Musings of a Common Reader

October 31, 2010
Backpacking with a Book

Boracay: Traveling with Llosa

Life gets difficult when a person goes to live somewhere else. . . Luckily we know how to walk. Luckily we’ve been walking for such a long time. Luckily we’re always moving from one place to another. What would have become of us if we were the sort of people who never move. We’d have disappeared who knows where. —Mario Vargas Llosa, “The Storyteller” NOTES TO SELF: 1. You’re not a tourist rather a fleeting visitor, a place sniffer. So, please, don’t be treated like royalty. You want to see the place as it is, without the pampering, without the […]
November 5, 2010
Backpacking with a Book

An Act of Returning

Ex-stasis: where one does not belong to any place, where anything can lead to something, where something can lead to nothing, where the self is not located nearby, where the self is left somewhere else. Notes on Baguio Houses constructed on mountains’ shoulders looked like painted boxes arranged drastically like they are about to stumble, somersault, and then fall, pulp into pieces on the mountain’s foot. They are like moments frozen, stilled in photographs. It reminds me of Kiran Desai’s Darjeeling’s houses: “the weight of more concrete pressing downward had spurred the town’s lopsided descent and caused more landslides than […]
November 17, 2010
Backpacking with a Book

Jonathan Safran Foer: On Distance and Silence

Tragedy primes one for humor. And humor primes one for tragedy. They amplify each other. As a writer, I am trying to express those things that are most scary to me, because I am alone with them. Why do I write? It’s not that I want people to think I am smart, or even that I am a good writer. I write because I want to end my loneliness. Books make people less alone. That, before and after everything else, is what books do. They show us that conversations are possible across distances. I spent the morning reading  a six-page […]
November 30, 2010
Backpacking with a Book

Of Urgent Truths and Firsts

“What rot, I didn’t mean it, did you mean it?” (“No, of course not, of course I didn’t mean it.”) They laughed in recognition of their extremity, just as they might have laughed at another time, in the middle of quite different, astoundingly tender declarations. They trembled with murderous pleasure, with the excitement of saying what could never be retracted, they exulted in wounds inflicted but also in wounds received, and one of the other said at some point, “This is the first time we’ve spoken the truth since we’ve known each other!” For even things that came to them […]