Category Archives: Literature

Blaze by Richard Bachman

Standard

He was going to make this happen. His feet and his head was set, and when he got that way, he always did what he said he was going to do. It was his pride. The only one he had.

Blaze by Richard Bachman

I remember reading From a Buick 8 a summer ago and being completely at loss for words. Not only do I feel the same after reading Blaze – a novel strewn from the mind of a 70’s writer (and who had since died of cancer of the pseudonym) who had turned the transcript to its true maker, Stephen King – but I also spy a twinge of depression in my core.

Blaze, though fictitious, seems like an actual person, who, I believe, deserves more: more justice, more truth. His character upheld the entire novel, which in turn, makes us think about options: the good ones and the bad ones, and how life would, could, should turn out to be so much more in whichever we choose; chances; the right call. The drive to stay alive. The desire to achieve something great before we die. The cohesiveness of using and being used. The importance of indulgence and freedom. We can choose to be bad if we deem it for the good of ourselves, of society, or of the ones that matter to us. We all have reasons – reasons that are not always acceptable. As Brandon Flowers sings, “You were born with goodness”, and it is amazing how the bad can sometimes end up as or for the common good.

It was sad. The idea that struck me the most was knowing how Blaze’s life could have turned out differently. How it could have been had he not triggered his father’s ire in those early days of his life, had his friends stuck with him for the latter parts of his days, had people listened and had not overlooked him, had people not used him, and had he not fallen in bad company. Fact is, Blaze is a good guy, probably the only con that you can sympathize with. All he wanted to do was to take care of that baby. He could have done so, too, but we all know that Blaze wouldn’t be going anywhere. He just kept on running, keeping the kid safe in his arms, enduring; keeping his pride – the climax that construed the complete and irrevocable sadness that I cannot even clearly express. There was just one way to end the tale.

It broke my heart thinking about life’s purpose and the freedom that comes with it. There is always the inevitable, and there are many people, myself included, who would like to come out of it embossed with things that we never screwed up; things that we carefully plotted not because of greed but because we deserve it, and we understand that best. It’s sad thinking about watching birds fly in their absolute freedom. Or dying for someone who will never know you when you’re buried in the ground. Blaze just wanted a purpose to live – anything to tell him that he’s doing well on his own; somewhere he can place his faith, among other things.

It’s painfully emotive how Stephen King can grip at your heart and toy with your feelings. Well played – it works in a surprisingly real way, too. In his foreword, Mr. King bade the Constant Reader a pleasant reading, hoping that we mist up, and hoping that they wouldn’t be tears of laughter. Believe me, the heartbreaking truths of human nature and the odd hand of God cannot suppress a laugh out of my stomach. It is more difficult now to divert ethics and morals, and I think one has to read Blaze’s story to understand why.

4/5

As by the door to get to Heaven
Seven trumpets big and bright
You hear it coming in the middle of the night
A caution to the children
Time to turn your crimson white

We’ve all got reservations
Trials will come suddenly
And without explanation
But you were born with goodness
You were born with goodness
Wherever you go now

I’m right behind you
In the light of hope
I’ll be beside you
On that dusty road
And if you get blind, well that’s alright
Wicked winds blow with grace and might
Cling to the ways of my name
When you touch the stone

Break your word over me
Sinking in the quicksand
Break your word
Don’t you see?
You’re breaking me down now

I’m right behind you
In the light of hope
I’ll be beside you on that dusty road
When no one expects you to deny
And no one accepts your reasons why
You cling to the ways of my name
When you touch the stone

No one expects you to deny
And no one accepts your reasons why
You cling to the ways of my name
When you touch the stone

Advertisements
Aside

I have been skimming through this poem that I wrote three years ago. It’s been hidden since then that I thought it would turn out amazing or meaningful now. Back then, it felt like a masterpiece. But, after reading it today, it felt worthless, destitute; incomplete.

