Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Lost Language by Marianne Villanueva

(In which home is still the best place.)

Reading Villanueva’s The Lost Language reminds me of the days when my classes in the university had at least two hours interval and I had to sit in the library throughout the entire period to pass the time. It felt good to pick up a small book and finish it. I especially love compilations – short stories, one-act plays, poems about the darkness of Manila and the backwardness of the provinces. Yes, Villanueva brought them all back. And then some.

What I like about the stories was the distinct Filipino feeling about almost everything. It felt as though I flew to America and witnessed another tale of another brave Filipino immigrant in a cruel city. The familiarity made me feel at home but unfortunately gave some stories a cliché mood. And the normality of a dysfunctional Filipino family, as believed by a character, lingers in my thoughts as I flipped the pages and jumped from one story to another.

Yes, jumped. There are some easy reads. But most of the time I find it hard to grasp the way a part of the story leads to another. And some endings were so abrupt that the feeling of finality was lost.

However, though I jumped from one story to another, I should say that when it comes to the characters, I glided – for the characters in The Lost Language share the complexities of the mind of people in a tormenting atmosphere intensified by pressure and loss.

I believe that there should be a good time for reading a certain book. In the case of The Lost Language, I couldn't say that it’s for either a sunny or a rainy day. The bitterness of it would break hearts during the former and make past wounds fresh and deeper in the latter. But if there’s a time when one wishes to see real life and feelings unfold as one searches for or looks back at the silent traces of his or her being Filipino, this book is a must read.

Photo SourceThe Lost Language