Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Books’

Notes from the Uncool # 1

July 22, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books No Comments →



Scenes from the history of medicine

July 18, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Books, History No Comments →


The Wellcome Library, London has made a thousand years of historical images relating to the history of medicine available free to the public.

Images from Wellcome Library, London

For news on works of art, music and literature in the public domain, visit The Public Domain Review.

The Pinoy-ness of Crime and Punishment

July 17, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies No Comments →

We hope you, your animals, and your trees are all right after Typhoon Glenda, which left vast swaths of Metro Manila looking like a botanical apocalypse.

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norte 4
Watch Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian: Why Norte, The End of History is the one film you should watch this week.

From reading so many reviews of Norte in the American and British media (Best blurb so far, from Time Out London: “The summer movie equivalent of the World Cup Final”), all of which mention Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, we had to read C&P again.

We have not read Crime and Punishment in a decade, but we remember being struck by the Pinoy-ness of it: the self-pitying and self-dramatizing, the sudden bursts of violence and the random bursts of goodness. Why should we care so much about these drunken, mad, feverishly overthinking, neurotic perhaps schizophrenic, strangely sympathetic characters? Because if we can understand them, maybe we can understand ourselves.

It’s not an easy read. Periodically one feels like throwing this doorstop-sized book at its author and its many characters with names that take days to pronounce. You do not read Dostoevsky to escape from the mayhem of life, but to drown in it.

And from reading Crime and Punishment, we want to watch Norte again.

(Is Norte eligible for the Oscars? It would have to be selected by the Film Academy as the official Philippine entry. To be eligible for consideration, the film needs a commercial theatrical run of at least one week.)

Some years ago Penguin put out great novels with blank covers so you could make your own.

to be continued

At least they could’ve used real books.

July 11, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Cats, Design, Places No Comments →

Photo by Juan Chua

At the W Hotel in Hong Kong, the design theme is “library”. This makes it difficult to locate the buttons for the elevator. Oh sorry, the lift.


The books, though, are fake. Used books (which can be bought by the meter) would probably have been cheaper than fake books, but they’re harder to dust.

Ask this cat at a book stall in C.M. Recto.

Recto cat 1
Photo by Uro dela Cruz

The July LitWit Challenge: Write a Colonial Revenge Fantasy

July 09, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Contest, History No Comments →

Indios in Paris, photo at the National Historical Commission

Some time ago, we wrote a column in which we pointed out that since our economy is doing better than Spain’s, it is time to buy Spain or at least hire domestic helpers who are Spanish. It would not make up for the abuses of the Spanish colonial regime, but it would be an arresting symbol, not to mention a hoot.

- YƱaki, dalhin mo dito ang tsinelas ko!
- Si, su majestad, heto na po an tsinelas, ano pa po an maipaqlilinqod qo?

The other day at lunch we noticed that our server was Portuguese, which means our idea is not just feasible, it is coming to pass. At the time the Philippines was “discovered” by Magellan, Spain and Portugal had “divided” the world amongst themselves.

This month’s LitWit Challenge: Write us a story, play or movie scene in which a Filipino employer interacts with Spanish domestic helper/s or yaya. No limits on length. Post your entry in Comments on or before 18 July 2014. The winner gets these books by the acclaimed Spanish author Javier Marias.


Read the review of his latest book, The Infatuations.

The LitWit Challenge is brought to you by National Bookstores.

See you at our pop-up book-signing with Drogon at Cibo Rockwell tomorrow

July 04, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Cats, Projects No Comments →


Buy your copies of The Stories So Far (fiction, hardcover, Php399) and Geeks Vs Jocks (essays, hardcover, Php399) at the Library of Babel online store, or right at the venue, Cibo on the third floor of Power Plant Mall in Rockwell, Makati. We’ll be signing books from 2pm to 4pm.

Get the special price of Php699 if you buy both books.

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Drogon Q&A

Q. You’re an all-white cat with blue eyes. Are you deaf?
A. Ask me again and I’ll bite your face off.
Q. Can we have our picture taken with you?
A. Yes, but don’t attempt to touch me because if I take a sudden dislike to you I may bite your face off. My designated yayas will be there to hold me for photos.
Q. What are your hobbies?
A. Grooming and chasing my toys.
Q. Do you have any messages from your human?
A. Don’t ask her how she is. She knows that you are concerned and mean well and thanks you for it, but she is tired of answering questions about her health. It has been a month since she left the hospital. If she weren’t feeling all right, she would not be having a book-signing.
Q. Where are you from?
A. Duh, Old Valyria.
Q. Shouldn’t you be named Viserion since you are creamy white?
A. Who wants to be named after that wuss?
Q. Will your human be doing other book-signings?
A. Maybe, maybe not. To be sure, attend her talks at the Ayala Museum.