ADRIAN GONZALES EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
JERICK SANCHEZ CREATIVE DIRECTOR
AIRIZ CASTA MANAGING EDITOR
MAXINE CADACIO, MIKAELA DAYAO EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
DEBBIE NUÑEZ LAY-OUT AND CONTENT UNIT HEAD
GWILEN PULIA WEB EDITOR / HEAD GRAPHIC DESIGNER
10 OCCUPY 30 THE KIDS ARE NOT ALRIGHT 40 SI STARSAN AT SI CHEETAE 64 RETURN OF THE MAN 64 ANG MAMATAY NG DAHIL SAYO 78 SCINTILLA 88 RUNAWAYS 100 NIGHT PRINCESSES 110 WHAT ABOUT HER
ARTICLES 126 132 138 120 200 128 204
KNEIL MELICANO DEX FERNANDEZ ULRIKE THEUSNER TREND REPORT STYLE ANYWHERE CIOCCOLATA THE DESCENT OF A GLASS PRISON
206 OUT OF THE REZ
ARTWORKS 146 158 166 172 182 192
ANNA HIGGIE ARIEL MAGYAWE JANINE AVENIDO VINCENT QUILOP VICTORIA VIRAY BETH HOECKEL
EDITORS NOTE Dear Zone Magazine Readers, 2012 has just begun! So how did you guys spend the holiday’s season? Hopefully, everyone enjoyed and experienced a great start! ZONE has been under a lot of work too, so as its current Editor in Chief, I apologize for the late release of our third issue – hopefully however, all that work pays off as we start the year with a bang as ZONE features more artists and more content that’s better than ever. ZONE’s theme for its third issue is entitled “REVOLT,” a title we found apt to the ever changing nature of the magazine. In lieu with the magazine’s desire to encompass various forms of artistry in the industry, the third issue chooses to focus on the use of mixed media. As such, we combine graphics and illustrations together with photos for this issue – a homage to ZONE Magazine’s first two covers: Valerie Chua’s illustration cover and editorial covers of Charlene Almarvez and Brent Chua respectively. It is a deviation from the usual use of a single media in creating art. ZONE believes that a “mixed media issue” involving fashion should be created, thus the birth of this issue’s theme and concept. ZONE has a lot of new things in store for you guys. Likewise, expect changes in the upcoming issues too. These changes allude to the magazine’s theme in itself – REVOLT! Those changes partly include a new Editor in Chief who will be running the upcoming issues of ZONE starting March. Yes, you heard
that right: this will be my last issue as ZONE’s EIC. But I’m not leaving without giving you guys a good time so do check out this issue’s content and always support ZONE in its endeavors in creating a platform for artists of all kinds. As its EIC for the first three issues, I thank everyone who’s supported ZONE in ways more than one. I have read a lot of messages, emails, and I’ve even received a phone call or two from various sectors in the industry and I just wanted to say that I’m thankful for each one who believed in the vision of ZONE. I have never been a magazine editor in my life, so to actually have been invited for this position has been a blessing for me, more so for everything that I’ve learned and that hopefully someday, I’m able to impart these lessons to you guys in ways beyond what am capable right now. I do believe that whoever will be taking over ZONE will continue its vision that it has, since the start, promoted, advocated and adhered to. Like how one famous saying goes, “revolutions happen like refrains in a song,” change happens often and sometimes, faster than one thinks. All the while, change is good – it promotes progress, and it helps keep the magazine evolving. I leave ZONE knowing its tradition for excellence and the avant garde is kept, never settling for anything less. - Adrian Gonzales ZONE Editor in Chief
CONTRIBUTORS WHAT YOU DID FOR THIS ISSUE? I did the makeup for the cover girl-slash-super model Pauline Camille Prieto. It was a breeze working with the Zone team. YOUR EXPERIENCES WHILE DOING IT? The styling was amazing but the best part is, it felt like playing with long time friend and photographer Jerick.
