All posts by Ronald

Your week in books #3

I’ve had a busy week, so apologies for not being able to put up your weekly installment of “Your Week in Books” yesterday. Here it is now!

Vladmir Nabokov hunting butterflies in Switzerland
  • Aside from being the author of “Lolita“, Vladimir Nabokov was also an avid collector of butterflies. It appears that way back in 1945, he had come up with a hypothesis that a specific species of butterflies migrated from Asia to the New World, which professional lepidopterists dismissed. Turns out he was right, after all. (Source)
  • The University of East Anglia (UEA) has been given 50 letters written by J.D. Salinger to his friend Donald Hartog. The UEA website doesn’t say what exactly are in those letters, but Mediabistro says it reveals that Salinger liked Burger King and Tim Henman. Okay. (Source)
  • Haruki Murakami’s new novel, “1Q84”, will come out in October. Paul Bogaards is Knopf’s publicity director. (Source)
  • For those interested in how books get made, check out how the University of Iowa Libraries bound together a 10,000 page poetry book written by David Morice. (Source)

I’m also hoping to finish “I Am Number Four” later today and have a review up by the evening, so watch out for that one!

Book review: Brian Katcher’s “Almost Perfect”

Growing up gay, I found very few books about the gay experience. I think it was late into my senior year in high school when I finally got around to grudgingly reading some Danton Remoto, and it was only four years ago that I finally got to read gay classics like James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room” or E.M. Forster’s “Maurice“.

While I didn’t exactly have a difficult gay childhood, I sometimes wish that I had these books around when I was grappling with my sexuality. I feel like it would have made things so much easier for me and probably shortened my time in the closet considerably.

But if I had any trouble, I’d think it wold be so much more difficult for transgendered teens. I don’t think the transgendered experience has been written about a whole lot, and I am struggling to think of a book in the Western canon that does so.

Which is why it’s a good thing that there are now books coming out that tackle this particular experience. In 2004, we had Julie Ann Peters’ “Luna“. And just recently, Brian Kathcer’s “Almost Perfect” won the Stonewall’s Children and Young Adult Literature Award, given out at this year’s Newberry Awards. Of course I had to get a copy.

Definitely not a hot tranny mess

My comic book childhood

If it wasn’t clear from my numerous posts on “Lost Girls“, let me say it straight to everybody: I grew up on comic books.

I think my relation ship with comic books started in much the same way it did for a lot of middle class Filipino kids — from reading those Filipino serials that they used to rent out to everybody back in my home province of Marinduque. Nights would be spent that way: gathered around a pile of komiks and just reading.

Marvel, DC, and everything in between

Your week in books #2

Here’s the weekly roundup of book news for this week!

Snooki. On a horse.
  • Of course, the big news this week is Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi getting an interview on the Today Show while Newberry and Caldecott medalists Claire Vanderpool and Erin Stead get snubbed. According to the people behind the Newberry and Caldecott awards, they had pitched a segment with the two authors on the Today Show but was declined because of a “lack of interest and scheduling problems”. (Source)
  • Author Ian McEwan is getting a lot of flak for agreeing to accept the Jerusalem Award, which is given by a book fair in Israel biennially. Supporters of Palestinian independence are saying that accepting the award amounts to supporting the current Israeli government, while McEwan says that that is hardly the case. Previous winners of the prize include Bertrand Russell, Simone de Beauvoir, JM Coetzee and Mario Vargas Llosa. That’s not a bad bunch. (Source)
  • Apparently there is now a thing called a vook? Vook stands for “video book”, which are two concepts that are really not gelling in my mind. Is it still a book if you’re watching it and not reading it? My head hurts. (Source)
  • Is it just me, or is William creepy in this one?

    Finally, take a look at the Prince William and Kate Middleton series of comic books. It’s going to be made up of “William Windsor: A Very Public Prince” and “Kate Middleton: A Very Private Princess“. That’s all well and good, but Prince Harry is the one whose story I’d like to find out more of. (Source)

Book review: Scott Westerfeld’s “Behemoth”

I know, I know. I’ve been remiss with my  blogging duties, and so early in the game as well. But it’s been a mostly crazy few days at work and with my personal life and I haven’t been able to spare some time for the old book blog.

I did, however, have time to do some book shopping.

As most of you guys know, Brian Katcher’s “Almost Perfect” won this year’s Stonewall’s Children and Young Adult Literature Award, so finding it on the local bookshelves was a pretty good signal for me to buy it. I’m looking forward to reading it and seeing what the buzz is about.

I also got myself a copy of Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower“. I’ve heard about this book countless times from so many people, and I’ve been seeing it on bookshelves for about as long. But I’ve never really found a cover that I really liked as much as this one. And this copy’s cheaper than the other editions!

