Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The autocrat of the bargain bin (and Pacquiao -- woohoo!)

In the past two weeks, I have seen the following Tom Robbins books in various bargain bins:
1) Villa Incognito, hardcover, in Glorietta, in the hallway. 99 pesos. (Buy-one-take-one. The other book I got with it was Wind in the Willows for my 10-yr old.)
2) Skinny Legs and All, TPB, SM Sucat, I dont remember the store. Not Booksale. 140 pesos.
3) Jitterbug Perfume, TPB, Booksale Makati Cinema Square. 40 pesos.
4) Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas, TPB, that Glorietta hallway again. 140 pesos.
5) Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, paperback, Booksale Makati Cinema Square. 40 pesos.
I have always been a fan of his books and really, he doesnt deserve to be in the bargain bin. Im not complaining though. Villa Incognito at 99 pesos? Come on. The thing is, I can't find his books in normal bookstores. Except perhaps for Still Life With Woodpecker which I may have spotted in Powerbooks or one of those sosyal stores. Perhaps the reason for the enduring appeal of Still Life with Pinoys is because it's a love story between a terrorist and a princess. (We know how sappy Pinoy readers are.)

I like him because he writes 'guy books'. Theyre big, bold, irreverent, vulgar, and has lots of boinking in them. He's also not afraid to mix serious issues with mystical, magical stuff and revels in the comedic possibilities in the juxtaposition. Villa Incognito for example examines post 9/11 America and intersperses it with Japanese mythology. His books will make you laugh, but theyll also make you think, and along the way, theyll make you horny.

He has an easy way with metaphors and other figures of speech, but unlike Salman Rushdie who sometimes piles them on real thick until you want to yell, 'Will you just get on with it, Sal!' at him, Robbins's skill is in using them as an integral part of his storytelling style without being overbearing. And Rushdie is a bit of a prude, probably because of his Asian background, while Robbins's writing is a man walking up to a bar naked, scratching his balls, ordering a shot and a beer, and trying to pick up that slut in the corner.

The fact that his works languish in the bargain bins in Metro Manila pains me a bit. He should be in places like Powerbooks, and Fully Booked, and A Different Bookstore, and all those snobby, upscale bookstores where youll find Salman Rushdie's and Neil Gaiman's books. And dont get me started on Stephanie Meyer. My daughter has read all four Twilight books and has pooh-pooh'ed all my attempts at making her read, say, Madeleine L'Engle. But she has an excuse: she's twelve.


Ive almost had it up to here with those armchair boxing experts who complain that Oscar De la Hoya failed to show up for the Dream Match against Manny Pacquiao. "Oscar is old, he's slow, he doesnt have it in him anymore, blah blah blabbidy blah." Listen, experts, I suppose it hasnt occurred to you that the reason Oscar fought poorly that night was because Manny made him do so. He's thirty-five, for pete's sake. That's not old. Bernard Hopkins is in his 40's and is still considered the best fighters around. Randy Couture is forty-five and I dare you to call him old to his face. Manny was just too fast and too crafty that he made Oscar look silly. Against other fighters he wouldve still been Oscar and no one would complain he didnt show up. The Guardian's Lawrence Donegan was right when he wrote:
No one inside the MGM's Grand Garden Theatre had any reason to disagree with that, although in fairness to De La Hoya it was hard to believe anyone – not even De La Hoya in his prime – could have prevailed in the face of Pacquiao's speed and ringcraft.
Experts. Pfsh.


grifter said...

i bet you had an evil grin on your face as you watched the old guy get pummeled. nyuk-nyuk-nyuk.

Jego said...

I embarrassed the hell out of my daughters when we were in a mall and word came out that Pacquaio won. (No way was I going to sit through those commercials, even for the Pacman.) I was high-fiving salesladies, and whooping it up with strangers, and did the dance of joy.