WHAT YOU DID FOR THIS ISSUE? I portrayed two princesses at night in the touristic city of Benidorm, located Southern Spain. YOUR EXPERIENCES WHILE DOING IT? It is always a pleasure to work with a great team of professionals in stylism, makeup and hair. On this shoot we worked with fantastic models from Carmen Durán & Kara agencies, and with the fabulous designs from Higinio Mateu, Siglo Cero, Rebeca Sanver, Daluna & La petite Rousse. We were shooting all night long and it was a very cool experience.
WHAT YOU DID FOR THIS ISSUE? These are some examples of my recent work. They are images I have created for a variety of clients over the last year or so. I created most of these illustrations in my studio in Bristol. I love being in my studio, it’s the place where I feel most happy and relaxed. YOUR EXPERIENCES WHILE DOING IT? I created most of these illustrations in my studio in Bristol. I love being in my studio, it’s the place where I feel most happy and relaxed. WHAT YOU DID FOR THIS ISSUE? The concept was done by a collective decision making between me and my brother, David. His idea was to incorporate fashion style with Jose Rizal and we’re both keen on the idea. In the outcome of this concept, we want Jose Rizal to be “re-recognized” by people unknown to him and especially who had already forgotten about him. His Noli Me Tangere and El Fili are not just textbooks we read during elementary school. He died writing it. YOUR EXPERIENCES WHILE DOING IT? Honestly, I have simply forgotten about him. It’s a shame, really. But I’m not alone in this. I’m really thankful for my brother for helping me out in this endeavor. Reimagining Rizal in this particular style truly gives me understanding about him in a different way. Also I would like to thank Raffy for the shortl write-up. His writing skill is beyond admirable.
Square Peg in a Round Hole There may not be an official handbook of the fashion industry’s favorite features in a model, but there is no question that Pauline Prieto has ripped the boundaries of the usual physical must-haves of anyone who aspires to enter the dizzyingly glamorous realm of modeling. Her majestic patchwork of unconventional beauty is made up of her gap-toothed look, spunky attitude, and that enchanting aura that seems to shroud her svelte frame. There is something very irresistible about her, what with her footfalls leaving a certain kind of magnetism that can automatically turn heads. It’s as if she’s leaving a trail of love perfume in her wake. Don’t believe it? Check out Cosmopolitan’s roster of their 2011 sexiest models. Or ask the folks at the Elite Model Look competition, where she represented the Philippines. Or just converse with celebrity stylist Liz Uy and photographer BJ Pasqual—they will surely talk about the magic that this half-Spanish beauty has. No wonder she easily skyrockets to the top once setting her foot past the doorjamb of her nondescript life into the fashion industry. Even the ZONE team wasn’t able to escape the effect she has, when she sits with us and unveils a few things about herself.
never been more thankful.” When it comes to inspiration, it seems like her creative juices don’t need much of a push. Substance and “the instances that rally between” get her going. Her lineup of fashion icons is also as exquisite as her beauty: there’s Rooney Mara, who stars as a Goth hacker in David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; there’s the quirky title character in bunny costume from the sci-fi psychological flick Donnie Darko; and there’s sociopath Alex Delarge from the big screen adaptation of Alex Burgess’ dystopian novella A Clockwork Orange. Even when talking about the people she considers “ideal” in fashion, Pauline is practically a square peg in a round hole. She also shares a few glimpses of herself that only a few people seem to know. It is evident that she has some kind of wanderlust, for if she were not a model now, she believes she would be overdosing in different cultures from travelling. She says she’ll juggle this globetrotting with her studies, as she wishes to finish her course in interior design. “I can also make sushi!” she offers playfully.
