Though I’ve started a book club with a couple of friends on Facebook, I’ve recently decided to finish my own personal list which has been put off far too long (there is a shelf on my book shelf specifically for books I still need to read — that bad!).
I’ve realized that while writing I need to return my voracious appetite for consuming literature, regain my appreciation and love for writing the seamless dream of fiction and non-fiction, gritty and surreal, across multiple genres.
My first book:
American Son — a novel by Brian Ascalon Roley (by recommendation of my sister)
217 pages, a fast read, I finished the novel in two days. The story of two Filipino brothers, Tomas and Gabe, who live in a seedy area of 1993 LA with their single Filipina mother trying desperately to make ends meet while raising two boys.
Tomas, the older brother, has fallen in line with a gang of Mexicans and raising prize attack dogs for people who find them trendy. Gabe, somewhat of a mama’s boy, does what he can to get by while trying to understand his Filipino-American identity during his tumultuous teenage years in caste-zoned LA.
I found this novel to be a sincere story that resonates with my own experiences as a Filipino immigrant. A great deal of the scenes are hauntingly familiar to my own memories and I found myself easily identifying with the main protagonist (Gabe) and his “ne’er-do-well sibling”, Tomas. The interactions between the immigrant, Americanized children, and people in privileged positions, is as surprising and heartbreaking as I know it to be in life.
A note on the writing, the author uses no quotations (in the same fashion as Cormac McCarthy) and allows the story and characters to speak for themselves without the traditionally tagging the speaker. It’s a difficult and noteworthy feat to accomplish successfully as the author does here.
My wife has also recently finished reading the book and I am eager to hear her thoughts (I suppose it’s not a book club of one then…)
Next up is the much acclaimed surreal novel by Nobel Prize winning Gabriel Garcia Marquez –
One Hundred Years of Solitude
P.S. I know a handful of you out there who have read this so I guess it’s about time I caught up — I swear I will return this book to you when you get back to the country, Lucas.