It’s funny. I was thirteen when I wrote that poem – almost out of my first year in high school. The Seniors then were so cool that the title alone bore such fecund distinction. From the outside looking in, I had at least hoped that our batch would turn out to be like them. I now feel years behind them; immature. I am full of bitterness, though I can never understand why.

I am almost seventeen now. My anger has consumed me, and thinking about it frustrates me all the more. I don’t like who I have become, but I’d like to shove my way to where I want to be.

On Monday, I’ll be reconciling with a lot of people because that’s how I roll. I need to get some things off my chest.

Poems are not like novels or legal opinions; they are more like blown leaves…. Poems have a way of getting lost under sofas – it is one of their charms, and one of the reasons why they endure.

Different Seasons: The Breathing Method by Stephen King p. 446

A beginning and an end
A full bag finds its place
Another has been left
Half-opened and untraced

Another has been reached for
Just to have and to hold
Another is being washed
Before it could get old

The things observed at hand
Used to be eras away
Now years have mounted up
Just counting on your stay

As real as it could get
Childhood swiftly flown
Visions of uncertainty
Vaguely outdoes what has grown

A toga lightly brushed
A cap proudly worn
An end to life’s stories
A promise she has sworn

Books soaked with hopes and regrets
En route to summer school
Not a fretting matter
The boy is but a fool

Reminiscence ascends
Atop the faded stoop
A spot where she sat on
When she had met her group

Hope fills the atmosphere
Next to that stapled joint
A spot he had stood on
When he had made his point

Bitterness and anger
Kills her sorry soul
Restrained from her merits
She cannot control

A casket says goodbyes
So innocent and young
A soul who left off plenty
Where new life had since sprung

A stage set for reckoning
The carpet paced and blue
Firmed desires and goals
Halfway coming true

When harmony settles
We see no disarray
But endings are expected
For life passes away

Fart Life

Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet by Joanne Proulx

Standard

I’m not going to tell you life’s easy. I’m not going to tell you it’s simple. But I will tell you it’s worth living. Every minute of it.”

– Mr. Hunter (Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet by Joanne Proulx)

A fresh fugitive of one lackluster birthday party one Saturday afternoon, I found myself skimming through the stacks of novels at Booksale. I had wandered away from the side where the Stephen Kings used to sit (most of them have long gone by then), and I had decided to scan the ‘cheaper’ areas – yes, Booksale does have that, where the self-help manuscripts and autobiographies, along with other stray good novels, usually sit. And because I was sensing that the dull karaoke session of the birthday party was nearly over and that it would be time for KFC (and that I better be there when that happens), I finally took the book that Bet was handing me so we don’t linger around too long enough to make the clerk suspicious. It was Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet by Joanne Proulx. And, believe it or not, I got it for only P10.

But here’s where Booksale completely goes overboard because a novel such as this one should never be put up as cheap as that – not that I’m complaining. But it is just one of the best novels that I’ve read in recent times.

Here it is: Luke Hunter is real. Psychic or not, he’s just real, so there. I would unmask him to be anyone, and he’s still real. During the week that ensued, he’d been the best companion, him being so resentful and bitter and contemplative. The first chapter just threw me off guard with the swearing and the metaphors and the wily humor, above all. And for a whole week after reading the first lines, I just could not put the book down. Heck, I didn’t even want it to be over. Just imagine that sad pimply face all contorted when I reach the thirtieth chapter. I was in love with Luke’s character. It was his don’t-give-a-fuck attitude and verbosity or lack thereof that got to me. He was a curious thing, always deep in thought, fearful but honest, envious, dissipated, fucked-up even. When he made that “Stokum Sucks” shirt with Stan, I was just as inspirited to thicken my face and print “I am elite” all over our club tee. It is because of him that my inquisitiveness of the years ’02 and ‘03 resurfaced, as it had subtly submerged when I had stumbled upon CM Punk’s defunct Livejournal blog. Admittedly, it was also him who has buoyantly, unintentionally egged me on listening to music (I have my eyes on Johnny Cash – he’s ’02 album was indeed mournful – and Red Hot Chili Peppers, as of late). Of course, he also handed me the keen interest on suburban life, teen angst, young love… and drugs are never out of the picture.

