For readers unfamiliar with Filipino fiction, though, the most welcome discoveries in Cecilia Manguerra Brainard's selection here will probably be the stories by Veronica Montes and Dean Francis Alfar. In "My Father's Tattoo," Montes tracks the story of a couple's tense relationship through the eyes of their daughter. Her prose is rich in wry, telling details, from "the young artist" who "surrounded it [the problematic tattoo of the title] with elegant curlicues at no extra charge" to the little verbal game the girl plays with her father to the conversation that the girl's father and uncle have when they go to wake her up from a nap. It closes with a moment of uncertainty that tips over into resolution with just the right light touch.
Hey, thanks! This, of course, piqued my curiosity: has anyone else commented on one of my stories? This review of Philippine Speculative Fiction 5 offered up little 2- or 3-sentence observations on each of the stories in the collection. Here's what the reviewer had to say about mine:
Part-coming-of-age story and part old wives’ folk tale, Veronica Montes’ "The Left-Behind Girl" is a wonderful exposition into a town’s beguiling mysteries that echoes southern gothic sensibilities and thickly veiled dream states. The story, however, is short and it leaves you wanting for more.
It made me laugh because my stories are forever too short. And also: southern gothic? Who knew?! Further googling unearthed a mention of my story, "Bernie Aragon, Jr. Looks for Love," in an academic article from Dance Research Journal. Written by Lucy Mae San Pablo Burns, it's titled, "'Splendid Dancing': Filipino 'Exceptionalism' in Taxi Dancehalls." I wish I could read it, but it's one of those sites that requires a subscription.
And then I said to myself, "That's enough self-googling for you, young lady."
In other literary news, I am reading with Barbara Jane Reyes and Maiana Minahal at Eastwind Books in Berkeley in October 16th. Stop by! Complete information here.