She strongly believes that fashion is both a Unlike most models that entered the fashion in- weapon and a platform for adoration. “You can dustry, Pauline assures us the girl that she was either praise someone for looking marvelous or before she became a model and the girl that find something wrong with them and poke at it,” she is right now is still the same person. “I’m she explains. still me!” she laughs. “And I have a cult of high When asked what advice she could give to girls school friends who can back me up on that.” who want to follow her footsteps, she says to She considers herself lucky to be discovered make it a point to remember that confidence is by Liz Uy during a mall show for Collezione. Uy sexy as long as it doesn’t become arrogance. picked her and endorsed her to Preview maga“Be tough and make sure your spine is intact,” zine, which jumpstarted her career. “This is all she adds. still shocking, to be honest,” she says. “I’ve
KNEIL MELICANO Imagine Red Riding Hood strolling down a forest path that mysteriously bleeds a few shades of scarlet. As she gets closer, you realize she’s not so little after all—and the sight of the Big Bad Wolf pelt she’s donning sends a chill down your spine. Furtively, she slides a pistol into her basket as purses her blood-red lips at you. That’s when it hits you: this is not the girl that everyone told you is a brainchild of Disney or the Brothers Grimm. No. She hails from the mind of Kneil Melicano. And just if you think that scene comes from a reimagined fairytale that he penned, you’re wrong. It’s from RED, a piece of art that has become so popular, you can see it plastered on the shirts of almost every storybook buff you encounter. It can weave a thousand stories, from one that has strong feministic implications to just a treat for fairytale purists that prefer grit to happy endings. This is just one of his astonishingly beautiful works. A lot of people may ask, what is the story of this one man that creates one image with a hundredfold possible tales? ZONE gives you a glimpse of it: the life Melicano himself believes belongs to a “nondescript” illustrator.
“ if you’re not getting something out of your talent, you must be doing it wrong. There should be a good balance. One cannot live on dream alone or dance for peanuts.”
Q : What inspires a certain Kneil Melicano in art and in life as a whole? K: A mere Kneil Melicano? There, fixed it for you (laughs). Well, I get my inspiration from daily mundane stuff. From the unconventional, to the stereotypical, back to uninspiringly boring. Mashed together, who knows what beautiful accident you might produce? Q: How did you get started as an artist? K: I still find the word “artist” quite heavy. I feel like I haven’t even done much works out there. Especially right now. “Illustrator” is something I’m more at peace with. Well, I’ve been drawing my whole life since I can remember and in lieu of the question, probably my entire existence. Q: What do you think sets your artworks apart from that of other artists? K: Nothing. I am not the Kate Moss of the design industry. I’m a normal talent from this pool of smug “artists”.
Q: Who are the artists (local or foreign) that you consider as your idols? K: I look up to a lot of people. Peers and foreign talents alike. I have my eye on Biscup and Trochut at the moment. Q: What your greatest achievement as an artist so far? K: Being a person with very short attention span, probably when I was able to say to myself that this is what I really intend to do for most of my life. Q: What are the perks of being an artist? K: You can be pious and get away with stuff. Or not, I don’t know. I haven’t come across the perks so far.
Q: “Starving artist” is an old stereotype to imply there is not much money or bright future in the field of arts. In the course of your career, have you ever experienced being a ‘starved’ artist? What advice can you give to Q: Do you have a favorite in all your works? people who want to pursue a career in the K: I feel like I have yet to do my best work to date. arts but are discouraged that there is not I’ll send it to you guys in postcard form. enough money the profession produces? K: It’s absurdity! In this age of time, if you’re not Q: We learned that due to your sheer love getting something out of your talent, you must be for “perya” arriving in lieu of fiestas when you doing it wrong. There should be a good balance. were still in Nueva Ecija, you once attempt- One cannot live on dream alone or dance for peaed to join a traveling circus. Does your love nuts. for circuses inspire some of your works? See more of Kneil’s work at www.kneilmelicano.com K: Just the creepy part. Ain’t the fun part.
