Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's a sin to kill a mockingbird

This is my last post for the book.

Who killed Bob Ewell?

Certainly not Jem. I do not believe it was Jem at all.  Jem may have saved Jean Louise from Mr. Ewell bu definitely he wasn't capable of killing Mr.  Ewell.

What I know is that Arthur 'Boo' Radley saved them both. He was the one carrying Jem when he fainted.  Arthur carried Jem to their house.  Arthur saved them.

The sheriff Mr. Crenshaw stood by his ground, too, that Jem did not kill Mr. Ewell.  He was true to his word that Mr. Ewell got himself killed with his own knife when he slipped off the root of the oak tree and turned the knife into his own body.

I don't believe Mr. Crenshaw.

But what I believe is what Atticus said, "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."  Because he says all it does is sing good songs to us.

The last sentence of the book:

He turned out the light and went into Jem's room.  He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.

Monday, October 24, 2011


It is never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name.  It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn't hurt you.

Jem and Jean Louise are getting tired of what the people call their father.  They've bee into fights whenever they hear their classmates call them names.  And one of them was Mrs. Dubose, an elderly woman who lived near their home.  Every time they pass by her house, she calls their father names that hurt them.

So, as a child with a quick temper, Jem wasn't able to help it one day.  He tore all the plants at the front yard of Mrs. Dubose's house and later on, he was called by his father for penance.  He was to read for Mrs. Dubose for two hours a day for a month.

A month had passed and his father said it's not done yet.  He has to read some more.  He was vengeful about this since that's not what they talked about.  But his father told him how he was helping Mrs. Dubose.  Hers was an addiction that was cured when Jem started reading for her.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The first sentence in the book:

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

I have been wanting to read this book ever since I can remember.  I looked for it on eBay but it was expensive.  So, I settled that I might not have the chance.  I looked for a free e-book copy but didn't find any.  I'm just not sure if I didn't look that hard.

Then, of all places, I wasn't expecting to find it here in our local bookstore in the province.  I didn't look that hard.  It was by chance.  I was actually surprise that they are now carrying a few books by John Grisham and Nicolas Sparks.  But it is more surprising to find classical books like this.

Here's the first five sentences on page 68:

Jem and I were leaving Miss Rachel's front steps one night when Dill stopped us:  "Golly, looka yonder." He pointed across the street.  At first we saw nothing but a kudzu-covered front porch, but a closer inspection revealed an arc or water descending from the leaves and splashing in the yellow circle of the street light, some ten feet from the source to earth, it seemed to us.  Jem said Mr. Avery misfigured, Dill said he must drink a gallon a day, and the ensuing contest to determine relative distances and respective prowess only made me feel left out again, as I was untalented in this area.

Dill stretched, yawned, and said altogether too casually, "I know what, let's go for a walk."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

It was a surprise.

Kathy Jones.

I never thought the ending will be on her.  I thought she was the one who got killed in the war.  But she survived.  Although she had a limp, she survived.  Of all the characters I remember, I think she's the only one who made it through.

She got a long letter from Skip.  He told her he believed he loved her.  But what else is there to do now?  He was in Malaysia, she's in the States.  And Skip has a Filipina common-law-wife living in Cebu and he has two offsprings there.

Skip also wrote a letter to Eddie Aguinaldo in the Philippines asking him to find about about his family there.  He believes he will be a little less worried if he knows that Eddie Aguinaldo will sometimes pay them a visit to know if everything is all right.  That's the last thing he could do.

At this point, Skip had no choice.  He was left with no choice but to stay in Malaysia.

The last sentence of the book:
All will be saved.

I want the truth

Colonel Sands is dead.

Some say he isn't.

Some say he is.

I can't seem to know what to believe anymore.  With just a few more pages left to read, I feel like I still have a lot of questions that I need to find the answers to.

What happened to Skip?  Why was he in Malaysia?  Is he really going to die out there?  I can't believe that after all the war he's gone through, after they lost and he left Vietnam, is he in Malaysia to die?

Like Jimmy Storm, I wanted to find out, too.  But is it worth it for Jimmy to travel all the way just to find out the truth about Colonel Sands?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

James, I am disappointed.

And I guess your mom is, too.

You said you're going to send part of your money to your mother, to help her out there.  Bu after three consecutive remittances, you stopped.  And spent it all on your booze.  Sure, I can't blame you.  It's lonely out there.  But just a little amount to help your mom out wouldn't have hurt your finances.

