Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Books’

Do you have a question for Amy Tan?

October 20, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 4 Comments →

Photo from

The esteemed author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning and The Valley of Amazement will appear at the Philippine Literary Festival on Friday, 24 October, at 130pm. We’re hosting the forum with Amy Tan at the Raffles Hotel.

Do you have a question for Amy Tan? If you don’t mind our asking it for you, post it in Comments.

Whoever posts the question we like the most gets a copy of The Valley of Amazement in paperback.

For more information on the Philippine Literary Festival, visit their website.

The original vampire, the height of charm, and the emotional support animal con

October 17, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Cats, Clothing, Current Events 3 Comments →

Links we like:

Lord Byron: Not just Byronic, vampiric

John Polidori was the personal physician to George Gordon, Lord Byron. Byron was often horrible to him. Polidori felt his famous client was sucking the life out of him, so he wrote The Vampyre in 1819 (Dracula by Bram Stoker was published in 1897). Read The Poet, The Physician, and The Birth of the Modern Vampire.

In Italy, people who wear glasses are called quattr’occhi (four eyes). Angelo Flaccavento finds glass-wearing individuals to be the height of elegance and charm. We don’t know how true that is, but we like to think so. Thanks to Lali for the link.


In America, people can take their pets everywhere by flashing a card claiming that they are “emotional support animals”. This is an insult to our cats, who regard us as their emotional support animal. Read the hilarious investigative report by Patricia Marx. In the photo above, she tests the emotional support card by taking an alpaca to the drugstore.

The Bone Clocks now ticking in bookstores

October 16, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books No Comments →

Hardcover, Php1199 at National Bookstores

David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks is finally in stores. There are limited copies, though, so if you want the hardcover, hurry.

As we predicted, The Bone Clocks didn’t make the Booker longlist. The Booker Prize went to Australian author Richard Flanagan for The Narrow Road to the Deep North, a novel about the prisoners of war who were put to work constructing the Burma railway. (Yes, that railway in The Bridge on the River Kwai with Alec Guinness and the recent The Railway Man with Colin Firth.) Here’s an excerpt.

The title of Flanagan’s novel is borrowed from the 17th century Japanese poet Basho’s most famous work, a travelogue in haiku. The opening lines from Basho:

Days and months are travellers of eternity. So are the years that pass by. Those who steer a boat across the sea, or drive a horse over the earth till they succumb to the weight of years, spend every minute of their lives travelling. There are a great number of ancients, too, who died on the road. I myself have been tempted for a long time by the cloud-moving wind — filled with a strong desire to wander.

It was only towards the end of last autumn that I returned from rambling along the coast. I barely had time to sweep the cobwebs from my broken house on the River Sumida before the New Year, but no sooner had the spring mist begun to rise over the field than I wanted to be on the road again to cross the barrier-gate of Shirakawa in due time. The gods seem to have possessed my soul and turned it inside out, and roadside images seemed to invite me from every corner, so that it was impossible for me to stay idle at home. Even while I was getting ready, mending my torn trousers, tying a new strap to my hat, and applying moxa to my legs to strengthen them, I was already dreaming of the full moon rising over the islands of Matsushima. Finally, I sold my house, moving to the cottage of Sampû for a temporary stay. Upon the threshold of my old home, however, I wrote a linked verse of eight pieces and hung it on a wooden pillar. The starting piece was:

Behind this door
Now buried in deep grass,
A different generation will celebrate
The Festival of Dolls.

Translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa. Read 9 Translations of the Opening Paragraph.

Two of Mitchell’s novels are set in Japan, so there’s the connection.

Confessions of a Bibliophibian

October 14, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 15 Comments →

This is where the word bibliophibian comes from.

We define bibliophibian as an organism that can live in the real world and in books but confuses the two.

* * * * *

Remember, it’s not them, it’s us.

1. We don’t love the novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Like everyone else, we read One Hundred Years of Solitude in college and admired it then, mostly because people kept telling us how great it was.

There is no photo because we don’t know where our copy is, or even if we still have it.

2. We’ve never finished a novel by Javier Marias, and not from lack of trying.

3. We’ve never finished Moby Dick, but we got halfway through by downloading the Big Read featuring Tilda Swinton, Benedict Cumberbatch and others reading the chapers.

4. We’ve never finished a book by Haruki Murakami, and not for lack of trying.

5. We like the stories of Vladimir Nabokov, but we read Lolita out of a sense of obligation.

6. We’ve never gotten past page 100 of In Search of Lost Time, but we still think we’ll get around to it.

Funny glasses, about Php70 each, from the Halloween costume section of National Bookstore.

Confess and be absolved!

Modiano has won the Nobel Prize for Literature

October 10, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 1 Comment →

Reuters photo from Buzzfeed

Confession: We’ve never read Patrick Modiano. Or heard of him.

Good thing we didn’t put money on the bookies’ perennial favorite Haruki Murakami.

Another year, another non-win for Philip Roth.

From the Guardian:

Patrick Modiano has been named the 107th winner of the Nobel prize for literature.

The 69-year-old is the 11th French writer to win the prestigious prize, worth 8m kronor ($1.1m or £700,000).

His name was announced at a short ceremony in Stockholm with Peter Englund, the Nobel Academy’s permanent secretary, reading a citation which said Modiano won “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation”.

Modiano is well known in France but something of an unknown quantity for even widely read people in other countries. His best known novel is probably Missing Person, which won the prestigious Prix Goncourt in 1978 and is about a detective who loses his memory and endeavours to find it.

Continue reading

Key books, chosen by Rupert Thomson

1. La Place de l’Etoile, 1968
This semi-autobiographical first novel made an immediate impact with its story of the repercussions of anti-semitism in France in the second world war.

2. Rue des boutiques obscures (Missing Person) 1978
An existential tale about a detective who has lost his memory, which won Modiano the Prix Goncourt.

3. Voyage des Noces (The Honeymoon) 1990
Novel filling in the gaps left by the disappearance of Dora Bruder (see below)

4. Dora Bruder, 1997
Research, speculation and imagination combine in the story of a Jewish girl who went missing during the Occupation of France.

5. Un Pedigree (A Pedigree), 2005
The story of Modiano’s own life up until his 21st year.

And a Nobel Prize judge says, Creative writing courses are killing western literature.

Every movie we see #102: The message of Gone Girl is, Don’t get married.

October 09, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies 2 Comments →

If you’re holding a press conference to ask people for information on your missing wife, remember not to smile.

Gone Girl by David Fincher is about a missing persons case that exposes the worst in everyone: the suspect, the media, the audience, the victim herself. The one person who seems trustworthy is the celebrity lawyer who specializes in defending sleazebags, and that’s because he knows exactly what he is. Everyone thinks they’re the good guy, and the harder they try to convince us of their goodness, the more awful we think they are. If you’re looking for something to affirm your faith in human nature, do not go near this movie. If you want an absorbing entertainment in which the violence simmers just below the surface from beginning to end, Gone Girl is for you.

Read our review at