Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Books’

The Philippine Readers and Writers Festival presents Pulitzer winner Adam Johnson

August 25, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements, Books No Comments →


Tales of Mt Cloud: The Bookshop Ghost and the Crying Floor

August 22, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Places 1 Comment →


It took me an hour and a half to get to the bus station in Cubao from Makati (It wasn’t raining), and four hours to get to Baguio on the 10:15 express bus (no stops, snacks, washroom on board). As soon as we left Metro Manila I could feel an invisible iron band loosening around my head. That’s what living in Metro Manila is like: an iron band around your head, growing tighter and tighter. You’re so used to it, you don’t even know it’s there. Metro Manila is killing us.


Fifi, who runs Mt. Cloud Bookshop, had invited me to give a talk. I discussed my writing method (lots of doing apparently nothing) and read an excerpt from my novel. Mt. Cloud carries books about the Philippines, books by Filipino authors, and a smattering of other titles. It’s a charming two-storey shop, the kind that has a portal to another dimension, in the refurbished Casa Vallejo near the Session Road rotunda. The shop is packed with books, so events are held at the Cinematheque next door.


Like any self-respecting temple of literature, Mt. Cloud has a resident ghost. They call her Carmen, and she regularly pushes books onto the floor. One week Noli me tangere was on the floor, and the following week El Filibusterismo, so there is a theme to her picks. No one has seen the ghost, so she’s either antisocial or looks perfectly human and indistinguishable from the clients. Of course it could be an industrious mouse, whose hard work is callously attributed to the supernatural.


Apart from the ghost, the bookshop is haunted by the heartbroken. For some reason, people like to sit on the cushions on the second floor and have a good cry. I don’t mean silent tears rolling down their faces, I mean wailing and sobbing. Sometimes they don’t even get to the second floor, but sit on the stairs and start bawling. Maybe it’s because being surrounded by books is so comforting: all those alternate universes offering asylum.


Visit Mt. Cloud’s website.

Those who have left

August 16, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Cats, Cosmic Things 2 Comments →


Mat-Mat the Cat


Poem for when you can’t leave the house because it’s raining elephants

August 15, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 1 Comment →



There are vast differences between the UK and US editions of Cloud Atlas.

August 12, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books No Comments →


Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2004, Cloud Atlas is already complicated enough: telling the story of six interlocking lives and hopping back and forth across centuries and genres. But differences between the US and UK editions highlighted by Eve in a journal article published on Wednesday on the Open Library of Humanities run to 30 pages of examples.

In the UK text, for example, Mitchell writes at one point that: “Historians still unborn will appreciate your cooperation in the future, Sonmi ~451. We archivists thank you in the present. […] Once we’re finished, the orison will be archived at the Ministry of Testaments. […] Your version of the truth is what matters.”

In the US edition, the lines are: “On behalf of my ministry, thank you for agreeing to this final interview. Please remember, this isn’t an interrogation, or a trial. Your version of the truth is the only one that matters.”

Read it.

Hmmm. I read the British (Sceptre) paperback, gave it away, and got the American (Random House) trade edition. Now I have to get the British edition back.

To avoid confusion, print different versions in different fonts or colors.

Archaeologists unearth Tintagel Castle of Arthurian myth

August 12, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, History, Places No Comments →


The palace is just one of a dozen structures that ground penetrating radar surveys picked up on the Tintagel peninsula, some of which likely housed workman, soldiers and artists. Whoever lived in the main structure, however, lived a pretty glamorous lifestyle considering it was the dark ages. The researchers have evidence that they drank wine from the geographic area known as Turkey today, and used olive oil from the Greek Isles and Tunisia. They drank from painted glass cups from France and ate off plates from North Africa.

Read it.

If I remember my T.H. White (and Thomas Malory and Mary Stewart) correctly, Tintagel was the castle of Duke Gorlois of Cornwall, whose wife Igraine was coveted by Uther Pendragon. The obsessed King Uther Pendragon besieged the castle without success, so he resorted to magic. Merlin cast a spell that caused Uther to take on the form of Gorlois. Gorlois was lured out of the castle, whereupon Uther rode in and convinced Igraine he was her husband. Nine months later, Arthur was born and given to Sir Hector to raise as the boy “Wart”. No one but Merlin knew Wart’s real parentage until Wart came upon a sword stuck in a stone. . .

Later, Gorlois and Igraine’s daughter Morgause seduced Arthur and gave birth to the horrible Mordred, who would rebel against his father/uncle.

I try to read The Once and Future King every other year. My sister and I have memorized most of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so we can ward off boredom with phony French accents and the Camelot song.