Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Books’

The Stranger seen from the other side

June 29, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books No Comments →

The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud, Php555 at National Bookstores

Here at last is a retelling of an important novel from the perspective of another character, and if you were thinking Grey, the latest product for people who dream of getting chained, flogged and electrocuted in their privates by weird rich guys but would never actually do it, we are happy to disappoint you.

In The Stranger by Albert Camus, a novel we admire so much that a group of us translated it into Tagalog (See Camus in Tagalog, above), the protagonist Meursault shoots an Arab on the beach for no particular reason. The dead man doesn’t get a name or history, he’s just a corpse, a plot device to put Meursault in jail (and The Cure material for a song).

This first novel by Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud gives that man a name, a history, hopes and disappointments. It is narrated by the dead man’s brother, who sits in a bar night after night describing the murder and its aftermath. The very first line is a reply to Camus:

Mama’s still alive today.


Other famous novels reimagined from a different character’s POV: The Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys’s take on Jane Eyre as told by the first Mrs Rochester; The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (The Odyssey); and we’re sure you’ll remind us of the others.

Garage of Dreams

June 22, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Cats, Childhood, Design No Comments →


In a repurposed garage in a city not very far away (Cebu), Johanna Velasco Deutsch, Mark Deutsch and their team make stuff.


Such as their rendition of a certain seat of power. Instead of swords melted by dragonfire and surfaces so sharp they caused the derrieres of kings to bleed, they fashioned a comfy chair from old action figures, toy cars, Lego bricks, Viewmasters, and plastic animals.


They do animation, design, illustration, painting, sculpture, toys and photography. Coming up: an alphabet book in Bisaya.


Under the glass are 364 pictures they took, one a day, for a year.


They pay tribute to our feline overlords and encourage people to drink better coffee. Their work is delightful without being self-consciously cute.

Visit them at Happy You can also check out their work for the Four Seasons Marrakesh and Raffles Seychelles.

James Salter has died.

June 20, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 1 Comment →

James Salter, TNY
Salter, at left, in Korea in 1952, with other members of the 335th Fighter Squadron, the inspiration for his first novel, “The Hunters.” James Low, next to him, was the model for the book’s villain.

James Salter has died. He was 90. He did everything, so no sadness. He did not like sentimentality.

Here’s a profile of Salter from The New Yorker two years ago.

Salter aspires, in his life and his work, to an absence of sentimentality, a worldliness and unflappability that he associates with the French—Gide, Genet, Céline, Colette. He admires the Japanese, and Babel and Gogol, Dinesen and Duras. Robert Ginna once said of him, citing Graham Greene, “The writer must have a tiny sliver of ice in his heart.” This perhaps accounts for his habit of taking notes on the people around him, even good friends. “It makes people nervous sometimes,” Peter Matthiessen told me. “You see him writing away under the table.”

Read his Paris Review interview.

Bibliotherapy: Mommy issues, daddy issues, having no issues

June 17, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 4 Comments →

Installation of 4,000 books, by Anouk Kruithof in Bookshelf Porn

In which we suggest novels for readers’ situations.

cjspotless: I get mad easily. I think my hatred for my mom and how she treated me while I was growing up is fueling this anger. It’s not affecting people around me, my work, or the people I love, but I tend to burst from time to time.

Rx: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson. For movies, we recommend Hitchcock’s Psycho and Brian De Palma’s Carrie.

maelynda: Famished, mad, penniless. Been searching for ATM that is not offline, heat index almost 50 Celsius.

Rx: That’s easy: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Raskolnikov is starving, mad, penniless, it’s stifling in St Petersburg in the summer and he starts thinking he’s the ubermensch.

top51: Feeling antsy. A lot of things are going on but do these matter in the grand scheme of things?

Rx: A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. The world is on the brink of war, and Paddy has been expelled from school for holding hands with a grocer’s daughter. (If it had been a duke’s daughter, he probably would not have been.) He starts cramming for university exams then he goes, “What the hell, I think I’ll walk across Europe from Holland to Turkey.”

Alunsina: Burnout from corporate day job

Rx: Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris; Money by Martin Amis; Other People’s Money by Justin Cartwright; Capital by John Lanchester.

sizzlingsuzie: Daddy issues

Rx: Iphigenia in Aulis by Euripides; Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan; Emma by Jane Austen (or watch Clueless again).

The Game of Thrones Support Group is in session.

June 16, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Television 2 Comments →

We like the samurai influence on Jon’s armor.

If you have not finished watching season 5 of Game of Thrones, step away from this page right now.

Another season, another stack of obituaries from the TV series that delights in putting its audience through the emotional wringer. In reviewing each season, the question that should be asked is: Was it worth the pain of watching (name the late character you’d grown fond of) die and (other characters you root for) suffer? The answer is always No, but for some reason we keep on watching.

Our review of Season 5 appears on Friday at BusinessWorld.

Distraught? Need to talk? See you in Comments.

* * * * *

Our Season 5 Awards:

Worst Performances

Indira Varma as Ellaria Sand: Full-on Bella Flores.

Rosabell Laurenti Sellers as Tyene Sand: It didn’t help that she had to recite the single worst line in the entire series.

The kid who plays Olly: Every single time he appeared, he had a look of “Papatayin kita!” Yeah, we got it the first ten times.

Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton: A one-note monster, uses the same wide-eyed tricks on Vicious.

Best Performances

Lena Headey as Cersei: Actually made us feel bad for Cersei. At her lowest, was most queenly.

Stephen Dillane as Stannis Baratheon: Actually made us feel bad for Stannis, even when he allowed that horror.

Drogon says the Best Actor of Season 5 is Drogon.

Best Musical Performance

Jerome Flynn as Bronn: Relieved the tedium of the Dorne scenes.

Runner-up: Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Mace Tyrell, bursting into song in Braavos.

Worst Writing

All the scenes in Dorne

The recap in the Throne Room in Meereen

Varys reappears – But we’re glad to see him, so we’ll let that pass.


The assassination in Julius Caesar

The death of Richard III

Almost forgot: The Wire (Omar).

Chinatown. “You’re my uncle. And my father. And my uncle. And my father.” Nosebleed. End.

Punishment that should be instituted in the Philippines

Have corrupt politicians walk naked and barefoot from Congress to the Senate with a septa following them, ringing a bell and crying, “Shame! Shame!”

Your nominees in Comments.

Since there’s no release date for The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in A Song of Ice and Fire, we expect that everyone will reread A Dance With Dragons and even the previous books very closely for clues.

So the series has moved past the books, but continues to sell the earlier books. GRRM wins.

Saffy is 15! Today she is The Oracle and Dispenser of Books

June 15, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Cats 24 Comments →


Happy Birthday, Saffy!

Today Saffy will listen to your questions, petitions, and dilemmas and dispense her wisdom. Post your issues in Comments.

She will also give books to those who post questions, petitions and dilemmas that amuse her.

She has spoken. Incidentally Saffy speaks in the third person, unlike her human who speaks in the first person plural.

Warning: Saffy is not polite like Mat or friendly like Drogon. Saffy is close to 90 in cat years so basically she doesn’t give a crap.

saffy shelf

Update: Saffy is through answering your questions. If you posted a question that she answered and have already disinfected your scratches, email by Sunday, 21 June 2015 to claim your book.