As I Lay Dying movie trailer

This William Faulkner novel was required reading in my Master’s years ago, and it’s one of the more difficult texts I’ve read because of its stream of consciousness technique and multiple narrators. That’s as far as I can remember! I’m wondering if this will even be shown in the regular cinemas here in my region. Serious films don’t get a lot of mileage with mainstream audiences. I’ll try to catch it if it does, just so I could watch an adaptation that is canonical in 20th century literature.

Why books matter by Rica Bolipata-Santos at TEDxDiliman

“In the face of poverty and destruction, absolutely, books matter. In the face of natural disaster and calamity, absolutely, books matter. In the face of terrible governance, there is no better weapon than books…

Books matter because memory and language matter, books matter because the human living enterprise of living matters, and books matter because art matters.”

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


For a break from my sci-fi/fantasy reads, I picked up this psychological thriller. Nick and Amy seemed like an ideal couple until their failing professional & economic status paved the way for them to reveal their true selves, a facade that cracked after keeping up with it for years. The gender battle of the Dunnes got really twisted, and this he said/she said format of the literature will serve as an example on the persuasive power of a text to form the biases for or against the female or the male. My initial reaction to the book was to speed up my reading and get it over with because the machismo of Nick was starting to successfully offend my female sensibilities, but at the same time, Amy’s wicked schemes also horrified me and made me affirm my disdain in real life of women who act this way. This internal tug-of-war in a reader is an effect of probably what made this novel a bestseller. The text affirms the stereotypical attributes of men and women, and then smartly picks it apart by providing the formative information of the characters that served as an explanation for their reactions and inclinations to decisions in their marriage. The lethal combination of Amy and Nick is a volatile force but given the right amount of compromise, they turn out quite complimentary. Being a single woman reading a fictional scenario of a crazy marriage didn’t quite help me want to be in this sacrament at this point, haha. The endless internal and external factors and combinations of personalities in a relationship are at play to make a bond like this work. Tell me, dear married readers, how do you know it will?

I found this book thought-provoking and a little disturbing, but a little shake up of the sensibilities is quite healthy for anyone once in a while. This would make good material for gender discussions upon close reading, but I’m just not quite there yet in pinning this down as revolutionary more than novelty in its approach and style. It’s already in the works as a film, and I’m interested in how the producers and screenwriters will present this whodunit case. I’m definitely thumbs up in casting the beautiful Rosamund Pike as Amy for this, but Ben Affleck? I’d want Nick to be much younger, and a bit wilder in the masculine sense. I guess we’ll have to wait for the film and see.


I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

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The universe has a scary way of choosing a path for you if you haven’t figured your life out yet, and nineteen year-old Ed Kennedy, in a remarkable burst of bravery, foiled a bank robbery attempt and became the city’s hero overnight. This significant turn in his life paved the way to his appointment as the “Messenger.” By whom and why? He doesn’t know! Different mysterious people guide him and send him on missions which all depends on his ability to unravel the clues on the playing card and information sent to his apartment. He receives an Ace of Diamonds as a starting point, and his life was never the same even after he completed his deck. The story explored the concept of doing good deeds, sort of like paying it forward, but a more complicated and ethically challenging version. Being a modern-day Robin Hood doesn’t quite match what the Messenger’s job description is because he just doesn’t punish the bad guys. He also needs to be a life-changing source of inspiration to the chosen clients in the scheme. Ed’s goodness and compassion is innate so it’s not too hard for him to fit the role assigned to him. If he, as an ordinary teen, could fulfill the arduous tasks given him, how much more better place this world would be if the rest of humanity made it a mission to help each other?

I am happily surprised that the author, Markus Zusak, included a case on religious faith which is a topic rarely touched in mainstream literature nowadays. Fictional this novel may be, but it hits a slice of life wherein some churches in some parts of the world find it to be a miracle to have a steady stream of congregation. How was Ed able to do this miracle? You’d have to read the book and see what he comes up with! In general, Zusak has a very earnest way of revealing much of real life’s agony and hope in Ed’s journeys to completion of his tasks. This novel is both light and dark, snicker-out-loud funny and emotionally harrowing in Ed’s times of suffering for his cause. His cases are both beautiful and difficult, and the relief in me as a reader even develops a deeper respect on how these scenarios were made because all aspects of the story did resolve even the most challenging one: Ed’s transformation from a selfish to selfless person, from being the Messenger to actually being the message in the end. I loved this book in my first read, but I think it deserves a re-read for me to appreciate it fully and deeply.

I’ve finished The Book Thief, the author’s more popular bestseller now being filmed into an adaptation. I also vowed to re-read it before I make my review. It’s THAT good of a material that I don’t want to just base my entry on initial feelings. I may be able to write a postscript to I Am The Messenger too if I feel I missed out on a lot of important elements to note. Needless to say, Zusak is my new favorite author. His books are gems in mainstream literature that has a lot of depth but is easily accessible and relatable to teens. I’ll be happy to hear if you’ll give these two masterpieces as gifts for Christmas! At least, I would.