I am in the flatlands of CEntral Luzon. This is where the Maoist movement in the Philippines was born. A bunch of students and instructors from my University, so many decades ago, allied with the already extant armed movement here and formed the CPP-NPA. This is where Luis Taruc’s rebellion happened. This is where the Taruc clan still lives. I kind of want to see all the relevant places, but the heat reaally is too much. This is not the time to be travelling. I was in a tricycle days earlier in the town proper and I happened to glance at my face in the mirror, and man it was not a pretty sight. I just cannot function well under heat. It is the -ber months already and still there is no coolness to be had.
So instead of going out I stay inside and read. And what I’ve been reading: Mo Yan’s short stories, V.S. Pritchett’s short essays collection regarding writers and their novels. Some of the essays are illuminating, but most are kind of uninteresting or at least interesting only to those who are into this sort of specialized thing. Literary criticsim. I’m not into it. I just read criticism in order to look at what to do, what not to do, what to read next, various tips and tricks to apply in my writings.
Mo Yan’s story about the fantastic children who found out that iron is edible started out very good, but ended kind of for me in a question mark. The other one about the wife who escaped her husband by flying into the sky also is the same way. What I like about these CHinese writers I’ve been looking at recently (Mo Yan, Yan Lianke) is the earthiness of their motivation for writing. Both have lived their childhoods during the Mao years of famine, and both have had experience of hunger, of oddly enough, eating coal to deal with this hunger. Yan Lianke thanks Mo Yan in his introduction to one ofh is books. I don’t know which of them is older. That New Yorker (I think) article about Yan Lianke was incredibly well-written. (Yan Lianke’s Forbidden Satires of China). I like that he’s not that concerned about literary theory and criticism. I guess coming from the social realist school of writing for the masses, his criteria seems to be that so long as it captures the attention, it works. I’m cool with that.
This reminds me of this Russian writer, Pelevin who also writes about the Communist period, this time in Russia. It is interesting to contrast and compare how the Chinese and Russian writers make of the Communist periods in their respective countries. Pelevin’s Omon Ra’s bleakness reminds me a bit of the tone in Mo Yan’s darker works. I want to see how they thought of the figures of ultimate authority in their respective nations. Authoritarianism, the treatment of it in these works of fiction would be an interesting thing to look at. Garcia Marquez’s ‘Autumn of the Patriarch’ came to mind when I wrote that earlier sentence.