Wednesday, May 19, 2010

top-of-the-head response to a novel: ilustrado by miguel syjuco

After an arduous read, I've finished Ilustrado, the Man Asia Literary Prize Winning novel by Filipino writer Miguel “Chuck” Syjuco, in two weeks. Yes, arduous because the work is a compendium of fragmented pieces of prose, contemporary or not: newspaper articles, interviews, blog comments, short story and novel excerpts, and even text messages. And yes, two weeks, because I read slow. And I have a day job. With that being said, I am surprisingly entertained by its chatty, sometimes lyrical tone, with words I do not even think are present in my dictionary.

But that was it: just entertained. The wide scope of sociopolitical-family drama carefully set up in the beginning, along with the needed nuances of humor snippets in between, did not pull in that much gratifying denouement. I closed the book and, like everyone else who read it first, said: “Now what?!”

It dawned on me that if I would like to be entertained, I would grab an Archie Comics digest or, to be more Filipinized, the latest compilation of Kikomachine comic strips by Manix Abrera. But I did not pull from the shelf either of the two. I picked up Ilustrado. I am not sure; maybe I am just expecting something grander, something more revolutionary than that epilogue. Or maybe I love it very much I do not want to see/feel the literariness stumble in the end. Then again, I am not the author. Go purchase the book, Philippine literature needs your insight. Have your own reaction.


Graphic Designer said...

You just can't resist the unconventional.

julian said...

Thanks for the review. I've been wanting to get a copy of this book. Maybe on payday. :)

f. jordan said...

@Graphic Designer: True. Anything with “newness,” or a touch of it, always catches my attention.

@Julian: Oh, I can’t really call this a review. As what I’ve said, this is merely taken from the top of my head. You know, like the very first cloud of steam coming out of the kettle’s spout? Still, you’re welcome.