You ended up like your big brother, Bill.  The only difference is that he didn't send anything at all.

Right now, you're both back in the States and discharged because of the awful things you've done.  And I think you both are looking for your future which I couldn't find for you guys myself.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


"Sands hadn't revealed himself as a Catholic.  Perhaps he wouldn't.  Maybe, he thought, I'm tired of my faith.  Not because it's been tested and broken, like Kathy's.  Only because it's gone unexercised."

Another letter from Kathy Jones

It's been ten days since he arrived in Vietnam.

And as Hao promised, he came back with Skip's mail, plus cardboard boxes and some commissary for his pantry.

But it was Kathy's letter that remained with me.  She writes deep thoughtful letters to Skip.  To me it looks like Kathy doesn't really have someone to talk to over there about her deepest thoughts.  And I know that it's not that she isn't friendly.  But instead, it could be that she finds it hard to connect with just anybody else.  She finds it hard to open her heart to just anyone, and I think probably it has something to do with the issue of trust.

If I were her, I guess I would be cautious in talking to people.  That's my number one rule when I am not in my own land, not in my own country.  And this makes it even more complicated.  She is in a land at war, and would never know who her enemies are.

And like me, I know it's safer to talk about the things that bothers me to friends back home, or in some other country; just not with just anyone from where I am at.  This is just being careful.  This is staying out of danger.

So, she writes letters frequently.  But as she said at the end of her letter:

"Are you even reading this?"

What's the word?


This is what the Vietnamese women in a bar offer to the soldiers together with beer.

"No.  Beer now.  Bo-jup later."  That was what James said.

But it took him some time to understand what the word means.  Certainly not Vietnamese because they were talking to them in English.  And he was completely blown away when he finally figured it out.

I could not help but feel sorry for these women.  Well, I guess this happened in the Philippines, too, at about the same time.  This is what feeds them.  The money they get from it is the one that sustains their lives.  This is reality.  This is true then.  And this still holds true now.

Only, these days, it's not confined to the bar.  You can find it in the streets, at the movie house... everywhere.

The sad fact is that someone once said, "it's just worth a burger, or an order of chinese noodles."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It started in the Philippines

This came as a surprise.

Rarely do I find foreign books that has Philippines on it.  The last time was probably with the book, "Five People I Met in Heaven" by Mitch Albom and the character there was Tala(star).

This book started right here, particularly in Subic.  And the year was 1963.  I must admit that I am poor in History, particularly with the war, that I won't be able to put it exactly in what date did this happen.

But anyway, I always feel joy when our country is mentioned.  But, then again, it was kind of short-lived.  Because after that beautiful beach description comes the Filipino women and their not-so-good role during the war, which I'd rather not mention.  But of course, there were good things.  Only, that doesn't come into one's mind at first glance.

But the book seems to pacify my frustration.  I am amazed that Denis Johnson was able to talk about the aswang and its folklore.  He even related the story of how it all began.  Although again, it's not one of the best of the Philippines, it was good that he was able to research more thoroughly on that.  Because I myself do not exactly know the tale.

Then, comes our famous San Miguel Beer.  From the way these soldiers talk, especially the colonel, it seems that this is probably really one of the best beers in the world.  And I take it positively since it comes from a soldier who had traveled around the world.  I really wonder what sets it apart.

After Subic, one of the characters, William 'Skip' Sands, was asked by his uncle to go to Mindanao.  This was his assignment prior to Vietnam.  Skip wants to go to Vietnam, and I wonder why.  I wonder what his intentions are, his motives, his beginnings that makes him wants to go to Vietnam.

While in Mindanao, he met Kathy, who at that time, was waiting for any news about her husband Timothy.  By the time she heard about him, she ended up going to bed with Skip.  And right now, a few pages after, I still wonder if it was lust or frustration that made her do what she did.

Whatever Skip's assignment in Mindanao was, I leave it up to you to read about.  It was just a short trip with a rendezvous with a married-woman-who-became-a-widow.  And that rendezvous didn't end there.  She wrote him letters when she got to Vietnam.  And this one really moved me:

They were born into a land at war.  Born into a time of trial that never ends.
What I don't think has been talked about is the fact that in order to be Hell, the people in Hell could never be sure they were really there.  If God told them they were in Hell, then the torment of uncertainty would be relieved from them, and their torment wouldn't be complete without that nagging question - "Is this suffering I see all around me my eternal damnation and the eternal damnation of all these souls, or is it just a temporary journey?"  A temporary journey in the fallen world.

