The last thing you’d want when making yourself interesting to people is inviting the crickets over as your conversations spiral to matters of the weather. Here’s when literature can save a soul—or at least give you a bone to break the silence your last topic gifted you.
Not that lit is made solely to please. Grab a pen or load your e-carts; have a list of (mostly local) books and ’zines that’ll open your mind to the normal and imaginary.
You can stop following Old Manila Nostalgia now. Anvil Publishing has recently released The Manila We Knew, an anthology of essays tracing the city’s glory days down to its fall from grace and back to its current state of urban limbo. Unlike most texts that fleshed out Manila for all its faults, this book—edited by Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio—brims with perspectives tinged with memory, humanizing the city we loved and lost. Available at Anvil Publishing.
Manila’s worth all the talk as seen in No Chaos, No Party, a hardbound book featuring books, interviews, art, and the archives of artists living in the city. 218 pages are littered with opinion and technicolor, all attempts to summarize conflicted feelings about Manila as their burden of a muse. Eavesdrop on the dialogues of Dex Fernandez, Wawi Navarroza, Pow Martinez, Ryan Villamael and many more as you witness the city from angles you haven’t seen before. Available at Art Books.
Two years since his first poetry collection Histories, Charlie Samuya Veric writes Boyhood, another series of poems that reverberated with recall. Scenes by the shore and set in a province are juxtaposed with a dawdling manual on bomb-making, creating a contrast between experiences. It doesn’t matter if the author is or isn’t removed from the persona; the trajectory toward loss of innocence—from trusting hearsays to witnessing deaths to actively participating in sex—is mapped out in a fashion you’d understand because when you think about it: You’ve been there, too. Available starting today.
In case Wong Kar Wai, Park Chan-Wook, and Francis Xavier Pasion weren’t enough to get you binge-watching Asian movies, let NANG do the trick. The English 10-issue magazine covers cinema and its cultures rooted in this side of the world. Similar to in-depth journals like Gastronomica, NANG dives head first into the pool of Asian films, swimming to explain the genius and sensibilities behind them. Motion pictures stay in stasis, as rich photography and words tell their stories here. Available at Art Books.
This isn’t some healthy-ish recommendation. Korean author has been recently translated into English, offering a front-row view into fiction mired in madness, shame, and (un)conscious entropy. Yeong-hye, homemaker and the book’s protagonist, wakes up from a brutal nightmare that prompted her decision to stop eating meat. Her abstinence leads to consequences and sheds light on others’ indulgences—some imagined, some real. Available at National Bookstore.
Quite older than the bunch but nonetheless original, Conchitina Cruz’s A Catalogue is a 15-page ’zine reminiscent of black-and-white handouts flying in the streets. But unlike flyers on property, this piece makes poignant use of sharp poetry and visuals, sometimes supplied by its pictures but better painted by the words. “Packing reveals to you what you should do without,” a line reads. The text fools with its seemingly simple form, but the joke’s on you when the persona peddles her clothes and you assume not her material possessions, but the identities she kept under. Available online.