Here goes nothing
This morning my office mate Chuck gave me a doorstop masquerading as a holiday gift: a physical copy of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.
This 1996 novel taking place in a junior tennis academy and an addict’s halfway house has been called “a gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the pursuit of happiness in America.” Whether or not finishing this book will get you laid is still a mystery.
I have a copy of the book on my iPad but I actually never got around to going beyond the first few pages. I realized I’m a traditional book reader and I still prefer a physical book I can touch and smell, though admittedly reading in the dark is a lot more convenient with e-books. But you cannot smell e-books. You can’t.
The book is a whopping monstrosity that can double as a lethal weapon.
The thickest book I’ve read so far was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at 734 pages. This one is 1,079-paged baby. And there are actual books dedicated to encouraging fools to finish it. And then there’s this. I’ve since graduated from my obsession with Harry Potter and I’m hoping I now have the mental stamina to take on more “grownup stuff.” This may require going home straight from work, cutting time off the Internet or severing ties with my friends.
I’m not promising I’ll finish it, but I want to.
Today I met with the ruler of the universe, Jessica Zafra, for a small get-together with her and the participants of the Write Here, Write Now workshop. We met late last year and worked on our novels while Jessica did her best to make us realize the sorry state of our creative writing. Of course she gave us constructive points. We were supposed to come up with our manuscripts last Sunday, and I was able to send mine three minutes before the deadline passed.
My story is all about losing and how to deal with loss. It’s about a black Jewish lesbian midget from Mississippi who lost her kitten, and how she battled rednecks who took it from her.
Kidding aside, it’s about a depressed college student who tried pulling himself together amid guilt and self-loathing, and how something that happened in the past left him jaded toward an opportunity to start anew. That’s all I can say about it right now, because we’ve yet to work on the final draft. I can say, though, that the story is set in the University of the Philippines around 2009, and the characters are based on some of my friends and people I know. I used real places and inserted pop culture references around that time, because well, I’m the author.
Jessica said writing Bildungsroman novels especially in the first person point of view usually falls into the thinly veiled autobiography territory, and that scared me a little because I’m quite the private person and I don’t like giving people an idea of how weird I am. I tried my best to distance myself from the main character.
The story begins with these two paragraphs:
Yesterday, I met one of my life heroes, Jessica Zafra. I met her years before when I was still working as a reporter in a business newspaper, but I was too shy to introduce myself. Yesterday, though, we met for a special reason. She will be my jedi master in the coming months and teach me the way of the force so I can do something useful with my life. It’s basically this.
To the delight of people who don’t have a love life, the Manila International Book Fair just returned to the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City for its 34th year.
It was my first time to attend the huge book fair and I was surprised to see a lot of people browsing over rows upon rows of books. Primetrade Asia Inc., the event organizer, said about 85,000 attend the annual week-long exhibit, which I think is a pretty good following. I hope it gets bigger in the coming years, though. The place is so huge, and it’s filled with books catering to almost every interest.
I went straight to the Fully Booked booth to check out their stuff. I was greeted by a bunch of John Green books by the entrance and I contemplated on getting a copy of Looking for Alaska. Then I heard a passerby tell her friend that she didn’t like it. I thought I should just probably borrow a copy from a friend.
I asked a staff where the Sedarises were and the friendly girl asked me if I was looking for that one with the owl on the cover. Yes yes yes. She disappeared and returned with a copy of the latest book which got released last April 23. I asked her where she got it and she directed me to the nonfiction section. When I went there all I saw were books about Jesus and Islam.
Scholastic just released yesterday the new Harry Potter books with seven new covers created by Japanese-American writer and illustrator Kazu Kibuishi.
Kibuishi is both the writer and illustrator of Amulet, a series of graphic novels for kids, so I guess he’s a good choice for the project. Imagine Harry Potter books illustrated by Tim Burton. Or yourself.
Yesterday afternoon at lunch break I got down our office building and crossed the street to Fully Booked where I asked one of the employees if they had a copy of Jenny Lawson’s autobiographical debut, this book called ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.’ It sounds like the line you say whenever your beer goggles wear off.