Guy named Richey

MSPListening to “A Design for Life” on YouTube. Manic Street Preachers keeping me company at 2 a.m.

Just finished reading Manic Street Preachers: Sweet Venom by Martin Clarke. Details of Richey Edwards’ harrowing battle with mental illness — the self-mutilation, the eating disorder, the dependency on drinks, and finally his disappearance — shook all the sleep out of my system. Like death, mental illness has always been a terrifying and yet fascinating topic for me.

Richey Edwards. Left his hotel room without checking out in 1995 and was never seen again.

I could follow up on his sad story by reading Rob Jovanovic’s A Version of Reason, but I’m afraid doing so would put me in a very dark place inside my head, and from there it would be a long hard crawl back to the light, and even then I doubt if I could come out of it whole.

So I picked The Hot Kid instead, by the late Elmore Leonard. Critics can accuse Leonard of a lot of things, but writing depressing stuff is not one of them.

“A Design for Life” has just ended. I think I’ll listen to it one or two more times, jump to bed with The Hot Kid (man, that sounds… weird),  read until sleep comes and the vision of a lonely boy with cuts on his arms fades away.

And tomorrow when I wake up, I’ll welcome the sunshine more than ever.

Advertisements

What he said: Henry Miller on materialism

henry“Most of the young men of talent whom I have met in this country give one the impression of being somewhat demented. Why shouldn’t they? They are living amidst spiritual gorillas, living with food and drink maniacs, success-mongers, gadget innovators, publicity hounds. God, if I were a young man today, if I were faced with a world such as we have created, I would blow my brains out.”Henry Miller in The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, his brutal, unabashed take on American capitalism and abject materialism

Imagine reading this in Makati (or in The Fort or Ortigas Center or Eastwood or other such places), at a Starbucks perhaps while waiting for somebody, and looking at the suits and ties around you fiddling with their iPhones and Blackberrys and Samsung whatevers, or hunched over their MacBook Pros, or engaged in passionate talk on topics ranging from social media to Steve Jobs to getting a tan to market analysis, and you realize, Jesus!, Miller’s words are as true today in my country as they were in 1945 America.

And then you wonder if that feeling you have is amazement or disgust.

Bookgasm 2012

stormofswordsTo your right is my Best Read 2012 Edition. Because the murders are horrific, the characters wicked, the plot complex. Not-for-the-faint-of-heart stuff. The whole book is a big fat middle finger to anything formulaic.

For this year, it’s 20 books/ebooks, more or less 15 magazines (mostly Rolling Stone), zero comics (not proud of this) — and two significant developments: my  gore-soaked introduction to the fantasy genre, and my acceptance of ebooks as a legit format rather than Jeff Bezos’ racket to sucker us into buying his Kindle (I ended up buying his Kindle).

It was a wild ride. In 12 months I’ve been to Afghanistan at the height of the Taliban rule, to Texas playing Sherlock Holmes with a dude named Kinky, to the highly fortified NASA compound in Houston plotting the most audacious heist in history, even to the Booya Moon, where it’s always bad at night and there’s evil laughter in the woods. And more. Wherever it was, it was always exactly where I wanted to be.

Looking forward to the adventures of 2013.

Photo courtesy of Dennis “The Ill Diablo” Mendoza.

Smells like Kindled spirit

After keeping it at bay for months, after hemming and hawing and pretending it’s never gonna happen, the unthinkable occurred: I’ve finally gone electronic with my reading.

Yes, I know, I once held strong opinion against ebooks, finding them too impersonal and complex to be of any fun. But faced with the dilemma of dwindling space for my ever expanding library, coupled with the stratospheric costs of books and the constant threat of termites to my precious collection, I knew even from the start that my switching to ebooks was only a matter of time.

Make no mistake, I still like actual books. I still love the feel of paper on my skin (paper cuts notwithstanding), still fascinated with the smell of new books (as well as the dusty aroma of old ones), still gloat over Booksale finds. I look at my library — stacks and stacks of paperbacks and hardcovers lovingly collected through the years — and feel a kind of pride that is almost parental. Unlike many, I see no problem in lugging books around.

Still, one can only resist change for so long. Hence: a Kindle. Purchased via gmettrading.com as an early Christmas gift to myself. To say that I’m excited to explore this nifty little gadget is an understatement.