Treasure Your Friends who Pick Your Nose. [Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Green and Levithan]

I am a fan of John Green. I have all his three novels in my Favorites Shelf, and I am exercising the best of my EQ while I wait for my reserved copy of his newest novel, The Fault in Our Stars(!!!). I have always liked the way John Green treads lightly and oftentimes darkly on the dangerous, humanity-eating-path of being young, in love, and growing up. [And because I am a lazy blogger, as of this post, I have read TFiOS twice and I am starting the blog on it. Just you wait.]

David Levithan is yet to fill my shelves. I only have his Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which I loved, but I have a list of his books I have been meaning to buy/have such as his A Lover’s Dictionary.

From the minds of these two much-loved Young Adult writers come their brain child, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which, according to the blurb [and because I am always lazy to think of an appropriate summary] is about how:

Will Grayson meets Will Grayson. One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers are about to cross paths. From that moment on, their world will collide and lives intertwine.

Did you prepare yourself for a butterflies-inducing romance between the two Will Graysons? I spent a good five minutes of my life thinking of what is the full name of the female Will Grayson. Was she named Wilhelmina, like my cousin? Or was her real name Willany? Wilhelma? I know I was being sexist and stereotypical, jumping to picturing a heterosexual couple immediately after reading the blurb.

And then, I proceeded to reading until the second chapter, and I was still convinced that the second Will Grayson, whatever her first name was, was the female Will Grayson. Up until the fourth chapter and a friend accidentally confirmed my thoughts, had I come to terms that the two Will Graysons were both biologically males, and one of them, to my delight, was gay. And, no, they were not to fall in love with each other, although I was rooting for them up until the seventh chapter I guess.

I could have disliked these two authors for misleading me through in the book blurb. They led me to believe that two characters, with the same name (!!!) were bound to have their world collide, their lives intertwined, and of course, fall in love with each other. I could have, if only the story of these two Will Grayson was adorable and heart-fluttering, just like any Young Adult romance should be.

There was a throng of lovable characters. I was set to like Will Grayson Number One, the brooding, quiet type who likes lurking around people, keeping his thoughts to himself and opening his mouth only during the most pressing times. There was Will Grayson Number Two who was the emo(tional), woe-is-me, i-hate-you-world gay who had problems “coming out” to his mom and friends and also coming to terms with his sexuality. He came across as a bit too whiny to me, although Tricia thought he was more adorable than Will Grayson One.

And then there was Tiny Cooper who was not tiny at all. Oh, I loved this gay dude. He was the epitome of my gay friends from college who I love and with whom I have usual spat/bitch fest at twitter. He was witty and snuggly that, as much as I loved Will Grayson Number One, Tiny would be my Turn-to-Keychain-So-I-Can-Lug-Around-With-You-Alwayz Character [also because my feelings for Will Grayson Number One was a little too dreamy]. Tiny was insightful:

“I would never come on to you, because you’re not gay. And, like, boys who like girls who are inherently unhot. Why would you like someone who can’t like you back?”

To which, My Love Will Grayson Number One had a witty, and more gut-wrenching [okay, that was exaggerated] reply:

The question is rhetorical, but if I wasn’t trying to shut up, I’d answer it: You like someone who can’t like you back because unrequited love can be survived in a way once-requited love cannot.

I could whine and rant about how true Will Grayson Number One’s statement was, but my maturity and my emotional stability, thankfully, would not allow me to.  But yeah, I hear you. Will Grayson Number One was being a little too truthful, which brings me to Will Grayson Number Two’s definition of love:

me: you know what sucks about love?
o.w.g.: what?
me: that it’s so tied to truth.

To add to these three characters was Tiny’s musical, that amazingly encompassed the two Will Grayson’s growing up problems: Will Grayson Number One’s rules, and his, surprisingly, world-revolves-around-me issues, and Will Grayson Number Two’s trust issues and his annoying inferiority complex. [I have my biases, you know.]

Everything was made up after some thinking time and good conversations, and a good deal of feelingsy as Tiny said, but it all boiled to friendship. As Will Grayson Number One’s Dad had said [and to those circulating the quote with Source Unknown at the end]:

Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.

But you see, Will (Number One) picked Tiny’s nose, albeit under an almost life and death situation, but he proved his Dad wrong. For a friend, you would do anything, pick a friend’s nose, write a play about him, gather all the Will Graysons, drive all the way to another state in the wee hours of the morning, etc.

“NO. No no no. I don’t want to screw you. I just love you. When did who you want to screw become the whole game? Since when is the person you want to screw the only person you get to love? It’s so stupid, Tiny! I mean, Jesus, who even gives a fuck about sex?! People act like it’s the most important thing humans do, but come on. How can our sentient fucking lives revolve around what slugs can do. I mean, who you want to screw and whether you screw them? Those are important questions, I guess. But they’re not that important? Who would you die for? Who do you wake up at five forty-five in the morning for even though you don’t know why he needs you? Whose drunken nose would you pick?!”

