The Flood by Emile Zola ( Book Review # 4 )

Our country   is not immune from any strong tropical storms since  it is located  near the  Pacific Ocean  where  typhoons  that usually hit  the eastern parts of Asia   develop.  In  October 2013, the world was appalled to hear the news that the super typhoon Yolanda, Haiyan for its international name,  completely devastated and wreaked   wide havoc  all over the southeastern  region of our country. Thousands of lives  were lost and  billion pesos worth of properties was destroyed. Thereupon, many countries from all over the world   expressed sympathies by donating billion dollars and offering solemn prayers. Grossly   disappointing, concerned critics  from different civil society have been vociferating  that  the  large amount of money must have been stolen by the corrupt government officials because until now the  areas affected have not been  rendered  full assistance and services.

y1

y2y

This horrible, ghastly disaster is no longer new to us Filipinos. In fact, many typhoons,  although not stronger than  Yolanda, have   dashed against our hopes and left  unhealed  wounds in our hearts because of the aftermaths they brought about. One of these  is flooding.

The residents in Metro Manila will never forget the typhoon Ondoy in 2009. One of the scenes indelible in our minds  that was  broadcast on TV  was  this:

ondoy-aftermath-by-wenzzo-pancho

Almost all  the cities in the National  Capital Region were paralyzed  by this. Many people were stranded and  not able to go home from their work  nor meet their families.

ondoy

Our family is fortunate that our city is not prone to this kind of disaster because  the city is mountainous. So, I am glad that I have never gone through this kind of experience  yet. Gee whiz!  I do not want to  get sick of post-traumatic stress  disorder. However, I  am still worried that our city may  sink as do other adjacent cities in the next generation since the  global warming is now at the eleventh hour.

emile-zola-novella-the-flood-mediumThe  Flood   is a true story. Emile Zola drew the inspiration from the flood happened  in Toulouse , France.

It appears that Zola knew how  it feels to be a victim of flooding. He must have  been one of the victims at that time  that he was able to put his  suppressed feelings into  such a masterpiece. That is why the story is well written.  The scenes are so perfectly depicted that they  sent shivers  up and down my spine .   Besides, the writing style is traditional, which I like in classics. However, the first plot  vividly depicted  prior to the flood sounds to be slapdash as though I was left hanging , for I  had wanted to keep glowered and bask in a happy typical of a family as well as the optimistic spirit among the characters- the  real situation experienced by the victims  before  the disaster . Furthermore, the story   does not tell where the  flood originates . Just it happens when someone shouts, “ The Garonne! The Garonne! “

On the other hand, I appreciated the ending. As  how a disaster begins,  it will run its due course when the  sky clears and the water calms down , a vast scenery of death will open to you- a nightmarish reality of life.

We cannot deny  the fact that  force of the  Nature is so powerful that the face of the Earth could almost be exterminated; that however means of  effort we make , this so-called natural phenomena is uncontrollable.  For some,  it could be an act of God . Be that as it may, but we must always keep in mind that ,  somehow,  to be in good harmony with the Nature is to be MORE RESPONSIBLE for it. Sadly,  we  still fall  ourselves into the abyss of  avarice and ignorance.

Think about our grandchildren in the future.

The Nose by Nikolai Gogol : A Book Review

The perpetual question that is always asked among contestants at any beauty pageants:

“ If you were given a chance to change any part of your body, what would it be and why?”

The common answer is that they would not change anything as they are satisfied with what they have. But the immortal answer I have ever heard is by our very own Melanie Marquez-Lawyer prior to her winning the title of 1979 Ms. International because of her flaw grammar structure:

” I would not change anything because I am content with my “longlegged (sic) ”.”

For sure, you could have been knocked in the aisle , or at the very least cringed upon hearing her answer if you had been among the audience.

But I have never heard such a question yet :

“ If there is one part of your body that is so indispensable that you are ashamed of without it, what is it? “

Your answer would be_______________?

the noseThis is my first Nikolai Gogol’s masterpiece. I have heard a lot of positive feedbacks about him. So I am glad that I have made time to know him more.

Somehow I had difficulty interpreting the meaning of this said satirical novella. I could not get at the real intention of Nikolai Gogol. The concept is too quirky to understand- a man loses his nose and then becomes anthropomorphic .

Literally, without much knowledge of the Russian socio-political history, the satire could refer to the economic and political status of the officers rose through the ranks at that time . Whatever it may be, I still enjoy it because I find the story amusing. It is so funny that a man of the first rank in society is dog-determined to look for his missing nose around until he turns to the last resort that he will have his abject misery advertised in public , in exchange of a high reward. Besides, I missed reading classics which syntax is old-fashioned and archaic.

