The Experiment: Taxonomy

This is a couple of weeks overdue, but now that the holidays are over we’re back on track with The Experiment. This is the second-to-the-last installment (oh how time flies), and the first one that Abbey doesn’t have art in because she’s currently out of the country.

This week, our theme is Taxonomy. Being a science major (albeit, or perhaps especially because of the fact that that is a science degree in Psychology), classification has always been something that has fascinated me because of how automatically we do it: this person is for laughing with, that shirt is for looking fly, this song is for dancing to. The difficult thing about this particular theme (for me) was how to do it subtly. I was tempted to do the expected thing which I feel was to split up the sections of the narrative into different purposes, and so i tried to make this as unified as possible. I hope you guys enjoy this! Click on the photo below to head to the download link!

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Why don’t you take your heart out?

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There are very few things that are both simple and complex enough to make me feel like everything is going to be okay. One of those things has always been music: in particular, the kind of rock n’ roll that compels you to get a’dancing and which has a singular, complicated emotion running through it. I recently found that in The 1975. (HUGE shout out to Freesia, who introduced me to them!) It’s been a long time since I felt this way about a band (2003, Rooney), and it’s a feeling I’ve missed: the undoubting, unrelenting desire to dance and sing along to a song you know by heart.

Last night’s concert was hands down, one of the best that I’ve ever been to. I have seen a number of bands in concert and this was the one that I felt was the most thought-out and the most prepared for–they changed up a lot of their usual tricks, as if knowing that everyone in Manila is internet-obsessed (which we are; when Matty said “This is a love song” and they didn’t play Robbers, you can tell they’d just one-upped everybody because of that pause between when the intro started and when people started singing along). The lights were incredible, the crowd was extremely enthusiastic and of course, the music was fucking amazing.

Matty Healy knows how to handle a crowd. There’s something very charming and carefree but also tentative and sincere about the way that he talks to the audience. That’s something I haven’t seen before, or at least not to that degree. Last night was a pendulum of emotions: I was excited, anxious, euphoric, and then heartbroken (to have it all end so quickly). I was initially going to go alone but then turns out my friend Benjo was also going, but I feel like even if I had gone alone, everyone there was on such a high that I think it would’ve been fun anyway. The (other) guy beside me knew all the words to all the songs from the EP, and guessed each song spot-on just based on the spiels given beforehand. Dance like no one’s watching, and all that jazz.

In Love with Impossible Things

I’m releasing a new book on Saturday, January 17th–one that is decidedly, barely a book because it is unbound, unconventionally structured: nearly impossible. This project has been on my mind for a couple of months now, perhaps as a result of (or maybe just a symptom of an earlier obsession which lead to) marathoning all eight serieses of Doctor Who. I find that I am constantly, consistently in love with impossible things: things that can’t be done, that won’t be done but are done, anyway (despite there being no proof, or only tangential evidence for the existence of that adventure).

In On the Impossible, you will find (truly) handwritten notes, questions, letters, postcards: scrap metal, collateral damage. I’m making less than 50 copies, and these will be sold at BLTX6 this weekend. When I thought about the art, the choice was simple: I had to have Abbey for her aesthetic which is at once jarring and dreamy, nostalgic and new. See you guys there!

Art by Arabella Paner

Bout of Books, Round 1: Oryx & Crake

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I finally finished reading this! Sometimes, when a book is really good and I know that the ending is going to break my heart (in the best way), I read it in teeny-tiny intervals: nibble at it, if you will. In this case, I barely even chewed. I sped-read through the first quarter of the book and have been spreading the last hundred pages over the last 10 months. As predicted, Margaret Atwood definitely did not disappoint. This was absolutely brilliant!

In particular, below are some of the things that I absolutely enjoyed about this book (aside from, obviously, the book itself, as a whole):

1. Language

Margaret Atwood is excellent with language. I love her voice, I love the simultaneous consistency and spontaneity of the form. Every image, every sentence is able to evoke a feeling, and the summation of those sentences is able to make you feel something greater, still. It’s extraordinary.