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is one of my well-liked feel good novels, a break from the cruel world outside. It is a lighthearted novel that will make you appreciate the little things around you, especially your equally drunk, broke, lost friends.

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A Curious Incident of the Dog [and Tin’s] in the Night-time [and Some Other Times], Mark Haddon

I was a teenager driven by angst and swimming in the gallant idea of love when I first read Haddon’s Whitebread Award Winner. I vaguely remember liking it back in high school, and as I started hoarding again, I wanted to have my own copy. Luckily, the gods sent Sasha to give a copy of the book in exchange of my undying love. Hihi.

I find it fascinating how kids perceive the world. Their simple logic and their innocence are among the few wonders we have left in this otherwise chaotic reality, and I have always considered the world in their eyes my happy place.

Christopher John Francis Moore is a fifteen-year-old boy with autism, and he sets out in a Sherlock Holmes adventure to search for the killer of his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, while we are familiarized with how Christopher views the simplicity and complexity of human relationships.

I know. It’s overkill.

Just recently, a good friend read this novel. I told him that I would not recommend this as a holiday read as I remember being sad while reading it. He dismissed it saying that he guessed that Christopher’s mother did not die at the start of the novel, thus, making it predictable, and that it was not as sad as I said it was.

I wanted to argue with him [Or did I?] and point out that maybe he was just unfeeling when he read the novel. Until I realized that maybe, it was actually I who was indulged in Christopher’s character, and that maybe, I did a bit of overreading, and well, overfeeling which lead me to quiet sobs at some parts.

Christopher reminds me of another favorite fictional character, Oskar Schell of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Both were just so sad and somehow, have trudged on life with so much fear, that have stirred what people call emotionz in me. Now, before I turn sappy and bore you with my woes, let me prove my point on Christopher:

I stepped outside. Father was standing in the corridor. He held up his right hand and spread his fingers out in a fan. I held up my left hand and spread my fingers out in a fan and we made our fingers and thumb touch each other. We do this because sometimes Father wants to give me a hug, but I don’t like hugging people so we do this instead, and it means that he loves me.

And it was exactly like having flu that time because I wanted it to stop, like you can just pull the plug of a computer out of the wall if it crashes, because I wanted to go to sleep so that I wouldn’t have to think because the only thing I could think was how much it hurt because there was no room for anything else in my head, but I couldn’t go to sleep and I just had to sit there and there was nothing to do except to wait and to hurt.

I don’t know if it was the maternal instinct kicking in, but I long to protect these kids from the cruelties of life and preserve their innocence and ideals.

One thing that made a mark on me was when Christopher’s father finally told him the truth that he killed Wellington.

You have to know that I am going to tell you the truth from now on. About everything. Because… if you don’t tell the truth now, then later on… later on, it hurts even more. So…

Now, this is the part where I fell into a mild argument with the friend I was telling you. I know he was just being his annoying self [ :3 ] when he said that he hated Christopher for being too maarte [I couldn’t find the right word in English! Picky?]. But you see, it was disillusionment that felt, and it has always been a touchy and favorite concern and emotion for me. The poor boy had put too much faith in his father, and when he found out the truth, he felt scared and lost.

As adults, we hurt when certain beliefs turn out to be lies. We are already armed with what people call as maturity and our emotional quotient tells us to get past it and move on, but the pain and the fear remain. How much more for a boy like Christopher who only has his father as his only guide?

But maybe, all the too much feeling and sadness were because I am the kind of reader who always immerse myself in the character. I wear their heavy boots as they go through that certain chapter in their life, and it has become inevitable for me to separate myself from our hero.

Still, I don’t think that it’s that much of a bad idea to read that way. It is just that seeing the world in a child’s eyes is something that I, and perhaps some of us, long to go back to. Life is cruel, and as Christopher puts it:

Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you can never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.

Well,  then, good luck to us adults.

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Arm Yourself with Books for The Zombie Apocalypse

Hello, 2012! I have long been waiting for you! And, well, hello readers. *fidget, fidget* I hope that you are still with me.

Roughly ten months since I started The BiblioPile, 40 books read, N number more bought, two hiatus status, and a promise to blog more religiously, we have come to 2012–another year to be a better person, to immerse in new characters, and learn about more fictional worlds.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, I had not gone on a writer’s break, but rather I was bitten by the holiday bug and have succumbed to the call of soul wandering. Ehem. But fear not, [Pardon the melodrama. The season calls for it.] for with the month of idle posts come with the gorgeous book hordes to be devoured:

1Q84, Haruki Murakami (gifted by a former professor, Miss AiMac); The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides; On Love, Alain de Botton; Flipped, Wendelin Van Draanen (Christmas Party gift); I Am a Cat, Natsume Soseki  (gifted by Sasha); Snakehead, Ann Halam (gifted by an officemate); Graffiti Girl, Kelly Parra; Dumot, Alan Navarra (gifted by a college friend); Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

Well, that was quite a list, and believe me, I would have wanted the list to be longer.