The Man behind the Kaleidoscopic Paints and Collages by Airiz Casta An artistic prowess that blurs the line between what is art and what is taboo. Patchworks of existing art with the artist’s esoteric language bleeding through them. Intricate splatters of paint that brings forth a plethora of new ideas from the seemingly flat meanings of old works. These are just a handful of phrases that will spring to mind once you enter the world of Filipino artist Dex Fernandez. With his brainchildren reminiscent of a glimpse from Bill Sienkiweicz’s take on the world of DC Comics character Delirium, Dex showcases his talent and love for his profession not only in the Philippines but also in other countries. Just fresh from an art show in Vermont, Dex talks with the ZONE team to give us another glimpse about him. Q: In a few words, define what kind of art a certain Dex Fernandez usually does. A: Chaos and juxtapose, random but black and white. Q: As a young kid young boy you have probably heard that there is no money—and future, usually—in the arts. What made you pursue a career in the said field? A: Yes, that line is already a cliché back when I’m still young. I thought it’s true, but it always depends on the artist, if he or she is not serious in his/her craziness. I decided to pursue my career because I absolutely love this, regardless of the money or everything. I enjoy the
balance of my lifestyle here. However, God is always good to me—he gave me rewards in so many ways! Q: What is your biggest achievement as an artist so far? A: My biggest achievement so far, I think, is that I can do major shows and solo exhibitions now. For me it’s a serious matter. Q: Have you ever encountered controversies about your work (especially about XOXOXO and your “Jesus Rockstar” art)? A: Hmm, my [XOXOXO] exhibition is, like, underground. There’s no public media who had a chance to see it, so I’m still in the safe zone. But I do think there’s a little controversy in my scene, because most people, including collectors and galleries, are not into it. I think they’re still thinking inside the box and they don’t understand my world. The artworks that they usually subscribe to are done by artists who are playing safe and only want money. Q: We have seen a video of you with Chicano artists Alex Rubio and Vincent Valdez in Vermont working on a mural. Artists are known to have keen observation skills—based on what you have seen of the work of the two, what do you think are the differences and similarities of your art styles? A: We do have a lot of differences in art, especially our tastes and styles, but mostly we have the same thinking because of our culture is close to theirs. One of the best things in the collaboration project are the conversation between the artists. It’s like there’s an automatic dialogue in the works! It’s so surprising and it’s so fun.
Ulrike Theusner Ulrike Theusner, German-bred Artist & Muse sits down with Taylor Edward Freeman to discuss the past, present, future, and... Art. TEF: Where are you from originally? UT: I’m born in Frankfurt Oder, right next to the Polish border in the deepest east of Germany. We later moved to Berlin and Weimar, where I went to school and University. TEF: How long ago did you start painting? And from a young age, did you feel creatively inclined? UT: I remember I have been drawing since I was a kid, like every kid. Most kids stop drawing because some stupid adult comes along and says it doesn’t look realistic enough, so they stop and never draw again. I just kept going. Since my father is a musician, I grew up surrounded by artists all the time, mostly actors and singers from the theatre. I think that has influenced me too. When I was fourteen I started to paint with acrylics and sometimes oils. That was after visiting the Edward Munch Museum in Oslo. His work was really intense, I felt for the first time that a simple painting can really influence you. I just felt like I could really relate to that work and to the medium and decided to become a painter.
for other people to see where ideas come from. When I used to travel a lot, I had many ideas coming in transitory spaces like airplanes, airports or weird amusement parks. Foucault calls that NON LIEUX, Non- spaces. They are very inspiring for me. TEF: Your work is often described as having an eerie (dark) feel and yet somehow laced with some sort of childlike nature. Where do you think this comes from?
UT: The dark side comes from a certain melancholia, which is essential for creativity, I believe. I TEF: Where do you find yourself spending most try to assimilate my fears somehow. Or just realof your time? Tell us what environment you find ity. Skulls and death are always a topic, and have yourself thriving in artistically. always been a subject for me. Playing around is also important, I love to have fun when I work and UT: In Germany I’m mostly in my studio, a loft-kind not take things too seriously all the time. I think a of room with huge windows. I try to spend every good artwork has to be authentic. I always try to minute there. On the wall are lots of pictures and work very intuitively. drawings and stuff that influence me. I call it the Inspiration Wall. Next year, I’m planning to show TEF: Also, we’ve read that you recently took on it in a Museum as an Installation of my Working some projects working with installation, what was Situation in the studio. I think that it is interesting this like?