And of course, there was death and the constant knowledge that everybody, everybody, is going to die. It is no secret that I am afraid of this piece of information, this short memo that appears from the moment we were conceived. But reading this book made me feel completely tacit. As though there is someone to share the mutual feeling with. The feeling of constraint and being trapped in a world that you’re not going to walk on forever. He brought fear, the question of a Supreme Being’s existence and losing faith, the options of what to believe and who to believe. He had the questions that people always have. Why him? Why not him? Why this life? He didn’t have a lot of answers as none of us do, but I think that’s what’s really comforting, what’s really believable. With all the shebang that has been happening these past couple of days, I needed a breather, something relatable, not an advice. And that’s where Luke stood. He was the barrier that sustained all the good things from all the bad ones. He filtered the bad ones and managed to cross them off the list of worries. And that is, by far, cheaper than therapy.

There was Fang, who, at first came off as bit annoying, but became incredibly heartbreaking in the end. I myself was shocked at his big McCreary Park revelation. Of course, we never did know if he ever went back to Jefferson or if he ever did kill himself. But when Luke decided to stick to Fang by all means, even after knowing of the latter’s dirty little secrets, made the story even more compelling for my part. It was climbing Jefferson’s roofs and Fang having an emotional breakdown that broke my heart. I was over all shocked for Todd Delaney because he was right the minute he told Luke that the latter “does not know a fucking thing”. I initially thought that it was only his absent mother that strikes up his nerves, but I did not know as well. So, the thing about climbing Gandy’s Rock was the best. It was just so real and honest and breathtaking, I had to reread it several times.

And then there’s Stan. Or as Luke would describe him:

Fucking Stan. He could do shit like that. Look people in the eye and say good, true things. Fool you into believing that everything you ever wanted was so close all you had to do was reach out and grab it. Fucking Stan. Busting with laughter. Thrilling to life. Making it look so goddamn effortless.

Stan – the dead friend. The holiest friend. The only good and pure thing in the world. Everything began and ended with him. And whether we believe in fate or not, it was all about Stan. Everything was interconnected because of him. And if Luke and Faith’s theory about believing in the godliness of human nature was not true, what else could be?

The writing was bold and remarkable. The novel itself struck a chord in my innermost being. I don’t think I would be able to consider thoughts and feelings had I not read this. It made me focus on my deepest and strangest emotions and whatever it is that gets me down just as Luke had questioned his life. The book had a lot of points that I just completely agreed with. One of this is the disputable opinion of having a fair God, not the one that the church would force you to know about, not the one-sided Being that fundamentalists will tell you about. The fact that Joanne Proulx made Luke Hunter a first-person omniscient was perfect. I would not have had it any other way. Reading it aloud is way better than just keeping the story to yourself, just so you know. I’ve often wondered why I can’t seem to find any other book that Ms. Proulx has written after Prophet. Could it be possible that this is her only novel? Is this going to turn into a movie soon? I am deeply interested in reading her work and knowing more about it. In just a week, she has turned me into a fan.

We could go on and on talking about this incredible book, but that would take me days. It’s just so beautiful I don’t have the right words to describe it. But this is just me. We all have interpretations. This one knocked me off my feet.

Another MUST-READ. Wouldn’t it be if I post it here?

Well it’s a 6/5.

I’m dropping you off this Bouncing Souls song, Like The Sun. I found it rather suiting for the novel. If Luke Hunters had a soundtrack from every time someone passes through his life, here’s what I have heard throughout my perusal.