I am in the middle of Revolutionary Road as of writing time, while my thoughts on Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Before I Fall, After Dark, and Kiss and Tell are sitting well in my head for the coming days. I promise to blog on these books, which I thoroughly enjoyed, as soon as I manage to squeeze in time in the busy days ahead.

Please be as excited as I am.

The year 2011 was a challenging one, with heartbreaks, found love, another heartbreak, steady work-related stuff, falling off with friends, finding and building on new ones, and welcoming a family member. The books that I have read this year have, indeed, been more than escape in the ugly reality and have given solace in rough times.

Looking for Alaska has inspired me my mantra for 2012 and maybe, for the rest of my life, which I have happily inked on my body. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close opened a deep well of emotions I had in me, and A Lover’s Discourse continues to engulf me in the maddening world of Lurve.

I look forward to unraveling more realms of good and bad literature all together with you in this tiny nook of cyberspace. For now, I’ll go back and finish Kiss and Tell and start that blog on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

All together now: Cheers, you bookworms. Happy New Year!

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MARRY ME, Son of Neptune, and Let’s Make Babies with Seaweed Brains

After almost a year of whining and staring longingly at The Lost Hero, the fall of 2011 [writing as if there is actually a fall season in my part of the world] finally came and along with it is the second installment of Rick Riordan’s Heroes of the Olympus series, The Son of Neptune.

The cover looks amazing, as a friend commented. *blush blush, Hi Percy!*

Our favorite hot-headed, impulsive, and loyal demigod was back, albeit with no memories of the past except for the name Annabeth [Really, Riordan, could you get any more cheesier? If yes, with all due respect, Sir, go ahead.] and in a camp that was a tiny bit scared and suspicious toward him. He reeks of Greek and why is it that all I could think of is lamb chops, which I have not tried…yet.

Let’s not talk about food, shall we? Let’s talk about something as appetizing, hurr. DID I JUST SAY THAT.

I was excited in seeing Percy Jackson back in action. His name was all over the first book, The Lost Hero, and I missed reading from his perspective. I got used to seeing things from his point of view, and his rather short sentences.  I bet it was a rather brilliant move by Riordan to introduce Jason in the first book in the series, judging that avid readers, ehem, were looking for Percy that moment the book was release. The anticipation to see Percy and hear his thoughts again was cruel, but bearable. The Lost Hero was fun, yes, and I did enjoy Jason’s perspective and least liked Leo’s, but I was rooting for Percy, okay?

And of course, we finally met the two new addition to the series. Hello, Hazel and Frank. The prophecy tells us that there seven demigods who will, yet again, save the world from the impending doom by Gaea. I was happy to meet another child by Hades. You see, he’s one of my favorite gods, and Nico de Angelo was my The Demigod. Percy was fine, but someone who can summon dead people? You’d be crazy to turn than one down.

I find it pretty amusing that Riordan played on the other mystic power of Hades/Pluto in his other kid. While Nico’s abilities was mentioned already, this girl can summon wealth from the pits of the earth, only, with a curse that is not so much of a curse if you’re evil, but you know, Hades is not evil, only terrible. Thus, the sad life Hazel lived, and after being resurrected, continued living. I would have wanted to pat Hazel and tell her, “Suck it up, kiddo. Tough times.”

If I were to divulge on this particular theme in Riordan’s novel for children, it is pretty timely. More than the Disney telling that, hells yeah, everything comes with a price–that with every piece of gold you dig, there is the price that you pay. Maybe a life or the cascading of another’s good fortune. Equality, eh? Kind of creepy, but you know, I maybe overreading. After all, this is a novel for kids, but I guess, it is never too early to tell kids, “No hoarding.” [I could have picked up a thing or two from here. Look at my books and shoes and make-up and clothes. Gah.]

Also, it seems fun to dig around my backyard to see if I have more than earthworms and dirt hidden there. My lost boots, perhaps?

As I went on in The Heroes of the Olympus Series I am leaning toward the popular opinion that this is better than the Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series. Riordan has not lost his touch with the proper pacing of events. No matter how many monsters our demigods have to face, they always come in good, evenly distributed events during the course of the story.

I remember doing a readathon on this book, ranting to my usual reading date [Yihee, I called you a date, Shushurr.] that I was too tired of chasing these demigods all the way to Alaska, but I could just not put the book down and have them freezed in my mind with a monster with them. I had to see them safely back to their camp!

Also, I was rather amazed at how Mars was played here. Since I am a self-proclaimed fan of Percy, it was expected that I was with him on hating Mars, but then, we met his other persona with, huh, more emotions that I initially thought do not befit a War God. We know Ares is all tough outside, but who would have thought that there is actually a gooey part in him, which actually turns sad with every battle lost? Like a marshmallow, hihi.

The old woman only stuck around this long out of a sense of duty, Your mom was the same way. That’s why I loved her. She always put her duty first, ahead of everything. Even her life.

The God of War is capable of emotions, and contrary to the angst-ridden, I-hate-everyone Ares, Mars actually has a thing or two to say about life and war. No wonder Frank is temperamental compared to Charisse.

