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. )

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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. )

Hitchhiking to Heaven: An Autobiography. Lionel Blue by Lionel Blue: A Book Review

blueThe story is about Lionel Blue’s life as a gay Jewish rabbi, how he managed his desires to know God in various religions, specifically in Judaism regardless of his struggle for coming out in the open. To find himself, he hitchhiked to “heaven” in some European cities, particularly in Amsterdam- not in a literal meaning of the geographical place. I guess you would understand what heaven Lionel Blue meant when you have read its last two chapters.

Despite his inspiring story, admittedly, I did not enjoy it much. Ridiculously because I had expected that I would read something to do with his gay life, which was somehow he gave emphasis as well as how he managed to lead his religious life as a gay rabbi. Besides, I may not be as religious as other readers to be impressed. If I were so, I would not be hypocrite to give it 3 or 4 stars. ^^ Furthermore, I must be used to reading autobiographies / biographies or memoirs that are beautifully written and compelling just the like of the critically acclaimed ones I have read. Nevertheless, I felt in his writing styles how a gay he is indeed- full of hilarious prose.

On the other hand, I admired his humble audacity how he proved that homosexual life is not a big drawback to exercising one’s religious belief. In his autobiography, it was an abject misery that in 1960’s, homosexuality was considered a mental disease like the plague. Prejudice was borne down upon them and eventually led some to committing suicide. Fortunately, he survived this thought.

Exposed to some kinds of religions, Lionel Blue emphasized his favorite quote by the agnostic emperor Marcus Aurelius:

 “If you think there is God, then follow Him, if you think there is no God, become godlike yourself.”

The message is VERY simple. ^^

Rating: 1/ 5 stars ( I wish I liked it.)

Father Solo and Other Stories for Adults Only by Isagani R. Cruz: A Book Review

IMG_20130130_190559I was aware of the fact that Isagani R. Cruz is a writer and columnist of The Philippine Star , one of the leading newspapers publication in the Philippines. Most of his articles are on educational system. I even tried to read his articles ; thereafter, I had the idea that the writer is so well-educated  and respected that I might find him such  a book bore ( just the  like of  me)  and cannot stand finishing his pieces. I guess I have the conception that well-educated people are too serious as if when you talk to them, you might just be given a dead pan face. But wait, as I always put, there must be a method to someone’s madness like Isagani R.  Cruz ‘s .

Father Solo and other Short Stories by Isagani R. Cruz is a big revelation to me. But first of all, take note its  front cover says that this is For Adults only while its back cover, instead of a synopsis,  reiterates  that This book is meant to be read BY ADULTS  ONLY, and The Content is inappropriate for anyone under the age of 18.  Its publisher may  have been aware of the ridiculous fact that the author himself might be excommunicated by the holier-than-thou Church , or some moralistic NGO’s might take a pot shot at him  for its malicious contents. Well, I cannot blame the publisher and the author themselves.  I wish young readers knew how to keep at bay from this.

The book  turns out to be couched in satirical insinuation despite that the book covers suggest that this must be pregnant with obscene and vulgar language.  For instance, In Father Solothe center of the theme is about masturbation, but do not focus on that because after all, the story  reflects in the  hypocrisy of  priests on their pain-in-the-asshole preach that masturbators go to the eternal fire and brimstone. However, in reality as the story puts it, they practice it likewise. Furthermore,  the story illustrates the clandestine sequence of what happens to priest involved in sex scandals. They are not far different from the “trapong” politicians.

In Once Upon a Time Some Years From Now , on the other hand, infers  what a real president should be. Without direct allusion, the character Cory Fernandez as the first female president of the Philippines could be the persona of the late Mother of Democracy, Corazon Aquino. Isagani R. Cruz must   like her. Of course, it does not do away with the highlight of fetish obscenity: the respected President uses Portable Orgasm Machine or POM. I do not have the faintest idea of what this fetish stands for in the story.

Among the other short stories , Picked is  not quite raunchy , but it  satirically  limns politicians in high government seats who  are living in their own reality  that they can use the taxes paid by Filipinos in their hedonistic hobbies , bribery, and  other under-the-table  activities to  maintain their positions.  A corrupt politician can for sure cringe at it.

Although it’s my first  book of I. R. Cruz , I  admire   his  writing style . His style is conventionally professional, but flexible with modern ideas. With his style, he can put the pigment of his imagination into a classical masterpiece just the like of this book.  And this is   what I have always wanted to imitate, but mine for sure will be a pale imitation. (laughs)

Truly, had I not read it, I would not have known that I CAN write after all.

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It’s amazing.)

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. )

Queer by William S. Burroughs: A Book Review

william1A conservative  reader might ask his Goodreads friends , “ Is William Burroughs gay? “  as if Burrough  knows  how it feels  like  being  queer, an offensive  slang for homosexual. If he is, it  is neither here nor there because he  is able to depict the reality of the homosexual world , categorically,   the desire to establish an intimate relationship with a straight guy. So if you are gay, you might be able to empathize the situation of the protagonist. But if you are a straight  guy, you might end up realizing that not all gays are  “ lecherously fellatioes” by nature. They are not far  different from “coquettishly fellatrixes” .(laughs )

The book depicts the life of the queer ,  particularly how they get into an intimate relationship with the same sex. In the story, although not quite clear , the protagonist, Lee wants to build an intimate relationship with Allerton. The  story is not clear if he is a straight guy, but the story says that  he does not like to make  friends with a queer. Eventually, Lee and Allerton becomes friends since Lee is determined to get along with him. They spend time together in the same bed. Again , the story is not quite clear if they make love, for Allerton does not want Lee to keep on touching him. In effect, Lee has  secret sexual desire for Allerton; however, he has fear to get in on the act, for Allerton appears to be a straight guy.

If you are a queer, you may be able to empathize with the deeper side of Lee. But admit  it. This is the fact  to some extent  that queers’ real intention whenever they make friends with a guy is to build an intimate relationship. No wonder that the common perception of guys is  that queers are cock-suckers. (laughs) But not all queers have this  kind of   sexual behavior pattern. As a matter of fact, such queers are not far different from   coquettish women. People are not just used to this kind of  sexual human evolution.

In the Philippines, queers appear  to be divided into four  categories : they are closet gays, open gays, transvestites, and the transgendered.   Closet gays are known as peppermint or paminta in Filipino because they are bound to get pulverized to come out in the open.  Open gays appear to be  naïve , but still they are known for their effeminate mannerisms unlike transvestites and the transgendered  for their flamboyantly feministic fashion. The latter three kinds of gays  are likely to be socially accepted because they are more open to their self-identities (despite the fact that the atmosphere is not yet completely conducive. )However, peppermints have a hard time; consequently, they face different dilemmas.

It is my first William Burroughs’s novel. Whenever I thumbed  it through on  my list, I always wondered why its title is Queer since its paperback picture looks immaterial. When I got the chance to read it, I got Burroughs’s method to his madness: internalizing queers’ feelings.

For this reason, impressed by his unique twist of writing, I heard that his critically acclaimed NAKED LUNCH is a good read. I will buy it at any cost as soon as I spot it. ^^

Rating: 3 / 5 stars