To shatter my idle curiosity, I made an effort to search the other critical analyses. To my dismay, little did I realize that in the context of Freudian dreams interpretation, nose could be phallic in nature. So, how would you associate the meaning of the dream with the latent intention of Gogol’s satire? What does a phallus stand for? It could be the desire of the protagonist to look to his laurels since in the story he does not want to get married yet, for he desires to rank higher? Otherwise, if he does not have his “nose” returned, he could be stripped of his rank? If so, well , there is nothing to say more. Enough said!

I would not go without my eyes; I could never pamper myself with the books on my list including Gogol’s.

A Son of the Circus by John Irving: A Book Review

Somewhere in a vacuous universe of this tube, Joey bumped into GR.

Joey: Hi, you look familiar with me. Have we met before? You must be … one of my friends on Good Reads!

GR: Oh, yeah! You are …Joey! ( overwhelmed )

Joey: And you are …GR! Oh, it’s nice to see ya here! ( shaking hands with GR)

GR: Oh, yeah! As though we haven’t seen each other for ages! ( laughs)
( then she saw a book Joey holding) Oh, you must be reading something. ( trying to look through it) Wait ! wait! Wait! You have been reading John Irving’s ?

Joey: ( hiding the book behind his back ) Ah,huh…er… I have. ( smiling )

GR: What’s the title?

Joey: Ah…er..A Son of the Circus.

GR: Oh, really? Wait! ( thinking ) Is not that on the list of 1001 Best Novels of All Time? ( giggling)

Joey: Oh, yeah! You are right!

GR: I said it. So,what do you think of it?( excited )

Joey: Ah.. er..Well, H-how bout you? What have you been reading?

GR : Oh, I have just finished a chicklit by Rainbow Rowell. OMG! It’ terrific. I recommend you read it. It’s heart-breaking!In fact, it won …..

Joey: Oh, really?

GR: So , Is John Irving’s interesting?

Joey: Er..I think I have heard a lot of good things about Rowell. I would love to read hers too.

GR: Oh, yeah ! Come on! Get on with it! Then, let me know what you think of it. I am so excited !What was it again? Oh, yeah! It is John…

Joey : Ah,( looking at his watch ) er.. I am sorry! I’ve got to go! Nice to meet you again, GR. Chat you on Good reads. ( walking past him in a hurry)

GR: Er..H-how about …? Wait! ( waving his hand ) Ok. ( watching him fading away ) …Is there something the matter with the book? ( muttering under his breath, despaired)

When GR was home, he logged into his Goodreads account. The first message popped was from Joey’s.

____________________________
To: GR
From: Joey

Hi, GR. I’ve checked that you haven’t read A Son of the Circus by John Irving’s yet.Well, I don’’t wanna be a spoiler. If you wanna read it, have LONG PATIENCE.
Otherwise, you might end up laying it to rest.
Good luck!

__________________________________
ji

At last, I finished this 708 –page novel since I had let it on my study table collect mote of dust as well as get stuck and musty in my currently-reading list on Goodreads for a year. Gee, at that time I still found it very humorous, replete with amusing themes I could not find from other novels, as well as I was impressed by its firs immortal THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP ( 4 stars ). In fact, I was tempted to read first thereupon buying his A WIDOW FOR ONE YEAR because I was fascinated by its softbound cover. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. So, automatically, I gave it 1 star. And for the second time around, A SON OF THE CIRCUS is somewhat less disappointing than the former . What’s the matter? In effect, doubtless , John Irving is a gifted writer. I liked the fact that he is able to write such ambitious novels as though he does not have to deal with a writer’s block, as if he never runs out of any ideas. Besides, it is amazing of him to jumble up his different themes together in the same concept. On the other hand, since it is now my third novel, I am now getting more familiar with his writing style than that I found out why I gave both A WIDOW FOR ONE YEAR and this one 1 star. First, Irving loves dilly-dallying with his stories as I thought of before. He tends to beat around the bush. He does not stick to the main story. Rather, he tells more details about a superficial situation I am not very much familiar with. . Who cares? Thus, the narrator sounds to be blabbering.

Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah!

Furthermore, I have noticed that John Irving loves repeating the same stories in the other chapters in a sense that they are all connected- a writing style that is doubtless very rare among other writers. However, such style is persistent in a sense that it ends up a pain in the ass. Imagine a plot goes like this :

Chapter 1 : You read a story …………………..blah! blah! blah!
Chapter 2: You read another story…….then here it goes again, the same with Chapter 1…blah! blah! blah!

I am telling you. You need a considerable amount of long patience to finish it.

Granted that this is less disappointing, I believe that this is still a masterpiece. For me , any piece of literary work is a labor of writing skills. Alas, it’s beyond my taste. But as the cliché goes,” There must be the method to Irving’s madness.”, and this is on what I want to be shed light someday.

I still have his two novels more on my shelf: A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY and UNTIL I FIND YOU. I wonder if he wrote them with the same style. Dear me!