Life is only precious because it ends, kid, Take it from a god. The mortals don’t know how lucky you are.

You do the easy thing, the appealing thing, the peaceful thing, mostly it turns out sour in the end. But if you take the hard path–ah, that’s how you reap the sweet rewards. Duty. Sacrifice. They mean something.

And then, good gods, there was Thanatos, the God of Death. It’s a rather creepy thing that he actually looks “beautiful–timeless, perfect, remote,” as Hazel described it. It made me want to embrace Death. And the fun part of it was Riordan romanticizing death.

I am frequently mistaken for the god of love. Death has more in common with Love than you might imagine. But I am Death. I assure you.

–which is a pretty profound thing to say and had me in a fit of giggles especially that I have  friends who have a hobby of philosophizing death and its friends, of which Love is of the upper percentile of important buddies. But the similarities of Love and Death is another story.

As I wait another year for the full coming of the seven demigods, I think I shall have to live by the Amazons’ way of living. And maybe, you should, too. Just don’t take the last two words too seriously.

We Amazons, we would prefer to live life to the fullest. We live, we fight, we die.

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The Blogger Needs and Does Some Explaining

Hello. Uhm, yes. The blogger is alive, but is metaphorically dying since I have not done any serious reading lately, hence, the absence of posts. Okay, that sentence very much like sounds a run-on and signals the lack of writing practice, ahem, which, ironically, is what composes my everyday work life. As much as I would like to say that I had this reading or writing euphoria during the past couple of weeks that would explain the brilliant lack of posts, I was rather engulfed by that cancer called Laziness and Bookwhoring.

If only you would stop throwing me that accusatory glance and look at the bright side of this problem: Look! I am posting a blog blog! I am talking to you about reading! Or not reading?

Anyway, I have been whoring around the books I have at home. For weeks, I have been trying to find that one book that will finally have me tied down, craving, begging for more lashes at my humanoid-ity and my dorkery, but so far, I have slept with around five of them, but there was no such luck in finding that elusive The One [or more aptly, Book Flavor of the Month.]

I have started on A Plea for Eros, Siri Hustvedt. It is a beautiful, beautiful book, but my heart (made of steel) was not in essays. I usually read fiction, but I do have collections of essays at home, which, in every once and a while, I hold and stare and put my palms on their pages, trying to grasp what is within them. But for an ADHD reader like me, it usually takes a while to get my full attention on stuff that are sometimes too serious for me.

Then for the nth time, I tried reading Gary Shteynghart’s Super Sad True Love Story that is heartbreaking and funny at the same time, but is, hmm, taking some time to sit in my brainz. I am a fan of sad novels, and as much as I know that the title suggests a satire romance, I know that had I willed the power to finish this novel, it could in for one heart break, but then again, it was some time during the first 70 pages that I felt myself craving for something that is closer to my heart and my senses, thus, I went to read a realist fiction.

Skippy Dies has been sitting in my Favoritez Bookshelf for months now. I have tried reading it for three times, I think, but I always, always find something much more interesting or much more in tune with my current emotions that made me veer away from that school of obnoxious boys, thus, making my efforts to not get too attached with Skippy [since he dies and it is wrong to be invested in a character who will die. Sniff, sniff. Alaska.] becoming overworked.

Right now, I bring After Dark with me to work. It is small and light, and it fits my bag anytime, which makes it an easy companion. I have no trouble with Murakami’s short sentences of vivid descriptions. I am liking the plot, but I fear that I have not invested myself in the story, yet. This explains the relatively long time I am spending in trying to finish reading the novel despite the few pages and large font.

Then, of course, there is A Lover’s Discourse, but this is a different matter all together, as I have long resolved that I will devour each page of this gorgeous book little by little, over the months, so as my drug will last long. Reading this book has become too personal, that it takes certain emotional preparedness before I enter that mad world of Lurve. Also, I want to write an long entry on this, but it will take time and maybe a ton episode of sad nightz with Vodka and creying, too.

I will finish Murakami soon. And I still have not written blogs on Rick Riordan’s Son of Neptune and Mark Haddon’s A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which were both awesumz you should read it.

Hopefully, I will find that elusive story that will captivate my bleeding heart, piercing this tiny nook of the intarwebs that is my blog. I will be back soon. I promise.

Meanwhile, here’s my first [and last?] tattoo I had in honor of one of my favorite books of all time. The photo was taken a few minutes I had it inked under my left collar bone, so pardon the gruesome redness.

For she had embodied the Great Perhaps—she had proved to me that it was worth it to leave my minor life for grander maybes, and now she was gone and with her my faith in perhaps.  (Looking for Alaska, John Green)

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A Long Way Down [and Up], Nick Hornby

In accordance to the depressing months of September and October, I have braved my way into yet another novel of suicide and questions, but this time, on a lighter narration with Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down.

