Saturday, January 16, 2010

Growing Up Filipino II Book Launch Report

The silence here at Nesting Ground has been deafening, but not as deafening as the rain on my windows in the middle of the night. The endless gloom is causing me to shriek ridiculous things like, "I come from island people!" or "My kingdom for a golf umbrella!" But with all that's going on in the world, I am quick to bite my ridiculous tongue.

It's always hard to get going after a week-long blogging absence, but for my purposes, last Saturday's Growing Up Filipino II (pick up your copy here or at any of your favorite online bookstores) reading is a logical place to start. First there was a little bit of nail-biting surrounding the question of whether or not Marianne (whose husband gallantly agreed to drive her into his city with his reliable—as opposed to her unreliable—car) and Tony (who cruised in Filipino-time on his eco-friendly bike) would, in fact, dazzle us with their appearance. I'm sure everyone was as happy as I was when they walked through the door.

It was a pleasure to meet Rashaan and listen to her read from her story, "Here In the States." It's about a young girl coming to terms with the changes that immigration has created in her family dynamic. I was surprised to see later on her Facebook page that reading makes Rashaan super nervous, as she did a perfect job. I know her story is going to resonate with a lot of young Filipinos. You can read a short excerpt here.

Tony was next, and the guy is so damn funny. In his piece, "Son of a Janitor," he reflects on what he's learned from his father's work which is, as it turns out, more than he ever learned in high school or college. I think I've said before how much I admire Tony's style of reading. He has a way of making things conversational, of just...connecting. He says he's almost done with his novel; I can't wait to take a look.

Marianne is so very Marianne: quirky, self-effacing, and—let's just face it—a brilliant writer. I love her supernatural stuff (have you read her story, "The Hand"?). The story in the anthology, "Black Dog," is from her first story collection, Ginseng and Other Tales from Manila, and it holds you in thrall until the final sentence. Think: the witches of Aklan, the creepy mangkukulam, a grisly murder, a weary judge.

I realize now it's been some time since I read my work in front of an audience. And I was especially nervous because the spousal unit brought the kids, and there were two places in my story where the language was not ideal for very young ears. My story includes the word "tits," for example. Twice. And also, "goddamn." As it turns out, I stopped reading before I reached the tits-and-goddamn parts, because a voice in my head said, "Perhaps you are taxing the courtesy of this audience; stop reading now." Anyways, mission accomplished with (I think) just one stumble.

I so appreciate PAWA and Arkipelago Books and their joint reading series. Barbara Jane was there, of course, and she has comments here. I only have two pictures, and I'll share them with you. Here I am with Oscar (recently featured here at Oakland Local! Supahstah!) and Sunny, who finally signed my copy of his Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City:

Speaking of Daly City, here are two friends I grew up with there, Yamila and Karen. How sweet was it of them to come? Super sweet:

And that's my report. Thanks for reading!


Marianne said...

My dear, that last picture looks like you are a member of the Supremes. The Filipino Supremes! You all look great!

I meant to tell you after the reading that your story was gorgeous and I sooo loved it. Sorry I had to dash off, but was with hubby.

You are right about Tony and his way of connecting with an audience. His entire reading had me in stitches, from first to last.

And Rashaan! What can I say about Rashaan. She was a revelation.

Am so truly grateful to Cecilia for putting together such an outstanding collection.

phyllis said...

Vero - I am so sorry I missed the book launch. Sounded like a great afternoon. You are such an inspiration and your girls must be so proud! You look fab in the photos - you are glowing! Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

ver said...

Marianne, your husband was such a good sport. And I forgot to mention you were so cute in your pink coat!

Phyllis, you are a sweetheart. Thank you!

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Jill said...

Sorry I missed the reading. We were away. Sounds like it went well. How cool that your girls got to see/hear you.

ver said...

Hi Jill! I was pleasantly surprised by the kids; they were really good audience members. I'll drag you along to the next one!