the state after state pulled away from the union and a bloody civil war broke out? I mused over this essence, on the way to work by bus, during my 10-minute break in school, or even during my processing inside a john. That is why it took me a few days to review it. Unfortunately, I was at my wits’ ends. Sorry, folks, I even have my hands full. Maybe you could help me squeeze it out of me. You may claim it not to be a brain surgery at all. ^^ Anyway, I may come to that literary epiphany sometime in the future. For this reason, therefore, Auster injected this enigmatic idea into this story that only he could expound what those ideas in question mean all about. Indeed, he is remarkable. I wish I had attended his launching this book ( Man in the Dark ) if I were American. In a pig’s eye!

Given that I found “the minor story” somewhat bothering, I could not divert my emotional attention from the main character’s role which may be the crucial part of the story. In that part, I immersed myself , feeling my tears welling up in the cups of my eyes, reminding me of two people whom I deeply love: my mother who already departed the world and my father, a widower too, whom I have been cold with. Likewise, in the end, it is all about life, life, life as famous writer Ethan Hawthorne’s sister Rose Hawthorne put it, “ As the weird world rolls on.”

Now I have devoured two of Auster’s books although I am still assimilating their substance thoroughly. When I visit the heap of books in the mountain, I will not hesitate to scrounge on his other works, notably The Book of Illusions and The New York Trilogy. I can’t wait for them! ^^

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

paul
My own paperback copy  published by Picador ^^

Si Janus Silang at ang Labanang Manananggal-Mambabarang ( Si Janus Silang # 2 ) by Edgar Calabia Samar: A Book Review

janus-silang-book-2Edgar Calabia Samar won the 34th Philippine National Book Awards  in 2015 for his book one , Si Janus Silang at ang Tiyanak ng Tabon , which I  lavished  with 5 stars, the highest rating on Goodreads.  If he is given another chance to be nominated for this year, I am pretty sure that he will gain the back-to-back victory. (Ang taray! ) If I had  a reputed name in the Philippine literature, I would  beat the drum for him. Or if I were one of the judges, I would campaign or lobby my fellow judges above-board for him to win. Just it is magically and terrifically beautiful! Mr. Samar is incredible!  Believe you me!

I did not expect this book two to be better than the book one. It is deeper, stuffier, and more creative- the abnormally mitosis product of his wild imagination. Besides, he galvanized all the neurons inside my body; I have found in this one how skilled in writing such a story Mr. Samar is. Marvelous! First, he mixes his story with the contemporary issues which every young adult  can relate to like the super typhoon Yolanda that killed thousands of people. Timely and relevant.That is why   he mentions on the first pages of his book that some situations were based on real life. Second, as usual, his trademark for using some characters based on Philippine folklores and myths. So if you are one of those students bored with studying Philippine literature, you might brush up on it again. Cool! Even I did take a fancy for it; I have learned  the lessons I had never learned by heart in school.

On the other hand, since it is now my book two, I have pretty noticed  Mr. Samar’s style of settings and conflicts and resolution. The pace of the story goes from the part that there is a mixture of suspense, thrill and awe to the heart-breaking part where the characters, which he must have predicted that his audience will be attached to, should sacrifice to die .The impact? It happened to me! I was totally devastated and annoyed at the author; then, I peevishly muttered under  my breath why he always intends to do so. Likewise, although I can guess some inconspicuous   inconsistencies, he may have intended to make the supporting character of Mang Joey, the leading  bagani, appear to be  foolishl. A bagani who is expected to be omnipotent turns out to be a pipsqueak. Well, as a rule, this kind of character is banal in novels. Thus, I cannot blot out of my mind the idea that Mr. Samar may have come to the point that he ran out of ideas ,unknowing how to get off the hook.  Just I am analyzing ,and I am now paralyzed as what the cliché goes!

The good thing is that the story is a very complicated case. Dude, how did Mr. Samar connect all the scenarios from the book one with the book two? The book one, on the one hand, is the revelation that there are mythical Philippine creatures beyond our imagination-creatures I had never heard of unless you know a lot of Philippine literature. So some words are so “nakakadugo ng ilong”. The book two, on the other hand, is like opening a Pandora’s box where the other covey of mythical creatures clambers out until they are on the loose. The upshot of it is that you had better find a safe hideout protected with sanyang. Gee, otherwise, it is going to be like a walking-dead scene. Besides, it is a challenge for a writer to create anothe scenarios which should be relevant to the book one. In this case, Mr. Samar is indeed creative and genius. Ikaw na!

