Thursday, June 20, 2013

This felt very detached

I seldom write about books that I don't like or about those which leave no impression at all after reading them. What's the use of talking about these books, no? Besides, negativity is so wrinkle inducing.

But I feel that I need to say my piece about Cyan Abad-Jugo's book, Salingkit: A 1986 Diary. It's one of two books for discussion this month for the book club; I wouldn't want to railroad the discussion with my thoughts, if I want to get out of it alive.

For one, the main character, a girl in senior high school named Kitty Eugenio, is just ordinary, probably too ordinary for my taste. If I wanted ordinary, I wouldn't look for it in a book. I'll just talk to my nieces. They probably have more interesting things going on in their lives right now.

So this ordinary girl has ordinary friends, who seem to speak in one voice. Kit's friends are your cookie cutter lovesick and hormone-pumped teenagers. And the dialogue is very unnatural that I actually cringed in some parts. It's like a badly written episode from the Disney Channel.

It's too unfortunate that Kitty comes off as being ordinary as she is living in an extraordinary time. It's 1986, the year when the Philippines went through a peaceful revolution, forcing the dictatorial President Marcos into exile. But the book did include a story line about Kit finding herself smack in the middle of a coup d'├ętat, while hoping to speak to a general who can probably help find her father. (You see, Kit's father, a political activist, has been missing for several years and is probably one of the thousands killed during the repressive regime of the Marcoses.) Unfortunately, that story line felt flat and went nowhere.

I think that another reason that I didn't take to the book is the music references. All the mentions of 80s music by bands such as Duran Duran and Depeche Mode are lost on me. I never liked DD and DM. I didn't care too much about their trippy music and how their many songs feel and sound the same. But the 80s gave us U2 and R.E.M., and for that I will be forever grateful to this decade. (Michael Stipe is a god.)

I'll probably just keep mum during the book discussion. I was told that there would be cake. And my copy of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way is begging for my attention.

Read this book if:
  1. 80s music is your thing. Big hair! Shoulder pads! Metallic accessories!
  2. Fictional memoirs are your thing.
  3. Cassette tapes were your thing.


Jack said...

I hear you, brother! I, too, don't like to go negative on books or movies. I barely have enough bandwidth to share my excitement with my friends over the good stuff, and anyway, I'm no judge to say someone's hard work is lousy just because I don't like it... But sometimes, something is just so bad that you feel your role as a friend is to warn those who haven't had it inflicted on them yet. It's too bad in this case, because it sounds like, having chosen to include a personal contact with the downfall of Marcos, that the author would have been better served mining that rich vein; could have been sort of a Filipino Winds of War. Sad how close some people come to greatness, and still miss the mark. Their headstones could read, "Awww, too bad!"

Take care of yourself, brother, and keep enjoying the ride!

Peter S. said...

Hello, Jack! Wonderful comment!

I get what you mean! This book had so much potential.