But the most important thing I did the past week was finally finish reading Scott Westerfeld’s “Behemoth“, the second book in his “Leviathan” series.

The Great War continues

Lazy Sunday

Still not done with my “Leviathan” re-read as the party last night went a little longer than I thought. Just woke up a few hours ago and have yet to get down to business.

I did pass by the office before heading off to the party venue, where I was handed that cute little planner, courtesy of the National Book Development Board. I also passed by the mall to claim my Laking National Card, and found a copy of Michael Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” marked down to about 10 percent of its original value. YAY FOR ME!

I don’t “shelf dive” as often as I used to when I was much younger — I would most often be found with my ass up in the air as I checked out the floor level shelves of the Booksale at Robinson’s Place — but I still manage to find some good stuff when I find the time to do so.

Book review: Scott Westerfeld’s “Leviathan”

Busy day today, paying bills and the like. Later tonight I will be meeting up with friends from the Philippine Tolkien Society, so I thought about putting up my review of “Leviathan” that got published about a year ago because I may not be able to write later on today.

I’m currently re-reading this YA steampunk novel by Scott Westerfeld to bone up for “Behemoth“, the review for which I hope to have up by Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.

Clankers and Darwinists and the Great War, oh my!

Your week in books

Here’s what I hope will be a weekly roundup of book events and news happening all over the world.

'Almost Perfect' seems like an interesting read.
  • THE NEWBERRY AWARDS were given out several days ago, with the prize going to debut novelist Clare Vanderpool for her work “Moon Over Manifest“. However, the book that caught my interest was Brian Katcher’s “Almost Perfect“, which won this year’s Stonewall’s Children and Young Adult Literature Award. It’s about a high school senior who finds himself attracted to someone transition from male to female, and I have to say that aside from Julie Ann Peters’ “Luna“, this is only the second YA book that I know of that deals with the subject. (Source)
  • “60 YEARS LATER: COMING THROUGH THE RYE” is actually going to be published and distributed. If you don’t know what that is, it’s that long-rumored sequel to “The Catcher In The Rye” that J.D. Salinger did not write. In it, a Holden Caulfield rip-off is now geriatric and escapes from a nursing home. I feel like this is going to be horrible…but I wouldn’t mind being given a copy. (Source)
  • Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander

    I have all the books in “The Millenium Trilogy“, and one day I will get down to reading all three of them. Someday I will also get around to watching the movie adaptations, but for the meantime I will enjoy looking at Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher’s adaptation of the books. (Source)

  • There might be a “Fight Club” musical. (Source)

The second time around

Conventional wisdom tells you that you should never judge a book by its cover, but what I’ve found to be true for me is that you should never judge a book on your first read. As I’ve grown up to the ripe old age of twentysomething, I’ve discovered that a lot of the books that I despised as a child ended up as being some of my favorites.

Surprisingly, a lot of the books that I did not want to read were the ones hoisted on me in high school. It’s not like I wasn’t up for a challenge — I got to about a quarter of “The Odyssey” before the end of summer vacation cut my reading short — but it was because some teachers just have a knack for taking the fun out of reading.

When before I could take my time with a book, savor the language and the world building and pretty much imagine myself in the story, I had to read these assigned books with a joyless focus, worrying about which character, utterance, or random detail would pop up in tests. If there was ever a time when I was thisclose to hating reading and books, it was during high school.

Back then, if we were given a choice to pick a book to read and be quizzed on, I would always consult with upperclassmen before making a decision. That was how I ended up picking J.D. Salinger over Edith Wharton — an overwhelming number of the seniors that I knew told me that it was the better read.

Salinger and Wharton and everything in between

Lost Girls, Book Three “The Great and Terrible”

Finally, our story ends.

With war on the horizon, Alice, Dorothy, and Wendy bring their tales to a close. Their tales get more lurid, just like the sexual configurations they get involved in at the hotel they are staying in, but all of that becomes window dressing to the arguments for sexual fantasies, erotica, and pornography that Moore lays out in the final book of “Lost Girls”.

It’s amazing that despite the very graphic illustrations, one really doesn’t end up touching themselves while reading “Lost Girls”. Like Neil Gaiman has remarked, this is not a “one-handed” read. It is an intelligent and beautifully-illustrated book that succeeds at an incredible balancing act — that of championing sexual imagination and its expression in the arts, while at the same time warning and condemning the excesses one commits if they let it take over their lives.

I’ve already talked about Moore’s prose and Gebbie’s artwork in the previous posts, and suffice it to say that they maintain that same sterling quality throughout the work. This is a work of love, and is definitely worth the hefty price tag.

This is a fantastic read. If you can still find copies, I suggest you guys should buy it.

PS. There are no pictures for this one because there is precious little in book three in the manner of clothing or people not engaged in some sort of sexual act. C’est la vie.