One of the things I had not been able to do as a voracious reader is reading a book series just the like of Harry Potter by J.K Rowling and Lord of the Ring by J. L Tolkien … During that time, I still was not active on Goodreads. Besides, if I like to read them , although I appear to be a late reader, I still cannot afford them; they can still percolate my purses. Yay! Nevertheless, there is one thing I will for sure follow up with: Si Janus Silang, a very Filipino fiction created by our very own writer Edgar Calabia Samar.

Good luck, Mr. Samar. I am now your avid  fan, so I am planning to read your other works.

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It’s amazing.)

Crossing the Water: Eighteen Months on an Island Working with Troubled Boys–A Teacher’s Memoir by Daniel Robb: A Book Review

1457748I have been teaching Koreans for seven years. There are times that I also teach non-native speakers from Asia and Africa. I have not taught my fellow Filipinos yet although I dream of it.

There is a big difference between teaching other foreign students and teaching my countrymen: It is a matter of cultural differences. When it comes to Korean educational system, Korean students, especially in these days, have academic competition. Their parents work their butts off to make sure that their parents can afford to send them through expensive academies and schools. In fact, it is a quite common thing to do that they are supported in school overseas. In other words, what all students are supposed to do is to focus on their studies while their parents are away, busy with their jobs. Consequently, based on my observation, students tend to experience psychological and physiological effects. Physiologically, they are always tired and sleepy during class because they always stay up very late , busy  pulling an all-nighter. Also, some of them tend to have short attention span. Meaning to say, they can easily lose patience under slow circumstances. I have learned that students, or I guess my student then and  I coined it ourselves , “ Bali-bali syndrome”, an expression in Korean  which  means, “ Hurry up!”Psychologically, without offense, some I have taught have delinquent behavior. Some were rude to me. Some discriminated against me. Some played tricks on me. Some tended to get uppity because Korea is richer than my country. So, within seven years, I always have had a hard time teaching my students. Nevertheless, I have known it all along that it has been a big challenge for me until I have learned that the best way to build a harmonious student-teacher relationship is to adapt their culture. I found that this kind of approach somehow works.

Daniel Robb, the author of the book, is an English teacher too. He wrote in his memoir about his teaching life on an island which is Pekinese where juvenile delinquents are sent to be rectified. He, along with the other staff on the island, lived with many kinds of handfuls whose lives have been complicated. He taught them academics, particularly English which is his forte, carpentry, and other household chores. The big challenge for Mr. Robb was how to catch his students’ interest, for they were predisposed to anti-social behaviors.  How would you teach students who keep on cussing you? A student who is always making a fool of you? An arson student who can risk your life while you are asleep? A student who likes to get in high? A student who likes to play hit-and-run? A sexually  preoccupied student? Or even a psycho student? Fortunately, Mr. Robb somehow managed to handle them. He tried to be tough and empathic at the same time. However, there were times that  he could no longer put up with them alike. But the longer he stayed on the island, the more he had heuristic insights into his life. There ,on the island,  he learned to understand the students’ abject misery. Like them, Mr. Robb also grew without a father figure.

Given the book is powerful and deeply moving , I really liked it  because I can relate to his pedagogical dilemma. Also, there are some parts in which he tells about some literary and historical pieces such as on Marxism and Mao Zedong. Furthermore, it is perfectly well-written giving the indication that Mr. Robb is a gifted writer. However, I just had a hard time reading some dialogues with various English accents  since his students came from different regions of the U.S.

In the end, Mr. Robb and I , maybe even you when you read it , are in the same opinion that there are juvenile delinquents because of the familial problems which come into existence at home. After all, parents should be responsible for their kids.  They should love their kids because love is a powerful element created in the universe.

Although Mr. Robb quit teaching on the island, he still represents all  teachers who have the same passion for teaching regardless of money or environment elsewhere.

For  the same theme, I suggest that you read Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man. This memoir deals with Mr. McCourt’s teaching difficulties  in a vocational and melting-pot school.

 

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