Thursday, October 23, 2008

M A C A R T H U R by Bob Ong

One of my favorite authors is Bob Ong.

His writing style is witty, funny and puts the reader right into the picture of his his short stories. His books were introduced to me by my nephew and niece. The very first book I read was A B N K K B S N P L Ako. It's like reading a text message. In Filipino, all the letters are read with an A in the end. The first book was downright humorous and I could relate to it.

His most recent short story is M A C A R T H U R. On my recent trip out of town, I got the chance to start and finish this short novel.

At first, I was taken aback by the language that he used here. Many may find it scandalous that he uses the words "bongaloids, pakyu, tangnamo, titi mo, putres, letse, bogsa,..." explicitly. But the book, written from an observer watching five friends who are drug-addicts, live in the slum area, come from poor families, and are criminals for a living is a realization of the human drama that comes devoid of funny antics. The grotesque way of life may be squirmish for the faint-hearted. But it should be remembered that the people whom Bob Ong writes about are just as real as every Filipino whose stories should be told. It does not push us to understand the travails of Noel, Cyrus, Voltron, Jim... but the stories of Noel, Cyrus and Voltron's families are ingrained in every Filipino family to some degree. And the sidelines are not spared. There is no melodrama here. It is a deviation from the humor that Bob Ong injects in his stories. It is a notch above his other writings.

What's with the title? Buy the book at Powerbooks Bookstore and find out why in the end.

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