Kathy is in Vietnam.  And that is how she sees the place.

How bad was it really?

Right now, James Houston just landed in Vietnam with two other guys named Evans and Fisher.  I think James thinks he's in the wrong place.  I think James was expecting something else.  But right now, I think all he can do is wait til his next assignment, if there would ever be another.

Skip is now in Vietnam, too.  And the colonel just handed his new passport.  William French Benet.  Canadian.  I need to find out about this change.

Meantime, it has been five chapters and five years.  I am having a hard time with a book of so many characters.  James is a brother of that Seaman Houston who was in the Philippines back in 1963.  Seaman Houston is now also in Vietnam and I wonder if they would ever get to meet.  Again,  there are so many characters in the story that I need to go back to a certain chapter o refresh me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson

There is this store in our town that started by selling school and office supplies, later on adding second-hand books.  It's been standing probably fifteen years already but I rarely buy from them.  I find it quite expensive for my budget, that's why.

But a few weeks ago, I saw this book and its price got me interested.  Not the title. Not the author.  Not the story.  Just the price.  I don't know if I ever mentioned in one of my posts here that I am into exploring authors although my all-time favorite is Stephen King, followed by Sidney Sheldon.  Just in case I already did, well, this goes for my new readers now.

This is the reason why I never stuck to one genre, one author.  If you noticed in my list, I even have read classic novels from classic authors.  In fact, that's the genre that I wanted to explore more.  Yes, most of those books are available online for free.  But, after several times of trying, I still love the printed word.  I still love the smell of a book as you flap the pages, I still love the way a book feels on my hands.  Not to mention the fact that I don't find any thrill in reading a book on a monitor.  It just seems like it doesn't take me to the place.


I bought this book for Php 45.00 (about a few cents more than a dollar) on that shop, without having any idea about the story.  At that time, I was thinking that there is nothing to lose in reading any book anyway.  We learn something from it one way or the other.

So, here is the preview (page 68) of this book:
"And who," said Pitchfork, "was I fighting in the Malay jungle in '51 and '52?" The same Chinese guerillas who helped us with the Burma business in "40 and '41."
Then the colonel said, "We've got to keep hold of our ideals while steering them through the maze.  I should say through the obstacle course.  An obstacle course of hard-as-hell realities."

Full Circle

This is my last post on this book.

Ayanna talked to Nicole.  She wanted their relationship to come into full circle.  Of course, Nicole will decide.  She always makes the decisions for the three of them.  But this time, Nicole was hesitant.  I think this was what led her to quickly come into a decision.

She went to Darrell's hotel  to tell him about the plan.  But Darrell used this moment to use his power.  And I really hated him for doing so.  Of course, Nicole was furious; this one even made her strengthen her decision.  And I know that it was just what is was supposed to be.

In the morning, Ayanna came.  And all three of them started to run.  This time, they're doing the same routine that Ayanna and Darrell took a few days back - where Ayanna and Darrell made a bet and Ayanna lost by a hairline.  And her lost was my lost, too, because I wanted her to win.  The pot was anything, anything you want.  Ayanna wanted Erick to leave Oakland.  And leave Nicole alone.  Not even an e-mail.  What Darrell wants?  The same thing, of course.

And this was when it happened.

And this is exactly the reason why I smelled disaster.

While they were waiting for help, they both knew that they had to do something.  She was lying unconscious on the road and they went over to her.  CPR.  As the author said, he was her heart and she was her lungs.  Then, after a few seconds, he was her lungs and she was her heart.  This was beautifully said.

At the hospital later, some nurse asked them who administered CPR, and they said they did.  Nurse said, that saved her life.

She was in a coma for twelve days.  And when she finally gained consciousness miraculously, they helped each other with her rehabilitation until she was back home and back on her feet.  At this point,  Darrell has to claim his prize.  And he said to her, "Just be nice to her forever."

Then, it was time for Darrell to decide.  He fell in love with two women in entirely different ways.  To help him move on, he told himself that he will remove one of the seven bracelets (she gave him seven - one for every year) every six months until the last one.  This bracelet is exactly the same as what Ayanna and Nicole have.