Once or maybe several times of our lives, we thought of going the easy way out. We ask of what is the point of living in this cruel, miserable world where we have nothing stable to cling on to, where change is constant and inevitable, and the fear of unknown is among us every waking moment of our life. [Or is it just me? Heh.]

The story opens on the rather festive New Year celebration, the occasion of hope for another year to come, and yet,  we meet four characters who decided that they have enough of life’s misgivings. There is Martin Sharp, Maureen, Jess, and JJ, who all have decided to give up on life’s punishment/burden/hopes/life, in general. Who wouldn’t?

We see Martin Sharp, who had the life everyone would have wanted to have, but then, he makes one mistake and the life he had worked hard to secure crumbles before him. Then there’s Maureen, a single mother of a child who is practically her life’s burden. JJ, who lost life when he thought he lost music, and then Jess, our resident heartbroken teenager who lives on angst and heartbreak. After hearing of their stories, there was the “seems legit” moment. Life has been terribly hard on these people, no wonder they would want to succumb to that seemingly eternal abyss of afterlife.

And another way of explaining it is to say that shit happens, and there’s no space too small, too dark and airless and fucking hopeless, for people to crawl into.

We have four characters to pick from, depending on which battle of life we are on now. There was Jess and the angsty phase everyone had gone through, hated and was embarrassed by it. JJ and his quarter life crisis, ehem. Maureen and the woes of being a mother, and Martin and the difficulties of looking helplessly at a life that is cascading before you. I thoroughly enjoyed being in the subconscious of these characters, but somehow, it didn’t feel like I was having the experiences first hand, that even if I was supposed to have the reader in me immersed in them, I feel detached. I felt like I was looking at them from a far, even with the obvious inclination to Jess’ heartbreak and JJ’s quarterlife crisis.

“That’s it.” I said. “This disease that dries up all the blood in your veins.”
“That’s just what happens to everyone,” said Martin. “It’s called getting older.”

Which made me realize of how I value of the language use. This is the first Hornby that I have read, but I would like to claim that I have familiarized myself with the language of chic and lad lit before. I have developed certain fondness over the easy flowing conversations, natural wit, and light flow of the story that characterize this genre of fiction. I would have enjoyed such, I think, had I not read and fell in love with Foer’s romantic language.

You see, both authors were talking about the hopelessness in life, but for some reason, with Hornby narrating these characters woes, there was Schadenfreude. My spirits felt uplifted after knowing of other people’s miseries. I found happiness on their grief, knowing that I have a better life than them, that at least, my drunk moments did not equate with that of Martin Sharp’s that caused him his job, stature, and family or I think I still have not lost my writing, which is the same with JJ’s regard with music. But with Foer, the sadness was contagious. It made me realize my life’s flaws and how I could have lost hope had I looked at  life at these certain angles.

But then again, we are talking about suicide, and the beauty of Hornby and his pen is the way he could talk about serious topics such as suicide in a light manner. As I have said, September and October are proving to be difficult months for my emotional stability and psychological capacity to fathom life, and a shared grief on suicide may just tug a string. Huh.

In tough times of life questions, we all need a Hornby, for his is the hand that is from the other side of the building offering us the better and sweeter side of life.

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Take Me to Algoe. [Paper Towns, John Green]

John Green introduces us to his new gang of lovable characters, which may or may not be among my favorite, unforgettable characters with Alaska and Pudge. The usual are present: the gang of annoyingly endearing friends, the resident awkward nerd male protagonist, and the kick ass female character.

I read the introduction of Paper Towns at the back part of my copy of An Abundance of Katherines while I was on the train, on my way to work. The ring of John Green’s lead characters was evident–the female character, Margo Roth Spiegelman, has captivated our shy and awkward Quentin Jacobsen. There was an overwhelming of adoration in Q’s part, which I was quite well aware will be central in the story.

For most readers, the template characters of John Green on his novels are becoming tedious. The female character always overpowers the male character despite his usual gawky support group of friends, and the Alaska/Lindsey/Margo, instead of living to be a character of her own, at some point is reduced to be a crucial part of the development of the male protagonist. Most readers have trouble in Green’s characterization. Yes, I would have wanted for the female character to have events happening to herself, to have her story to tell, and for her story to stand alone. For most stories, the female character is the stronger character, but she always ends up as a phase in our favorite dorky guys manning up process.

On the template characters of Green, however, I encounter no problem for this. It is probably because I like routines, and the awkward guy + bad ass chick tandem always works for me. Besides, it fascinates me how many side of a geek can Green show through his books. Heee.

In terms of characterization though, the Alaska/Margo resemblance bothered me a bit, especially the part of Margo pulling pranks and being erratic, but Margo started to veer away from the shadows of Alaska in the end.

Paper Towns, the novel, tells us of the extent of Q’s [puppy] love for Margo and what he is willing to undergo or to make possible to prove of his adoration. Now, I did Google the meaning of paper town as a town that doesn’t exist, and it’s actually kind of creepy how the same [internet-based] definition as written in the book is as the same as what is found at urbandictionary.com. This makes me want to know who wrote that particular definition, or was it through this that Green found his pitch for this novel.

