1. The Devil in the Philippines by Isabelo de los Reyes, translated by Benedict Anderson et al. A comic tale by the first Filipino folklorist, first published in 1886.
2. The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq. The professional troublemaker whose latest novel Submission is set in a near-future in which France is an Islamic state. Map is the life story of a successful artist who manages not to connect with any human beings in his lifetime. The prose isn’t beautiful, but his brutal representation of the world we live in is so compelling and often funny, we had to see it through.
3. Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis. Precise, sly, profound, no filler. Her stories may consist of five sentences, sometimes just one, but they’re not snacks, they’re full meals.
4. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. In 1958 the surviving members of the original Victorian crew of famous fictional characters recruited by Britain’s secret secret intelligence service obtain a dossier from a certain famous spy who likes his martinis shaken and not stirred. The file is a collection of literary parodies, in comics and in straight prose, featuring Virginia Woolf’s gender-shifting Orlando, Swift’s Gulliver, Fanny Hill and others.
It’s a hoot, but the report “written” by P.G. Wodehouse’s lovable dolt Bertram Wooster is not convincing at all. It doesn’t have the lightness, silliness, or the effortless wordplay—it lands with a thud. On the other hand, it comes with cardboard 3D glasses for the last chapter.
5. Tabi Po volume 2 by Mervin Malonzo. The continuation of the ambitious retelling of Noli Me Tangere, with the vital addition of aswang. The atmosphere is so thick with foreboding, not to mentioned blood and guts, that it tends to overwhelm the other elements. Not for the faint-hearted.
6. The Red Cavalry stories by Isaac Babel. We’re discussing Emergency (from Jesus’s Son) by Denis Johnson in our writing workshop, and we found out that Johnson disparages his own stories as ripoffs of Babel’s Red Cavalry. So we had to look up Red Cavalry. “The orange sun is rolling across the sky like a severed head.”
Drogon takes a nap, exhausted from trying to distract his human from reading.