Reading binge

    I watched The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader the way Elizabeth (I mean the Queen) did, with 3D eyeglasses. I almost backed out, considering the horrendous price of the movie ticket—a whooping P250.00 peso. My almost Marxist inclination tells me something is very wrong about this country. It being insensitive to the salary of the ordinary citizens. Where will Juan and Juana find any relief and comfort (like watching a movie), just like any decent human being should, from the humdrum of oppressive existence?

     No wonder the population keeps on growing. And the Bishops are either wondering/wandering why, safe and comfortable in their cloistered walls, or are they simply barking at the wrong trees, you know, condom and all? Since we’re at it ( I mean oppressive existence), no matter how much millions of pesos (or dollars, depending on perspectives) are poured into the advertisement campaigns against movie piracy, you can’t stop people from patronizing those “dividee-dividees” sold cheap by your friendly- neighborhood-Muslim brothers. The movie prices these days are simply an ambush.

    I actually thought of mounting a revolution, the way Bonifacio did, on the strength of the movie price being a definite kill. I thought of calling my relatives, friends, allies and students to collectively rip apart our movie tickets right there at the doors of the movie houses. But, I am big on myths, legends and any sort of storytelling stretching our imagination. I will not miss C.S. Lewis’s Narnia for a life, not even with my raging selfish genes running wild all over the movie house’s door. I know—I am not to leave the movie teller without a protest. Can I at least keep the 3D eyeglasses? I asked. The lady teller simply answered: No sir. Next please.

    The little consolation I had after watching the movie is that Oholliab, my 19-year-old nephew who must have inherited my knack for reading books, borrowed and read the C.S. Lewis’ Narnia from which the film was adapted. I am pretty sure I will have a hearty and intelligent conversation.

    Since quite lately I noticed that I am running out of “intelligence” in my tit-for-tat chatter with much younger peers, especially on issues of using technology, I decided to borrow Narnia myself from the library, intent to extract every bit of meaning from it. Except for the few images that resounded to my Christian background, I picked up a handful of “meanings,” but that would not be enough artillery, I know, for an intelligent chat with my nephew. However, I enjoy the book. Isn’t this reason enough to read?

    Next thing I did was to go to several book stores and hunt, what else, for books. I picked up half a dozen titles. I devoured Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man. The book was simply enthralling. I actually finished the 130-page treasure in a single sitting. This leaves me yearning for more. Angela’s Ashes was next. Written by the same author, the book is a triumph of what Truman Capote calls non-fiction fiction. For now I have resolved my doubts of McCourt winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for this wonderful imaginative recreation of his childhood Dublin, Ireland. Or, was the account for real? No matter, Frank McCourt is so engrossing a read. The ending for Teacher Man, as far as my experience is concerned, is like a sweet fulfilled promise, a soft drizzle in mid-afternoon, leaving you wanting for more.

    Next stop was Krip Yuson’s Great Philippine Jungle Energy Café. Was I late reading this fiction? The title alone can keep you pleasantly dizzy. Imagine the luminaries of Philippine history captured in an imaginative universe that is the Philippines, as if in a time line happening just now. After reading Yuson, you will not have the second thought in believing (the way the people who stay in the mystical Mt. Banahaw do), that the center of the universe, and the” true” Jerusalem is the Philippines. After reading Yuson, I thought I read a poem.

    But, don’t take my word for it, just grab yourself a copy. You are doing this country, nope yourself, a favor. The book has been published a couple of years ago. I actually castigated a friend for not pitching me the title early on. I had to go from one book store to the other to get me a copy, to no avail. Until, this notorious friend finally parted with his copy. I whole heartedly sympathize with my friend for not lending me the book. A book this good (excellent! superior! tour de force! I am running out of superlatives) when lent seldom goes back to their proper owner. Yah, yah, yah. I promise to return the book. Promise. Promise.

    Then, there’s Paul Thoreux’s Dark Star Safari. Thoreux claims that the book is his own travel narrative from Cairo to Cape Town in Africa. If this is so, we have to give credit to the man’s thoroughness to details, transforming these details into something beyond the litany of them. In Thoreux’s narratives, you will have Africa’s AIDS (I mean figuratively), superstition, an ordinary African’s insights into American imperialism, terrorism, relationships between and among genders, and many more. The book is more than an expansion of imagination; it’s a gateway to maturity. If Africa still is the “last frontier,” then I would not mind bringing Thoreux with me.

    Then there is Alec Guiness’s My Name Escapes Me: The Diary Of A Retiring Actor; Sanjay Nigan’s The Snake Charmer; Gore Vidal’s Dreaming of War; and Philip Yancey’s Prayer: Does It make Any Difference?

    If you’re wondering what do I do for a J.O.B. that I have all the time in the world to sit and read? For Christmas’s season’s sake, it’s vacation. It’s time to connect not only with our loved ones, but with ourselves as well. And yes, isn’t Kafka correct? Sit (and why not add—read), and the world will unfold.

    Happy Holidays everyone!


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