By Trixie Reguyal
Since 1998, Caroline Hau has been publishing one groundbreaking and award-winning book after another. She has published cultural analyses, literary criticism and history, fiction, and anthologies. This year, with Carol’s encouragement, I published a book of essays.
Carol has expanded on the Afterword to her recent book about EDSA here. She has also provided a short description of a new anthology she co-edited with Issy Orlina Reyes and Kimi Tuvera here. As Carol’s future books come out, links to posts relating to them will be provided on this page.
As to my book, I feel like writing another book to explain it. So much of writing is a matter of making choices – what words to use, which details to include and exclude, if and when to attempt humor, when to use the subjunctive, when to hyphenate. My feeling, at this point, is encapsulated by what Jenny Diski, the prolific novelist, short story writer, travel writer, essayist, and memoirist, said in an interview. “At some level there is no point in writing. The world really doesn’t need more half-good books. I’m totally arrogant, but I’m not arrogant enough to think I’m good enough. And in a sense, that’s what keeps me writing. Every book I write is a failed book. I feel that very strongly. Otherwise why write another one?”
It’s strange. I wrote the essays that went into my book because there were stories I wanted to tell. Now I want to write more essays because I feel I didn’t tell the stories properly or completely, with the appropriate accounting of complexities. There are also stories whose subsequent events are so interesting that they merit more treatment. I want to write more about my kids’ school’s International Night in the light (darkness?) of the rise of Donald Trump as an American presidential nominee, but also with a true-to-life twist involving both Manny Pacquiao and Elsa, the princess from Frozen. My younger daughter still goes to church but her faith has so evolved that she now also prays to and invokes Poseidon, Athena, and the other ancient Greek gods. The popular Ecuadoran Zumba teacher in my gym was replaced by a Filipino guy, a dancer who grew up in Iloilo, who is, as many attending the class agree, spectacular. And then the gym itself, after a few weeks with the new Zumba teacher, announced that it was shutting down. (I predicted this in an old blog post!) I wrote a lot about my hometown, Cabanatuan City, and I should perhaps add that it has inadvertently become an early laboratory of climate change as it repeatedly breaks heat records, which it set itself in years past, in the Philippines.
I also hope to write new essays: about a Filipino grandma I met in Flushing who kissed Bill Clinton; revisiting a street in Madrid where I lived before; the strange but useful phrase “Asian American”; my yearly rereading of the essays of Kerima Polotan; when, in one of our trips to Manila in the seventies, my family and I got lost in Quezon City and inadvertently had a picnic of adobo and salted eggs in the middle of the Ateneo quadrangle. (No, there were no security guards at the time to boot out lost promdis. Yes, we wondered why we were the only ones picnicking in what seemed to us a beautiful expansive park. Yes, people stared at us. Yes, we enjoyed our picnic anyway. No, we did not leave a mess.) So many stories. I hope I can find the words to tell them.
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