book: news of the shaman

"news of the shaman" by karl de mesafrom what i can understand, NEWS OF THE SHAMAN is a collection of four stories all happening in the same universe. heck, the bulk of the story happens in the same town in quezon city: novaliches. and there are four separate stories happening in this universe.

the first one, ANGELORIO, sets up the premise of the story. of how the supernatural has already found acceptance in our world of science and technology. they are effectively married, and their magical properties are already being abused.

ANGELORIO also sets up two characters who will play a major part in two separate stories later on.

NEWS OF THE SHAMAN is the second story from the book; and it’s the one i found hardest to follow. it’s a collection of transcripts from different forms of the mass media: you have a radio show, newspaper clippings, and news broadcasts. the second story tells of cruez, an influential man seeped in the supernatural–and he is being tried for a murder he may or may not have committed.

i must say that i was a little disappointed of NEWS OF THE SHAMAN the story. i thought it was an idea worth exploring, but the “clippings” approach felt very much like a cop-out. at the same time, i think the “clippings” approach made it harder for me to follow, since i don’t belong in that universe. sure, the court proceedings described in the story is very similar to how a trial would be held for a celebrity here in real world philippines. but we’re talking about supernatural people here. why couldn’t there have been more to the story?

to be clear, i’m not saying i want a clear-cut explanation of what’s going on. i’m also not saying that everything needs to be spelled out. what i want to say is that maybe the author could’ve just picked one character and followed the story from his (or her) point of view.

the third story, FAITH IN POISON, goes down memory lane with one of the characters from ANGELORIO. since the events of, or maybe even before the events of ANGELORIO, the protagonist seems to have already been steeped in the world of recreational drugs.

i found myself not liking the third story mainly because of a bias. i’m not a fan of stories where recreational drugs are used by characters without, it seems, any repercussions for their actions. yes, we get one character who reflects on how the drugs are affecting him, but that’s pretty much it.

by this story, NEWS OF THE SHAMAN the book was starting to read not like a horror novel, but a bleak outlook into the lives of filipinos. so much for the blurb “enough of boring epiphanies, quiet middle-class household conflicts…” that lourd de veyra gave the book.

reading the book became a bit of a chore by the time i finished FAITH IN POISON. and then we get BRIGHT MIDNIGHT. it saved the book, in my opinion.

in BRIGHT MIDNIGHT, we go into the life of a tertiary character in the first story (ANGELORIO) and follow the lives he had affected when he was alive, and after he had died. it tells the story in four perspectives, four threads, that weave one amazing story–and then it takes you back to the events of the first story.

i’d recommend for people to buy this book if only for BRIGHT MIDNIGHT. the rest of the stories found in NEWS OF THE SHAMAN, i think would only attract the more academically-inclined people, those who will probably find deeper meanings in the words the author had written.

check out video footage of the author posted over at rocket kapre.

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One thought on “book: news of the shaman

  1. Pingback: Filipino Friday 17 « Filipino Book Bloggers

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