Quantcast
Latest Stories

Review

Manila’s elegant darkness featured in Jessica Hagedorn-edited volume

By

As young children, many Manila-dwelling Filipinos were allowed by their elders to play in the afternoons. But as soon as the light fades, they are called back in, as if there was something dangerous lurking in the night.

That is the same chilling sensation one feels when reading “Manila Noir” (Anvil Publishing, Mandaluyong City, 2013, 240 pages), the new collection of noir fiction edited by “Dogeaters” author Jessica Hagedorn. The Philippine iteration of Akashic Books’ worldwide Noir series (Anvil possesses the Philippine rights), “Manila Noir” features stories of the city humming with subterfuge, violence, crime, sex and mystery. For this edition, Hagedorn has gathered work from an unusually good lineup of suspects: Gina Apostol, F.H. Batacan, Rosario Cruz-Lucero, José Dalisay, Lourd de Veyra, Eric Gamalinda, Angelo R. Lacuesta, R. Zamora Linmark, Sabina Murray, Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, Lysley Tenorio, Marianne Villanueva and Jonas Vitman.

“Manila is where I was born, a city of heat and shadow and secrets, perfect for this genre we call noir,” Hagedorn writes in her introduction. “Manila’s a city of survivors, schemers, and dreamers.” The book is a Hagedorn-curated walk on Manila’s wild side, a journey through the sharp corners and hidden pathways of the city’s underbelly. It is a wonderful collection, balanced between its three chapters, “Us Against Them,” “Black Pearl of the Orient” and “They Live By Night.”

Wounding fiction

Held closely to their breasts by the stories are messy, edged lives flaring out in seemingly random directions. But the 14 stories themselves are all elegant and smooth, like a bladed weapon concealed in a jacket. They strike suddenly but thoroughly, leaving you wounded. Embedded in each story is a deep acceptance of the fantastically flawed life in the big city and a step out of the ordinary.

Tenorio’s “Aviary” is a riotously subversive exploration of a high-end mall that works very well as a stunning first strike. Batacan’s “Comforter of the Afflicted” is a perfectly paced procedural featuring the welcome return of forensic anthropologist Fr. Augusto Saenz, the protagonist of her novel “Smaller and Smaller Circles.” What starts as a routine drug deal goes off into tragicomically unexpected territory in De Veyra’s “Satan Has Already Bought U.”

In his story “Darling, You Can Count on Me,” Gamalinda pieces together, “Rashomon”-style, the puzzle pieces of the controversial 1967 killing of the original, so-called “Chop-Chop Lady,” Lucilla Lalu. Dalisay deftly connects a secondhand car to a fallen university professor in “The Professor’s Life.” Lacuesta recalls the hazy images of a late-night smashup in “After Midnight.” Murray’s “Broken Glass” follows a young girl’s day after a home invasion goes bizarrely wrong.

The most conspicuous offering is also the most inspired addition to the collection, one that Hagedorn herself dubs “the surprise centerpiece of this anthology.” Tan and Baldisimo’s acclaimed comic book series “Trese” is represented here by the new story “Thirteen Stations,” where paranormal investigator (and investigator of the paranormal) Alexandra Trese investigates a series of frightening hauntings on various stations of the train system that runs right through the city’s skeleton, the same way this story runs through the nerve system of “Manila Noir.”

Not to be overlooked is Hagedorn’s brilliant, colorful introduction, titled “Femme Fatale.” Its poetic and powerful observations about the sublime contradictions of Manila ring both true and otherworldly. “All the fabulous and fearless writers gathered here, whether they are living in Manila, the US, or elsewhere in the ever-growing Philippine diaspora, have a deep connection and abiding love for this crazy-making, intoxicating city. There’s nothing like it in the world, and they know it,” Jessica Hagedorn reminds readers. “Manila Noir” is a masterfully crafted anthology that reminds us that, if you truly love your city, you embrace its darkness as much as—if not more than—its brightness.

Available in paperback at leading bookstores.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Books , Jessica Hagedorn , Lifestyle , Manila Noir



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  3. This is not just a farm
  4. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  5. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  6. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. The truffled mac ‘n’ cheese, eggs benedict, chicken leg confit are excellent
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  5. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  6. South Koreans crave Asia’s smelliest fish
  7. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Ex-Givenchy model fights for ‘Yolanda’ survivors

News

  • Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine
  • Philippine eagle rescued by Army turned over to DENR
  • Gunmen attack Iraq military base, kill 10 soldiers
  • South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  • Classmates celebrating 60th birthday among missing in ferry sinking
  • Sports

  • Nadal passes clay landmark with 300th victory
  • Wawrinka waltzes through with Monte Carlo walkover
  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Business

  • Total says makes ‘very promising’ oil find off Ivory Coast
  • ‘Chinese Twitter’ firm Weibo to go public in US
  • World stocks subdued, Nikkei flat on profit taking
  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • Technology

  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus
  • DFA: 2 Filipinos survive Korean ferry disaster
  • PH asks airline passengers to check for MERS
  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
    Marketplace