2. Point of View

In this book of hers in particular (before this, I read Wilderness Tips, The Blind Assassin and Moral Disorder), the strongest point is how she uses the 3rd person omniscient POV: she is able to weave in and out of time, and in and out of Snowman (the protagonist)’s consciousness to tell the story in the best possible way: so that at the end of every chapter, and every part you are left with a stone in your heart and still asking for more.

3. Plot

Despite the fact that the setting is pretty upfront and there are some pretty outrageous things that go on in this book, I love it most for its subtlety in terms of the actual plot. It reveals the vital information slowly, disguised in details, funny stories and anecdotes about day-to-day things so that when finally, you realize what is going on and where this train is headed, it’s too late.

This book was 376 pages long, and cost around Php 630.00 in the bookstore. I’d definitely give this 5 stars.

I hope you guys enjoyed this first Bout of Books update. Bout of Books is a readathon that’s going to go on until the 11th of January. Click here to see which books I plan to read for this challenge. :) Up next, I’ll be reading Dear Life by Alice Munro.

Let’s stay in touch here, on Facebook (Wonder Stories/MoarBooks) and/or on Twitter/Instagram (@winapuangco for both)! Have you guys joined this challenge? What are you reading? Let me know!

Wonder Stories

One of the things that I promised myself I would do this year is be more courageous: to be braver in not just “putting my work out there” but also talking about the things that I have “out there”. I’ve been reviewing what I think of my prose work and what I think of independent publishing, and I think that the two main things to be done are to: a) make sure the work is good and b) make sure that we’re able to talk about it properly.

I have been getting a lot of my work critiqued by sending it out to various magazines and publishing houses and have really been working toward making sure that I only put out stories that I’m proud of. However, I realize that in 2014 I didn’t really make an effort to promote any of my work, despite having been published more than I thought I would (that’s not self-deprecation, that’s self-criticism).

Wonder Stories is an effort to make the things I put out more engaging and to really talk about them. If a tree falls in a forest, and all that. This project isn’t going to be confined to just talking about stories I’ve written: while the page on this blog will mostly be download links, etc. I am also going to make it a point to talk about stories that I’ve read and to review books/talk about interesting articles over on the Wonder Stories Facebook page.

What I’m really interested in is distortion and the isolation/combination of the elements of fiction, or storytelling: what if you remove all the commas, what does it mean then? What if you only had time and no space, how does that affect depth? (I was really trying not to talk about this because I feel like half of what I do lately relates to Dr. Who, but) I feel like the exploration of “all of time and space” is possible: anything we can fathom “exists” but it all entirely depends on how well we can spin a yarn, and whether or not there is someone on the other end of that metaphysical telephone wire. This is me, calling you. This is me, saying Hello?

The gorgeous artwork for Wonder Stories is by Arabella Paner, whose collage work and poetry I feel show extreme emotional depth, ironically because of how stringent she is with the curation and selection of her images/imagery. :) Click her gorgeous work below and you’ll find yourself somewhere, somewhen else.

Wonder Stories Banner by Arabella Paner (c) 2015

Wonder Stories Banner by Arabella Paner (c) 2015

The Experiment: Voyage

This has, by far, been the most difficult week of The Experiment for me. I find that whenever I’m writing around a theme, the bigger it is, the more difficult it is for me to stick to it: what about it, exactly? Voyage is such a big word–I think of new worlds, John Smith, travel, ships, the sea, planets, exhilaration, danger. But the thing that stuck out about voyages was disappearance: the vanishing point. For somewhere to be reached, somewhere else must be left behind. And so here is our fifth chapter. Click Abbey’s eerily beautiful work below (Volition After Freud) to download the chapbook!

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The Experiment: History

I’ve been thinking about History a lot recently–I listened to this talk by Sheila Heti where she talks about “being in the moment” and she says that to be “in the moment” is really just to be: that is, we cannot help but be in past and in the future as well. That coupled with transitioning into the 12th Doctor on Dr. Who has got me really thinking about time and how people are like wells: everything they are and were, all at once.

Of all the chapters we’ve put out so far, I think I am the proudest of this one (which is a good indicator, in my opinion). Click on Arabella Paner’s Careful Myths, Distressed Limbs below to download the chapbook.
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