UT: Some of the installations are very small situations, landscapes I built with minuscule dolls, the ones that you would normally put in small railway landscapes. Now I’m planning on larger-scaled projects, like that Working Situation that I mentioned earlier, a sort of paperboard wonderland or even a city of favelas-little box houses, maybe also projections. But the ideas still need to grow.
space for the richer yuppies that make the city boring. I can imagine Berlin expanding more and more within the coming years. Right now, however, I still prefer Leipzig. TEF: Where do you see yourself in 14 years? What would you personally like to accomplish as an artist, if anything?
UT: I would love to have a very huge Studio and lots of time to create. I don’t know in which city I will work, I can imagine somewhere in or around Berlin, if it’s not too yuppie-like by then. As an artUT: I think there will always be a surplus of artists ist, I just hope I can work as freely and intuitively and always those who buy art. It will be maybe as I do now, having enough belief to start and finmore difficult for younger, unknown artists to get ish my projects, being established enough to not established. People are obsessed with youth, so worry anymore about how to pay rent next month you have to ‘make it’ before you turn 35. But it is and…oh yes, I ´m not sick. different than in the 80’s when artists became artstars overnight. I think it takes a bit longer now, TEF: What has been the biggest barrier for you as but as an artist you have to be careful not to be- an artist in the modern Art world? come spoiled. The market is like an aquarium with UT: First of all, you need to have a particular work, some huge fishes and a few smaller ones, but lots your own style. That’s already a problem, because of plankton, and there isn’t much in between. The far too many young artists are very influenced on big fishes are Art-Superstars like Hirst and Koons, what sells at the moment and try to do the same auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christies, col- kind of stuff, by losing their authenticity. The seclectors like Pinault and Saatchi, and a handful of ond problem, especially for someone who gradubig galleries. Then, nothing. Then, the plankton. ated in a smaller art school, is to get good conMe. But you can have a good life as a plankton tacts. After art school, you cannot have a break too. I guess.. and lose too much time with side jobs, you need TEF: How do you feel about the ‘Art World’ currently, previously, and how do you personally see it developing further?
to get scholarships, residences and artist grants. There is a saying: “it rains there where it’s wet already.” Young artists who win a grant or prize will win another one, and so on. You just need to start and get that first big thing. And yet, besides all of UT: I’m always skeptical of all sorts of hype, but that you also need a bit of luck: having the right Berlin is still a great place to work. Since my family idea, at the right time, in the right place. is originally from Berlin, I feel very related to the city: it’s vast yet still feels provincial, an amalga- TEF: How do you feel about the ‘Occupy’ movemation of small villages. There is not even any- ment, specifically in New York, as you’ve spent a thing comparable to skyscrapers. It has an intense great deal of time there? history, completely destroyed in the World War, di- UT: I really support the ‘Occupy’ movement and vided not only in two parts, but in two completely I find it very interesting how it develops. Finally, different world-systems for years. There is lots of the people realize, they are “the 99 Percent” and a weird architecture, which makes for a good inspir- delicate breeze of revolution blows in the street... ing mix, attracting people from all over the world I wish I could have been there this past autumn. who make it very international. I hope it stays People realize they need a change, a system cheap, trash and wasted for a bit longer. They are change. I wonder when that will happen. It feels fixing it up now and replacing cool art spaces with like the late 1920’s, that crisis that also influences hotels and expensive housing, sort of like what my art. In “The New York Diaries” you have the happened to downtown New York. But artists will colorful version of apocalypse. (Goya Fall) just move out of the expensive areas and make TEF: Berlin is a hot topic at the moment given the influx of artists. You are often in Berlin for work, correct? Do you see it as a lasting fixture in the modern Art world?
