Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Books’

Alan Hollinghurst’s The Sparsholt Affair is his warmest, funniest novel, and a masterpiece.

January 19, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: Books No Comments →

If you can’t wait till it appears in local bookstores, it’s available at online bookstores.

My friend and I have this game in which we cast the roles in a film adaptation.

“Armie Hammer as David Sparsholt.”
“Too American. Henry Cavill.”
“Armie can learn a British accent.”
“Henry is already British.”
And so on.

When you wish for a normal life and realize it doesn’t exist

January 05, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 3 Comments →


I’ve just reread Reine Melvin’s short story collection, A Normal Life, and was floored all over again. The writing is exquisite, the stories intense: she fillets her characters with a very fine blade. Most of the stories happen in the Philippines in the late 80s, and the revolutions and coups that were occurring at the time are not nearly as emotional as what her fictional people go through.

A Normal Life is now available at the Ateneo Press bookstore and at Loyola Bookshop. Call (02) 441 0854 to order copies. The book will also be available at mall bookstores, but why wait.

100 Favorite Books, 2018 edition

January 02, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 6 Comments →

100 Books, 2018 edition
(authors listed in alphabetical order)
The Oresteia, Aeschylus
Without Feathers, Woody Allen
Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
The Collected Poems of W.H. Auden
Persuasion, Jane Austen
SPQR, Mary Beard
Stalingrad, Antony Beevor
HHhH, Laurent Binet
The Decameron, Boccacio
Any Human Heart, William Boyd
Possession, A.S. Byatt
The Baron in the Trees, Italo Calvino
The Outsider, Albert Camus
Burning Your Boats, The Collected Short Stories, Angela Carter
Love in a Fallen City, Eileen Chang
Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang

Reading is not a vice; fake-complaining about all the books I have to read is the vice.

December 20, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 6 Comments →

Reading has been called the solitary vice (a title it shares with the more obvious one). I think the real vice that readers enjoy is fake-complaining about how many books we have in our backlog, how the stack of unread books on the bedside table grows higher and higher, and how half the floor has disappeared under unread books. This fake-complaining is really boasting: I have so many books to read, I can ward off boredom AND avoid pointless social media battles! Plus: I grabbed the last copy before you did, nyahahaa.

These are the books that will occupy me in the coming months. I would like to declare a moratorium on book-buying, but why would I do that to myself? Why would I deprive myself of this pleasure when there’s so much heinousness in the world? Also I just ordered something from Book Depository.

I am currently reading Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marias. I bought the book from Shakespeare & Co to keep from hearing the poetry reading upstairs and laughing maniacally. (Never take me to a poetry reading. No matter how good the stuff is, when the reader puts on the “poet” voice my eyeballs start rolling. I like poems read conversationally.) This is my umpteenth attempt to read Marias (the digressions exhausted me) but I think I finally get it.

Books of the Year, Angus Miranda’s pick: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

December 17, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books No Comments →

Galignani Bookstore in Paris, two or three blocks from the Louvre

Reader: Angus Miranda

My favorite book this year is Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. How predictable! Isn’t this the recent winner of the Man Booker Prize? Shouldn’t Americans be banned from the Booker? (I said that — JZ) And haven’t there been enough books about Lincoln? Not enough, for sure, especially about Lincoln mourning the death of his son, Willie.

The night of Willie’s death, a state dinner is held. The Civil War is yet to begin. Many historians attend the dinner. In their accounts, they offer competing opinions on every available perspective at the event, from the perfunctory smiles of Lincoln and his wife, the inappropriateness of the dinner, to the color of the moon (was there even a moon at all?).

ProBernal AntiBio is the best Filipino film book of the year, maybe of all time

December 12, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies No Comments →

I got my copy from Butch Perez at lunchtime, opened to page 1, and did not stop reading until I finished the whole book. So no work was done today, and it was a day very well spent.

Intelligent, wicked, sometimes vicious (Bernal did not spare anyone, especially himself), this anti-biography is presented as a wide-ranging conversation between filmmaker Ishmael Bernal and his closest friend, the scholar and screenwriter Jorge Arago. Mercifully many of Bernal’s targets are long-dead, because he murders them.