Teatro Olivia!

I know I owe you a lot of posts (Lumina Pandit, Book Bazaar loot, and a whole lot of reviews) but I can’t resist sharing today’s wonderful bargain bookstore find!

My hands were literally shaking as I took it down the shelf, I held my breath as I inspected the contents, and I was hugging it all the way to the counter!

Voila! It’s Teatro Olivia!

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The Good Daughters

I’d never heard of Joyce Maynard before an uncorrected proof of her book, The Good Daughters, came into my hands, but a little Googling gave me a juicy an interesting discovery: when she was in college, she was in a relationship with a fifty-plus J.D. Salinger!

Here’s a snippet from Wikipedia:

She entered Yale University in 1971 and sent a collection of her writings to the editors of The New York Times Magazine. They asked her to write an article for them, which was published as “An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back On Life” in the magazine’s April 23, 1972 issue. The article prompted a letter from J. D. Salinger, then 53 years old, who complimented her writing and warned her of the dangers of publicity.

They exchanged 25 letters, and Maynard dropped out of Yale the summer after her freshman year to live with Salinger in Cornish, New Hampshire.[1] Maynard spent ten months living in Salinger’s Cornish home, during which time she completed work on her first book, Looking Back, a memoir that was published in 1973. Her relationship with Salinger ended abruptly just prior to the book’s publication; according to Salinger’s daughter Margaret, he ended things because Maynard wanted children but Salinger felt he was too old.[2] According to Maynard’s memoir, he cut off the relationship suddenly while on a family vacation with her and with his two children; she was stunned and begged him to take her back. According to Maynard, she had dropped out of Yale to be with him, forgoing a scholarship. She never finished college.

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Last Order sa Penguin

A couple of years ago, some friends of mine were raving about the University of the Philippines Press publication Last Order Sa Penguin by Chris Martinez (book #113 for 2009, #19 for the Diversity Challenge – Filipino), containing the script of a play with the same title.

I don’t read a lot of plays because I prefer prose, but I was in the mood for a short, light read so I picked up this book.

Last Order Sa Penguin (roughly translated for the benefit of my international  readers: Last Order at the Penguin Cafe) is a two-act play about five friends nearing their thirties: the cheerfully gay Tuxqs, the problematic Harlene, the sex addict Tess, the social climbing Dyna, and the druggie Mario, who all meet up at the Penguin Cafe in Malate.

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The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

I’m really not a big fan of the drama genre. I’m escapist by nature, and straight drama (*coughoprahsbookclubcough*) is really not my cup of tea.
This is why there are books in this genre that have been languishing in my TBR, because I’m reluctant to read them and I have to space them out.

I picked up Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (book #68 for 2009) because it’s not very thick and I figured I’d make a dent on this sector of my TBR.

I’d been forewarned by my Flipper friend Islandhopper that the book was highly dramatic, so I was prepared for the worst when I picked it up.

I find that there are some books that are very thick but I can read fast, like The Historian, and some thin books that take me forever to finish, like The Reader. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is somewhere in between, it wasn’t very thick, but it wasn’t moving quickly enough for me.

The novel unfolds in 1964, and Dr. David Henry’s wife Norah gives birth to twins in the middle of a blizzard. The second baby, a girl, has Down’s syndrome, and Dr. Henry decides to spare his wife from the difficulty of raising a special child and instructs his nurse, Caroline Gill, to take the baby to a special facility. Caroline is horrified by the institution she brings the baby too and decides to raise the baby on her own. Meanwhile, the pain of losing a child devastates Norah, adding another layer to the wall that has formed in their marriage, caused by the guilt Dr. Henry feels from giving their daughter away.

I think the premise, up until Caroline raising the baby on her own, is pretty interesting, actually. I imagine this sort of scenario did happen a lot in the past, when Down’s syndrome wasn’t very well understood yet, and I imagine there are still some cases of this happening today.

Mainly it’s the melodramatic development of the story that brings it down, because it’s a drawn out domestic drama, spanning two decades of misery and emotional lashing in the Henry household, with nothing much happening otherwise.

While it wasn’t as bad as I expected — I even cried a bit at the end, but well, I can cry at the drop of a hat so I’ve never put stock in a book’s tearjerking abilities — it was nothing spectacular for me either, and I don’t think there’s a chance that I’ll read it again.

My copy: trade paperback, mooched last year

My rating: 2/5 stars

P.S. By the time you read this, I’ll be in the mountains of Sagada soaking up some fresh air, great food, and a whole lot of culture :) I’ve advanced some posts, I hope you’ll enjoy reading them while I’m gone, and I’ll get back to comments when I get back in the city.