TEF: And Patriotism: what does this bring to mind Norway, or the States. for you? TEF: Well, Ulrike, it’s been lovely talking with you. UT: Patriotism is often a subject of my work. In Thank you for doing this interview and we hope to “Independence Day” you see a guy ironing the catch up with you soon. See you in Paris maybe? American flag. Another work shows a starred-and- NYC? Berlin? striped-flag pretty fucked up, I painted it after a picture I took in Coney Island, symbolic not only UT: I Love you Edward... We will meet soon in for America’s situation. I think a normal, healthy Washington Square for coffee and cigarettes... amount of patriotism is important. However, in To view more work by Ulrike or for a sneak peek Germany you won’t see a lot of flags, only every on what she’s working on next, four years for soccer World Cup games. German history is too heavily loaded, so people are careful visit www.Ulrike-Theusner.de showing their patriotism as opposed to France or
Cioccolata: The New Cafe in the Corner Intramuros is famous not only for being a tourist spot but also for housing some prestigious universities in Manila within its walls. Tourists will surely seek a good place where they can relax and take a break after a long day of exploration, and students tend to look for a space to chill during break time or an area to study when the library gets too crowded. Cioccolata: The Churros Café offers a variety of affordable pastries and hot or blended coffees. True to its name, the churros café serves some of the tastiest freshly made churros with dips of your choice. Aside from the churros and your desired coffee, they also have cupcakes, croissants, and cheesecakes. If you crave for a heavier snack, they also have homemade and healthy sandwiches. There is also a big selection of tea and smoothies to choose from, so non-coffee drinkers can still enjoy the dining experience. The café is a chic and trendy place to have a get-together with friends or have small meetings for group projects and school activities. The laid-back interior and cozy vibes in the café make the customers stay longer. If people-watching is one of your hobbies, you’ll definitely love to hang out at Cioccolata. There are large windows where you can clearly see tourists, passersby, and students going to their destinations. Cioccolata is one of the food and beverage outlets of The Bayleaf hotel. It can be seen beside the entrance of the hotel.
V Q incent
Q: 2011 has come and gone. Is there any remarkable feat in the fashion industry that last year will be remembered for?
A: Style Anywhere features street style and fashion week around Asia. I think there is no individual who does that yet.
A: In Asia, I believe it is the Singapore’s Men’s and Women’s Fashion Week. They were able to bring international designers into one fashion event. It was a feat for Singapore.
Q: In your career, what do you think is the best achievement you’ve had so far (as a photographer and style blogger)?
A: Being recognized by fashion magazines such as Vogue Paris, Glamour Paris,and Q: What is good style for you? What are your L’Officiel Singapore is perhaps one my biggest standards? achievement. I did not A: Style is subjective. What I may find stylish, imagine also that I will be traveling around Asia may not for others. But I believe that style is an to photograph street style and fashion and to extension of personality and character. Fashcover fashion week. I also feel privilege that I ion supports it. It should not be the other way, received invitations for fashion weeks in Milan, where in fashion Paris, London and even exclusive previews of outshines personality. Personally, I prefer two campaigns. Hopefully, there will be time when things: simplicity with a little twist and trendy I will but not overly done. be able to cover fashion week from those fashion capitals. Recently, I was also commissioned to do a street style campaign by an Q: Who do you categorize as most stylish? international clothing brand. A: For me, they are the one who stand out from the throng, without knowing that they are. They dress well, but their character and personality still shines more than their outfit. It is not too contrived. Q: Any tips for people on a budget when it comes to styling? A: Thrift shopping and buying local designs. Mix it with mid range or high end brands. Q: Describe Style Anywhere. What makes it different from other style blogs? (You may also include here various articles featuring your blog, eg. Vogue Paris, etc.)