Margo, however, has made her own definition of Paper Town:

“Here’s what not beautiful about it: from here, you can’t see the rust or the cracked paint or whatever, but you can tell what the place really is. It’s not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It’s a paper town. I mean, look at it, Q: look at all those cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store.”

What’s more amazing is her idea of paper people:

“And then you surprise me,” she says. “You had been a paper boy to me all these years–two dimensions as a character on the page and two different, but still flat dimensions as a person.”

“I looked down and thought about how I was made of paper. I was the flimsy-foldable person, not everyone else. And here’s the thing about it. People love the idea of a paper girl. They always have. And the worst thing is that I loved it, too. I cultivated it, you know?”

Now, during one of my teensy moments, I remember running to a guy buddy whining about my crush from afar, and he tells me that maybe, I was just crushing the idea of that guy, that maybe, all the information that I have had in mind of the guy, summed up into my ideal man, but is not necessarily the same guy.

It was the same as the part where Q and Margo had a row, only my guy buddy was gentler:

She’s screaming back, louder than I thought possible. “You’re not even pissed at me, Q! You’re pissed at this idea of me you keep inside your brain from where we were little!”

Ah, the disillusionment. The moment when you realize that all you were wrong all along, that you were pursuing the wrong thing. Q had his idea of Margo in his mind ever since their childhood, and since Margo kept away from Q for most years, the idea managed to stuck with Q. He had Margo, the mystery he wants to unravel, but refuses to be so, the Margo who used to play with him when they were ten, the Paper Girl Margo. The truth must have stung, especially given the lengths Q went through for chasing what was actually an illusion.

I could have laughed at Q’s mistaken love, but the things is, until the very end, I was actually questioning his love for Margo. After knowing the supposedly real  Margo, he has stuck with her, which could have been out of pride? Out of the “Ah, demmet. I went all the way here for you, might as well go along with you” urge, or could it be because he has gotten over the disillusionment and after seeing the “nekkid” Margo, no make up, no more air of mystery around her, disheveled, he still loved her?

I winced as every word of Margo slashed him, even deeper than the gash on his cheek. Still, I would have wanted Q’s love to be as genuine and as pure as that. There was a part of me that hoped that Q knew about this stubborn, bitchy, selfish Margo. I was in pain with Q when the truth that Margo knew all along hit him.

But then, unlike Looking for Alaska with much loom and darkness, Green makes us see a ray of optimism. After all the hurtful words and the shedding of paper, they buried the notebook of the Paper Margo and Paper Quentin.

Margo was ready to leave, but Green never told us if they had return to their town, or had they pursued Margo’s initial plan to carry on living as a bum. I mean, after all the disillusionment, they were to start anew. Clean slate, cause they have finally left the Paper Town of Algoe, to be real people living in real towns, with three dimensions, or who knows, with four dimensions even.

“I left the only way you can leave.
You pull your life off all at once–like a Band-aid.”

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Winter is the season of alcoholism and despair–The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides

How timely that I am revisiting Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides a day after the Philippines celebrated World Suicide Prevention Day.

Eugenides greets us with Cecilia’s suicide attempt–gruesome and disturbing–which makes the first detail that we now about her character is, that, she wanted to end her life, and no, the reader, as well as the omniscient narrators were left clueless and groping for details. But before we tear our hairs, we find out that Cecilia survives her suicide attempt, we get that sliver of hope that we might know why she decided to end her life and we were introduced to the other four equally interesting Lisbon sisters, Lux, Bonnie, Mary, and Therese.

This was basically the story: The five Lisbon sisters, beautiful and at the peak of their adolescence, aged 13-17 respectively, who all decided to end their lives.

Their characters remind me strongly of the maiden character in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. The sibling who was just too beautiful and pure, that while she was drying their clothes, she just went up to heaven. Oh yes. I heard your mind was blown too. Among the dreamy characters in GGM’s award winning novels, she’s a favorite.

The Virgin Suicides  is a relatively short novel, but to some unknown and unrecognized reason, it actually took me more than a week to finish the novel. As you well know, the weather in my part of the world was what my Potter friends call Dementor weather. Dark skies greet you every morning, sucking that ounce of happiness in you. Oh yes, there was despair everywhere.

It was only nine o’clock, but everything confirmed what people had been saying: that since Cecilia’s suicide the Lisbons could hardly wait for night to forget themselves in sleep.

This could have been a factor. I mean, despite my said liking to sad and depressing novels, there was the conscious effort to steer away from depression triggers, or it could have been the language used that kind of needs a little getting used to, for a reader like me who, most of the time, prefers seeing conversations that bulk of paragraphs.

What makes this story interesting, that we could easily dismiss as tragic and then move on, was the voice that Eugenides used in narrating the story.