This time, Nicole doesn't make the decisions.  It was him who decided for the three of them.  And he knows that whatever he decides will be good for all of them; all means not only for the three of them but for all of their families.

I wanted to talk about who gets who in the end.  But I know it would be a spoiler - if this isn't yet.  This is also the reason why I just used to pronoun her at some points on this post.  Probably the only thing I can say that I hope is not a give away is the fact that I am quite surprised by the way things ended.  And I really admire Erick Jerome on how he put the twists in order to come to the end.

Just one more thought.  I think the explicit scenes were just an exhibition of the author's articulateness and creativity.  But for me, it was really unnecessary.

I gave this book four stars.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wast it intentional?

The tape clicked.

And Ayanna was startled.

I don't know if Darrell did that intentionally or he just forgot that he pushed the record button.

But either way, Darrell sensed power with the tape.  But I smell disaster.  Whatever the tape holds should just be between Darrell and Ayanna.  And I say not one more soul.

There isn't a part of me that says that Nicole should hear the tape.  Because even if Darrell senses he could win over Ayanna because of this tape, I say that nobody wins when this gets out between them.  I just hope I could talk to Darrell to stop him from getting this to Nicole.  I just hope that I can help Ayanna stop him.

Darrell got ready to leave.  Ayanna asked if he is going to see Nicole, but he didn't answer.

My heart beats fast.

How can you put this book down on this part?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Darrell meets his friend

It's always good to talk to friends, especially during those times when you couldn't decide on a very important matter.

It's not that her opinion would count on your decision.  They're being there help us a lot to clear things out, to sometimes look at it from the outside or simply just to hear ourselves talk about what bothers us.

And it's even better to have friends who could give us insights without being judgmental.  They can hear us out and still love us.  They can hear us and still give us the unbiased opinion we could hear.  Well, it's true that they can be biased sometimes, but then again, they still help us see things from a different angle.

Darrell had to clear his mind.  It's a good thing that his friend was also in a town where he is doing some book signing.  He talked about the issue and his friend listened.  He just listened.

What's bothering Darrell?

Nicole wants him them to try and bring their relationship to the next level.  But Darrell thinks he is not ready yet.  Or rather, Darrell thinks there is no point of even bringing their relationship to that level.

I really couldn't believe that it even came from Nicole.  It would have been kind of trivial if it came from Darrell.  This brings me to wonder what kind of woman Nicole is.  What is her level of satisfaction?  What is it that she's still looking for, when she seems to have everything she wants?

A man who loves her.  A woman who loves her.  A career that is rewarding.

What makes her think about bringing their relationship to that other level?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Between Lovers by Erick Jerome Dickey

This book was lent to me by a friend and I didn't even know what it was all about when she handed it over to me.  At that time, I was just looking for any book with large fonts, big enough for me to read, because I was having trouble with my vision.  After a while, I got to have a new specs and started this right after that thing about cameras.

Here's the preview:
"No.  Love it.  I miss this.  We used to be like this all the time.  Damn near every night."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I got this book on sale.  And while reading it and finding out that it was written before the age of digital cameras makes me wonder if it is even worth it.  But it is still.  Since he's talking not about the technicalities of a camera, but rather what is it to be a photographer and what is an artist.

I am actually searching for something else inside the book.  Something that I didn't find until the end.  What is it?  I am not sure yet.  But I feel like there should be something else.

In between the chapters, I wrote on my notepad something about photoshop.  He did actually discuss something about it and I couldn't help but write my thoughts about photoshop.

I don't know photo shop, and didn't have the urge to learn.  When I see a picture so neat, I sometimes react this way:  It's photoshpped.

It just seems so ordinary these days that people can take pictures and do something with photoshop to make it look good - to make it look even better.

The author is trying to define the line between being a photographer and and artist.  And when photoshop came into the spotlight, I begin to wonder.  Would you say that a person who is good with photoshop is an artist?  And I think this is what the author is also trying to point out.  A person who is good with photoshop did not create the image.  And even if he was the one who shot it himself, applying photoshop only means that he wants to alter that moment.  The one who shot the picture is the photographer- or the artist.  The photoshop person only applies his knowledge in photoshop to alter the image.  And if he is both the one who shot and the one who photshopped, what talent does he possess?  Is he a photographer or a photoshopper?

Does this make him an artist?  Or just a photographer?  Or just a photoshopper?

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