Drifting alone on a wide open sea, letting life pass me by
Avoiding everything I’m afraid to be, but your heart shines a light
Lost in my own misery, till you came and helped me see
That I don’t have to be alone
Thank you for giving this lost heart a home

So keep the light on
I’m coming home
‘Cause I’ve been gone for so long

Always lost inside, always looking away
When the best moments in life are ours to take
The tragedy of human life, the darkness that lurks inside
The days that we quit and start to die
This is the time to stand and fight

So keep the light on
I’m coming home
‘Cause I’ve been gone for so long

Keep the light on
Yeah I’m coming home
‘Cause I’ve been gone for so long

So shine on
Shine on
Shine on
Shine on
Shine on

Drifting alone on a wide open sea, letting life pass me by
Avoiding everything I’m afraid to be, but your heart shines a light

So keep the light on
I’m coming home
‘Cause I’ve been gone for so long

Keep the light on
‘Cause I’m coming home
‘Cause I’ve been gone for so long

So shine on
Shine on
Shine on
Shine on
Shine on
Shine on
Shine on

Glamorous Disasters by Eliot Schrefer

Standard

The book is incredible. I cannot believe that it took me two years to actually get to read it. I suppose it went rather well with the odd concoction of things in my life: of tutors, of active passivity, of willingness and unwillingness, of competitiveness, of wealth, of society and status, of college. I could never proceed to putting it down for it felt too real. Eliot Schrefer’s words pierced my very core and penetrated through the flaws that I had been hiding. They were cruel, and before I could understand it, I was brought back to life’s rude awakening.

Noah’s students were interesting because they were relatable. There is Cameron Leinzler who would do anything to rise above the ranks of the class. There’s Rafferty Zeigler who can’t get past the ranks. And of course, we also have the Thayers, Dylan and Tuscany who are not exactly the intellects, nor even the pseudo-intellects, the glamorous disasters.

Extracting his partying and drug habits, I actually like Dylan’s character. Because he knows of nobody who has faith in him, he has no desires, nothing to gain. He is what the book says he is:

A dissipated young man. Not happy but not depressed, sheltered from ambition and thus also from discontent. Smooth and intentionless.

I was attuned with him when he refused to listen during math or even bother to pick up the pencil to draw triangles. I felt susceptible towards his disinclination to learn and faithlessness towards himself. It was awfully painful, and I can’t help feeling sorry for him. He is just the epitome of the spoiled damned kid who feeds off his parents’ aspirations. But what really broke my heart was his choice to take the test after all without any cheat, and, as expected, ending up alienated from any university. And, the fact that he had asked Noah to stay until the test was done was proof that he only needed direction, and that had it been there before, he would have done a lot better in his life.

Tuscany is also a favourite. She was simply an attention-whore who could hold a candle when challenged. If it had not been for the spoiling nature of her junkie doctor of a mother and a non-caring absentee man of a father (who is actually smart and sly himself), Tuscany would have had more chances in life. Because, unlike Dylan, it was not too late for her. She had ambitions and goals. All she needed was a little push – and a pull away from men who were twice her age (yes, even Noah better keep his paws off her). And Noah was right: she can make it in this world. And, success story – she actually did, which begs the question: am I a Dylan or a Tuscany?

Noah was the complex one. His love interests would easily alter from one girl to another without consciousness. It would seem that no matter what he does, how he does it, or how much he’s getting paid for it, he always has these debts and loans that just won’t get waged. I believe I now understand the distress of tutors, how frustrating it is to have students of varying personas. There are those who are too competitive and there are those who are too hopeless. Of course, there are also those who are tempting and cunning and will do anything with cash. It is a profession of deceit, and losing your position seems to be the worst thought of a moment. Noah’s own head was usually filled with his observations of the Upper East Side: of the power that he wishes he had, of pride and morals, of the reputation and high status in their society. But, the thought of tutoring the well-off kids, putting off chances for the kids that were once him often leaves him bitter and resentful in his subconscious state of mind.