After Cecilia’s first attempt to kill herself, the reader gets hooked with the investigation the narrator started. There was the yearning to know more about the Lisbon sisters. And this desire intensifies after Cecilia finally succeeds in taking her life, which, was narrated beautifully. [I know it sounds evil to use beautiful and taking life in one sentence, but *lip quivers*]

 The wind sound huffed, once, and then the moist thud jotted us, the sound of the watermelon breaking open, and for that moment everyone remain still and composed, as though listening to an orchestra, heads tilted to allow the ears to work and no belief coming in yet. Then Mrs. Lisbon, as though alone, said, “Oh, my God.”

In this story, we were made voyeurs. There was an immense need to know more about the Lisbon sisters, to see them more, to be with them more. The overwhelming rage brought by hormones teenagers deal and accommodate. Hell, it was creepy, all right.

We were consumed by the raging hormones of our narrators, on the verge of frustration and disrespect. 

There was too much wanting in the narrators, and the reader could not help but feel accounted for in satisfying this craving, to the point of being dragged to the pits of guilt–of knowing much, but not enough to help the remaining Lisbon sisters, or rather, to stop the remaining four from killing themselves.

We felt the imprisonment of being a girl, the way it made your mind active and dreamy, and how you ended up knowing which colors went together.

Since we’re on the topic of hormones, oh yes, there was sex. Not too much sex happening, but there was lust and desire, it was creepy how Eugenides translated them.

In the trash can was one Tampax, spotted. Sissen said that he wanted to bring it to us, that it wasn’t gross but a beautiful thing, you had to see it, like a modern painting or something, then he told us he had counted twelve boxes of Tampax in the cupboard.

In Dr. Hornicker’s opinion, Lux’s promiscuity was a commonplace reaction to emotional need. “Adolescents tend to seek love where they can find it,” he wrote in one of the many articles he hoped to publish. “Lux confused the sexual act with love. For her, sex became a substitute for the comfort she needed as a result of her sister’s suicide.”

The lonely road of adolescence, wanting love and finding lust instead, or wanting love and having too much of it, that could have led to wanting own’s death. And how do obsessed male teenagers deal with the death of five rightfully happy and gorgeous teenagers? How does a peacefully, undisturbed village accept that one house is distraught and could plague the order they strive to keep?

There was guilt–consuming us to the point of self-destruction. We realize that our narrators, our story tellers are ghost of the five Lisbon sisters, and how everyone longs to escape the trauma and the seemingly contagious, addicting misery.

It’s no different with the girls. Hardly have we begun to participate their grief than we find ourselves considering whether this particular wound was mortal or not, or whether (in our blind doctoring) it’s a wound at all. It might just as well be a mouth, which is as wet and warm. The scar might be over the heart or the kneecap. We can’t tell. All we can do is groping up and the legs and arms, over the soft bivalvular torso, to the imagined face. It is speaking to us. But we can’t hear.

This may not be among my favorite sad novels. There was stress and guilt more than loneliness. There was the guilt of not participating in the society in the socially acceptable way, not by being creepy stalkers or by satisfying cravings in obsessive way, but by being present, and preferably being hopeful about life and stop entertaining thoughts of suicide.

Pardon the vanity. Say hello to the blogger’s face and to my favorite lines:

“There’s just memories now,” Chase Buell said sadly. “Time to write them off.” But ever as he uttered these words, he rebelled against them, as we all did.

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Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter, Michael J. White

I saw Weeping Underwater Looks a lot Like Laughter on the fiction must reads table in a local bookstore. I was intrigued with its cover and the very dramatic and long title. The blurb promises of a story of loving and losing each other. As seen in my, eherm, book choices, I am sucker for this type of stories–a love so consuming that self-destruction becomes inevitable. Sadly though, the book came up short of a few of my expectations.

Please stop pyschoanalyzing me at this moment [or please do, and email me what you can say].

First up, I like the three main characters in the novel. We have George Flynn who is new in town and is all sorts of awkward and then he meets this dreamy character of Emily Schell, the resident artsy chick of the school. Now, you have to know that this is my kind of peg. Awkward guy meets the hot chick, so you could pretty much say that I am inclined to like this novel from the very start, but somehow, despite the previous said emotional investment in the main characters, I lost hmm, interest as the Katie, Emily’s sister with multiple sclerosis, came into the picture. As said in the blurb, a big event will suddenly pull our characters into a downward spiral, and I had a hunch that this will involve the fragile sister of Emily. And huzzah, she drowned and died.

Suddenly everything just become too complicated and not to the point of thrilling complicated, but the annoying, suffocating type of conflicts. Since Katie’s death, it has come into the episodes that the blurb has promised–of nights in drugs and motels.

The call of live on run was as electrifying and fear-providing as a new life-altering drug.

They ran away and thought of ways to find themselves again, after the tragedy of Katie’s death. It could have been the epic road trip I was hoping for, but I have an unexplained annoyance with George and Emily’s character. I was guessing it was because of the too much avoidance of confrontations? The too much skittering? The chase of emotions that it had just become tiring, all of a sudden?