Q: What advice would you like to give to people who want to be in the industry? A: Just like with any other industry, it is about passion and hardwork. As long as you are happy with what you are doing then continue with it. Steve Jobs said it “ Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”. Words by Adrian Gonzales
The Descent of a Glass Prison by Airiz Casta Imagine this: you are perched atop a pedestal and your lucky stars are smiling down on you. It seems like nothing could go wrong, but deep inside there’s this soft hum of doubt in your heart. Then you catch a glimpse of a fragment of your broken future, rendering you immobile. You look up to find a big bell jar descending upon you, caging you in a glass prison where there is no way out. You feel suffocated; you think of escaping, but every attempt goes awry. The chorus of the voices in your head is singing their dirge for your mind, and the noises from the outside world are distorted and unintelligible. You feel stifled, isolated, and lost. This is how Sylvia Plath more or less described the slow mental breakdown of Esther Greenwood, protagonist of her only full-length prose work, The Bell Jar. Since the book is often considered as a roman à clé or an autobiographical fiction (with Esther as the author’s thinly veiled fictional alter ego), it’s safe to say that Plath shared a firsthand account of what it was like to have a disintegrating sanity after spiraling down into depression. In the book, the parallels in Plath’s and Esther’s lives occurred between 1953 and 1954. Esther wins an internship on a prestigious New York magazine; she holds the position most girls her age would kill for, yet for some weird reason, she is confused and dissatisfied. When she learns that she is rejected from a writing course she wanted to join after her internship, she is completely devastated. She goes home with her mother, and everything goes downhill from there.
Most of the issues Esther grapples with are connected to 1950s American gender roles. Being a woman in that era seems to be synonymous with the word ‘inferior.’ Esther struggles with her identity, her status in the society, and her choice of vocation.The patriarchal society’s insistent pigeonholing of the ‘appropriate woman’ pressures her to no end, sending her to ricochet between wanting to get in sync with everybody else and needing to latch to the possibility of her lofty dreams’ realization. While women at that time are encouraged to be successful in their own chosen fields, they are also expected to be subservient housewives— sacrificing their career and dreams—when they marry. “This seemed a dreary and wasted life for a girl with fifteen years of straight A’s,” Esther ponders after envisaging the quotidian life a suburban housewife. The book, in its depiction of men as shallow individuals with usually off-kilter morals, seems to ridicule the established fact of feminine inferiority. However, it also shows several aspects of women’s vulnerability in a world that refuses to take their aspirations seriously. Esther herself is an example—she is intelligent all right, but her inability to take part in the normality of the world around her (or is it the inability of the world to accommodate a woman like her?) causes her sanity to crumble. The book also touches issues about dating, relationship, and sex that are still relevant today. Why are women who had many sexual partners in the past considered “sluts” when men with the same reputation are referred to as the “cool guys”? Does having premarital sex prove I’m a bad woman? Does not having any sexual intercourse before marriage prove I’m prude? These are only few of the questions Esther finds herself asking. Since I’m aware of Plath’s fate, the reading experience came with an excitement closely akin to opening letters addressed to a celebrity that
somehow wound up on my doorsteps. My thrill meter went up a notch when I find many moments of Esther’s life unnervingly relatable, especially in the first few chapters. But what I liked the most about the novel is the astonishing honesty of Plath’s prose—it’s so naked and unflinching, so determined in showing you the raw facets of life and death in the eyes of someone who is trying to experience both…and seemingly failing. I myself didn’t know how to describe it at first. And of course, there are parts that will remind you that you are reading the Plath, paragraphs that are punctuated with a poetic feel. As evidenced by the effective depiction of 1950s America, I’ll say the world-building is ace…even if (or especially?) it’s seen through the kaleidoscopic perspective of a mentally disturbed lady. Overall, The Bell Jar is an excellent book that I will definitely revisit in the future. There are some moments involving electroconvulsive therapies and multiple suicide attempts, but they’re nothing really harrowing. I highly recommend this! :)