Eliot Schrefer, who, by the way is a Harvard graduate and was once a tutor himself did not leave us hanging. The ending went rather well with the entire novel, in fact. Did Rob lie when he denied an attraction towards men? Did Noah even touch that $80, 000? Did Noah pay off his debts? What happened to Kent? These are the questions that, I believe, were fine without an ending. I think I would like to make the assumptions to myself. 🙂 Do not be fooled by the many acclamations of this first novel. It is, in actuality, more than just those.

I’m glad that despite my discombobulated thoughts, I chose this novel right off the shelf. Initially, I had thought that a chapter or two would be a good companion while I was sick with the cold. The entire novel actually turned out to be a rather great read for the whole semester break. For the record, I never read The Nanny Diaries or The Devil Wears Prada. Every other reviewer found Glamorous Disasters, in a positive sense, a shade of both novels. Then why isn’t this a movie? I thought it would be great, honestly. I have been imagining a cast list for the novel with Penn Badgely as Noah. In a good way, I think that would be rather fitting as Dan Humphrey is also an “outsider who became a magnificently observant insider”.

I lalalove this novel!

READ IT.

5/5.

To Write

Standard

You dont know where you come from or where you’re going, do you? But you live with it just the same. Don’t rail against it too much. Don’t spend more than an hour a day shaking your fists at the sky and cursing God. There are Buicks everywhere.”

– Sandy Dearborn (From a Buick 8 by Stephen King)

Hi. I finished reading From a Buick 8 today. I think that the Author’s Note in the end humanized Mr. King, hehe. This is not a review of the said book. I just wanted to leave a space for it on this blog because it gave me this insane, ineffable feeling. I felt so galvanized reading the latter parts. I guess the whole book has a likeness to my present disposition. And mind that the note was written on May of 2002! The book – the first Stephen King I ever bought – is flat-out heartwarming. I just felt it tug at my heart, squeezing. This was how I felt watching Stand By Me when I was nine. And take note that Stephen King wrote that as well. It’s not euphoria, not morose. But it makes me feel vulnerable yet very happy; very inspired. It makes me think again of growing up, and getting old, and leaving a whole lot behind in the midst of questions and sadness and confusion. Life’s short. Sometimes, we want answers, but there aren’t always any. But we move on, we look back at the past when we cannot change it. We makes decisions – some, pleasant; others, not so favorable. Of course, we get scared every once in a while, but we beat our obstacles to the punch. To me, it seems that the book conveys the message that life is like the Buick in the story. Hidden behind the doors of Shed B, always there without our realizing it, keeping its secrets. We live it, we’re fascinated with it, we get frustrated with it, and sometimes, we may not like what we see or feel. It’s strange because we want to learn it so we study it but in the end, we feel apt to the idea of just getting used to it. It’s a great book. And I’m looking forward to buying another Stephen King on my birthday.

Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

Standard

I have to write this while my enthusiasm is still on a binge. Hands-down, this book is genius. I wish I could share with you here the best excerpts that I found in this book – and there are a great deal, I tell you. I’m only afraid that if I do just that, I will be re-writing the entire novel. And then I’ll be charged with plagiarism. I don’t believe that Mr. Sonnenblick will be pleased about that. I won’t. Anyway, here are the constant things that I am more than convinced you will experience while reading Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie.

  1. The minute you pick it up, you will never put it down.
  2. It will make you laugh.
  3. It will make you cry.
  4. It will make you cry until Steven says something in that brilliant narration of his and then you will start to laugh with welled eyes and snot nose.
  5. It will make you laugh and cry well enough. Period.

I read it aloud. I read it aloud twice, actually. I felt as though I shouldn’t keep a story this well-written to myself – as though the whole world just had to hear me read it in my Steven Alper voice. Honestly, Steven is the man. Although he is sarcastic and tends to think about himself habitually, he is also a sweet, likeable character that seems almost real. His desires of glory and beliefs on talking back were highly akin to mine when I was in middle school. Even in times of his own personal hell – with his mother’s anxieties over Jeffrey’s situation and his father’s cessation of paternal responsibility, the little things Steven did for Jeffrey were still breathtaking and appealing. Shaving his head for example, so Jeffrey “wouldn’t have to be bald alone”. And then there’s pulling out of the 8th grade dance, or his big All-City Jazz Band performance, which he worked on for a whole year. If there’s someone in the book who will touch the reader the most (in the old-fashioned version, mind you), it was Steven Alper and his great deal of humorous and equally heartbreaking commentary.