This is the part where I had my expectations fall. Like what I have said, I was excited to read the part wherein the two characters had to love and have sex and lose each other in the process of getting over the guilt and horrors of Katie’s death. But somehow, despite the predisposed liking to this part, I was bored and I found myself breezing through the passages and pages.

Everything felt stretched and forced, and I found no elevation of the pain and the self-destruction, which I was totally looking forward to! All the fondness I had for George and admiration for Emily turned to annoyance, and I pretty well wished this novel to end.

Ahhh, a crucial factor could also be that I had Looking for Alaska at the back of my mind while reading. While the two novels talked of different stories, I was looking for the same self-consuming guilt and the losing of the Emily and George, the same way Pudge and the rest of the gang had experienced when they lost Alaska.

I know it is probably a bad idea to have it compared to one of my favorite books, but the story had a ring to it, and as much as I tried to have it silenced while reading, everything rings a little louder as I write this.

I’m sorry, but I just didn’t like it, probably due to personal reasons, but to leave you with all these rants is just bad, so here is my favorite lines Michael J. White wrote for Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter:

In Iowa’s golden-tassel summer, Emily was a squinting cowgirl, deliciously cherry in the shoulders and the very tip of her nose and ears. From time to time she’d search with her big brown eyes and such guileless affection that I felt on the verge of crumbling to my knees and giving up every aspiration I’d ever known. She’d just stare, sometimes smiling and sometimes not, but in a way that made me feel she could see our entire futures.

The joys of young love.

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Who Else Had an Imaginary Friend?–Sundays at Tiffany’s

James Patterson has published quite a number of books already, and I understand that Sundays at Tiffany’s is his first book published on a new genre, but is this an excuse enough to cover the fact that it was badly written?

If there was one good thing that came out of reading this book was that I found out that I had an imaginary friend when I was a child. I only knew about this now that I am 21 years old, while my eldest brother was teasing me, which made Patterson’s claim that all children forget their imaginary friend into adulthood.

Jane Margaux had a lonely childhood. She spent her early years trailing behind her mother was either busy with their business or searching for the perfect husband. Michael made it all bearable for her. He was handsome, sweet, kind, and he made Jane feel special, until he left her when she turned nine just as all imaginary friends do. Jane was bound to forget him, Michael said. Only, she didn’t. Only, years after, they see each other again, and as before, it was as if they picked up where they last fell off.

Now, there was the premise of a beautiful love story, but it fell too short in inducing the warm fuzzy feeling it was supposed to give. At some point, it came a little too close to the movie City of Angels that I had to put it down and breath deeply to stop myself from ripping a page or two. It’s bad enough that I found the ending of that movie a little too stupid, but to have it read on a novel that I was developing a heavy dislike already is just too much.

Fine. I had high expectations with the novel, especially that it followed a Foer in my reading list. Foer had his amazing way with words and Patterson, well, narrated it well.

I had my chick lit phase in high school, and in no condescending manner, I liked it. I know for a fact that had I chosen to try and read a book of the same genre again, I might not go gaga over it, but I will rekindle that old flame with cheesy love stories again. I would have recognized that feeling again, but I felt nothing with Patterson.

The language was too bland. It lacked quite everything. I recognized the attempts to give off the warm feeling of love, but I kept looking for something else.

“Maybe beauty, true beauty is overwhelming , it goes straight to our hearts . Maybe it makes us feel emotions that are lacked away inside.” He blinked and give a bashful smile. “Sorry. I’ve been watching Oprah again.”

The problem with this is, I knew that this was the cue for that giggly moment. There was Michael, being cute and adorable, showing his sensitive side. It was the part wherein, had I seen the movie, it would focus on his handsome face breaking into a sly smile. I was supposed to squeak or produce some girly sound, but I didn’t.

Everything felt too orchestrated, or worse, too hard.

“What is happening to me?” he whispered. He’d cut himself shaving, knocked down  two guys in the same day (though both had deserved it), and now he was crying. In fact, and overwhelming sadness was overtaking him. So this is what sorrow feels like. This is the ache in the heart, the catch in the throat, that he had heard and read so much about.

The promise was there. I have vested interest in the novel, because for one, I had an imaginary friend whom I wish is a handsome guy, just in case I meet him again in the future; two, Jane is a playwright, and I think it’s awesome being a writer; three, a good friend has been lusting over the novel and I had this feeling that I would like this novel. All these were trampled over the fact that the only thing that I enjoyed in the novel was the asshole boyfriend of Jane, Hugh McGrath, who has to be one of the biggest asshole ever, I love him.

“Jane, I know we can be great again. I’ve got the ring, and you’ve got the movie. Let’s make a trade, sweetheart. Do we have a deal?”

That was the most ridiculous wedding proposal ever. I knew I had to hate the guts of the guy, but I’m sorry, he was a doll, and when he’s already my doll, I’d have him around me always and I shall pick an extremity that he has whenever I feel bad, since he deserved it for being such a jerk.

If it’s any consolation, I think Sundays at Tiffany’s won in inducing reactions in me, although they were never the proper reactions. Heh.

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