Out of the Rez a Pocketful of Hope, a Bucketful of Tears by Airiz Casta It’s a massive understatement to say life is hard for someone like Arnold Spirit, Junior. Being geeky and having hydrocephalus, epilepsy, stutter, lisp, and extra ten teeth made an outsider out of the aspiring fourteen-year-old cartoonist in an already outsider of a community. He’s used to the feel of punches and kicks on his body and the sharp stings of barbs on his heart; to take the edge off, he uses his humor and talent in the arts. “I belong to the Black-Eye-of-the-Month Club,” he jests when referring to the bullying. “I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats,” he says about his drawings. Like everybody else in the Spokane Indian Reservation, Junior acknowledges the fact that they are destined to be poor for the rest of their lives… but only at first. He has a lot of dreams, and deep inside he knows he will not reach them if he stays in the rez. One book-hurling incident and a heartto-heart talk with a teacher later, Junior decides to change his fate: he’s going to study in an all-white school and start chasing his dreams, even if the odds are not in his favor. His choice pushes him up a step closer to being a social pariah. Everyone in the rez thinks he’s a traitor (an ‘apple’, red on the outside and white on the inside) and everyone in his new school thinks he’s different (he’s the only Indian in school…if you don’t count the mascot). Junior knows it will be a difficult journey, but he figures it’s better to search for a brighter
future than to surrender to the bleak destiny he is expected to fulfill.
but he never forgets to imply that these issues are grave enough to define the Native American life that exists even before the story starts. My favorite The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Intheme presented in it is the constant tug o’ war bedian is one of the books I’ll recommend without tween individualism and collectivism, which Junior second thoughts to people who want to have a finds himself participating in while searching for his good laugh…and perhaps a good cry. There are identity and place in the society. How do you cononly a few novels that can make my spleen hurt tinue to function in a community that sees you as from laughing too hard one minute and then break a traitor? There’s nothing like watching a boy sucmy heart the next, and this one is perhaps the ceed in dealing with the heap of new burdens his best of them. Sherman Alexie nimbly handles the own choice dropped on his shoulders, problems hilarious and poignant moments with his simple that would normally send an adult’s knees buckbut powerful writing prowess, and by that I don’t ling. What’s fascinating here is that Junior doesn’t exactly mean he uses an extraordinarily brilliant come off as precocious, like most kid geniuses in prose. I just admire how easy it is for him to make YA literature who hope to pass up as normal. He Junior sound like a genuine kid blathering about still sports the fragility of a kid, and he has a kind his uproarious mishaps after a long, exhausting of optimism no one in the rez ever possessed. school day. In short, Alexie makes the readers feel like they’re conversing with the characters instead While I cannot say all the characters are wellof actually reading a book (which, if you ask me, developed, I think a majority of them can leave a is a sign of a really good book). Even if you don’t mark deep enough in the readers’ hearts to make have a drop of Indian blood in your veins, finding them remarkable. I give Alexie a thumb up for pora friend—or bits of yourself—in Arnold is a cinch. traying everyone in gray shades; no one is one The conversational narrative helps in drawing in hundred percent hero and no one is one hundred the readers closer to the storyline. percent villain. They are justpeople, described with stark honesty in the eyes of a fourteen-year-old. I heard this is Alexie’s first foray into the young adult genre, and honestly, it doesn’t show. He 4.5 stars for an enjoyable read! I’m now considknows how a teenager’s mind works, he knows ering reading more of Alexie’s works. :) how a teenager’s mouth speaks, and he knows how to use this knowledge to reach out to all the teenagers inside of us. Interspersed with the story are the cartoons (by Ellen Forney)Arnold draws. These do not only serve as complementary illustrations, they also help the narrative to flow smoothly and provide additional humor to the story. I think the best thing about the book is how Alexie attacks serious issues like racism, poverty, alcohol and drugs usage, etc. with his sharp wit. In the process, he colors the prose with a lighter tone,
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