And then there’s Jeffrey’s character as the pesky kid brother that an older offspring will most likely whine about. Steven has had his own share of grievances. But it was Jeffy’s condition that added tragedy to the book. It was also the very thing that caused the revolution in Steven’s views regarding the world, the people in his daily living, and even himself. As much as I am highly affected with comic stories, I am also gravely susceptible with tragic ones. So while I was reading the book, I always had to deeply respire while Steven portrays the bruises on Jeffrey’s skin, on account of the latter’s illness. This odd act of mine also ensues every time Steven screams out his remonstrations (“Dad, they didn’t just put tubes in. They stabbed him in the chest. They STABBED him!”). Of course, Jeffy also pulled the tears right out of my eyes. Like when, after getting a rude-awakening from a classmate and realizing his baldness for the first time, Jeffrey, distressed, tells Steven what the latter describes as the “saddest little thing” for an answer : “I didn’t want you to find out I was bald, too”.

Now, it was in the character of Samantha that I truly found the saddest dregs of life. Of course, she did manage to teach Steven a few lessons of her own. Her pleas for Steven to keep close with his brother were haunting, but it stuck out during the most volatile proceedings. In the end, I was still seeking for the missing pieces of the puzzle. That blasted author left me left hanging! XD But I think I have a rather fine guess of whatever happened to Jeffrey afterwards.

Having scrutinized a good number of books in my pre-teens, I had almost forgotten how it feels reading without the “dissection” part. These past years, I have perceived a couple of books as either life-changing or bland. Well this one touched me. It will grab your heart and break it into pieces. But after you have shed a tear or two (or three, or four), it plunges right back up to make you laugh. It’s simply brilliant! And real.

Jordan Sonnenblick has an incredible sense of humor. It actually makes me feel happy that, in his afterword, during an explanation regarding a few things about the book, he stated that he was in fact Steven in middle school. Steven’s personality made me immensely happy. And I’m sure Mr. Sonnenblick is making the people around him as gleeful as I was while reading his book. I was especially enlightened when he wrote, “I think the best and noblest things about being a human being is that we find laughter anywhere. We just sometimes forget to look”. I would gladly take that into consideration, Mr. Sonneblick, perhaps, in one of my classroom furies.

For the sake of having two weeks off from school, I thought I might enjoy a bit of rereading. And if I was so moved with the story then when I first bought it, just imagine how I venerate it now. Indeed, these past two days, I felt captivated with the story so much so that I felt as though I was part of the Alpers’ family life as well. It made me want to comfort Mr. and Mrs. Alper, make Jeffrey better (or if it’s any help, make him at least feel better), and, for all the right things and sacrifices that he had done, I want to join in the bandwagon and tell Steven that he really is a good man. I’m glad that I chose to reread this wonderful novel. Bottomline is: Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie certainly kept me company and inspired throughout these first days of Christmas break.

A MUST-read.

5 out of 5.

Mister Twister

Standard

At the Supreme Open Call. I met a lot of interesting people. That guy in red, sitting next to me, is way awesome.

“I try to bring my own insanity to the announce table. Inside my head there’s this whirlwind of nonsense. People seem to enjoy my music preferences; I’ll drop a Smiths or Rush album title once in a while. I hope that everyone who hears me also hears that seven-year-old kid who’s still inside me having the time of his life.”

~Matt Striker
WWE Magazine, January 2010 issue: On his mouth for winning the 2009 Announcer of the Year WWE Magazine Award