Para Kay B – Ricky Lee
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it is an enjoyable read–humorous, relatable, hurtful and fantastic. On the other hand–well, the other hand. Part of the reason I didn’t like this book as much is because of the language used–not Tagalog, but Taglish. And it’s not the kind of Taglish that flows easily and smoothly (because admit it, there IS a certain way of speaking and stringing English and Filipino words together that most people don’t notice that two languages are already being used); instead, it painfully reminds me of the kind of Taglish that people who portray social climbers in movies use. “Trying hard” is the term I’m looking for, I think. If you’d argue that the language is, what we now call, “conyo”, I’d say that it’s not. I studied in one of those “conyo” schools, and believe me, it did not make me cringe like I did when I was reading those trying-too-hard-to-be-dramatic-so-it’s-now-in-English-lines-when-there-are-Filipino-words-for-it(-and-it-would-have-been-smoother-too).
There were certain fantastical elements in the stories that I enjoyed, and the book was very humorous.
However, the tagline of this book is “o kung paano dinevastate ng pag-ibig ang 4 out of 5 sa atin” which is basically a very big percentage. 4 out of 5 people? Really? The 5 short stories in the book all tackle love (obviously) but there is also always one character in every store who is or is in love with someone who is abused/has been raped/is poor. Even in the Philippines, I find it a bit jarring that none of the five stories featured a “normal” family (ie not a broken home, no wives killing husbands for no reason, evil stepmothers!) or that none of them had a middle-class or upper class heroine–at least, not until they decided to go to Manila. E ano na lang nangyari dun sa mga middle-class na taga QC, Manila, ang mga mayayman na taga Forbes at Alabang; o yung mga hindi naman inabuso ng mga magulang o madrasta nila? Nakalimutan isama sa pangkalahatang populasyon kung san kinuha ang 4 out 5?
That being said, this story sometimes feels more like a teleserye than a book. From the sudden use of English sentences when a Filipino one would suffice, to how every character in this book has been abused in some way by their family, and how the characters all start out poor steers this book towards the dramatic stories that Filipinos love to watch at night. (And yes, of course this story is as engaging as those teleseryes.)
So what exactly did I like about this book? Layers. Characters.
When I read a book, there are two worlds. One is reality, and the other is the world of the book I’m reading. At a certain part of this book those two worlds (circles, if you will) formed a third. Think of it as a Venn Diagram. There’s the real world (A), there’s the fictional Para Kay B world (B), and then there’s the world where you’re reading yet you’re not fully in reality (A), thus you are in (C). Para Kay B is 5 stories within a story within a story. Yep.
At the end (aka the Narrator’s Story), it diverges more into the musings of being a writer and the power a writer has. Kind of amusing because– what the hell? Why are we suddenly talking about writing now? And then maybe, just maybe, the narrator was trying to hint that he gave the 5 love stories two different endings in one book. Although the ‘real’ ending is mentioned as the ‘real’ ending. It would have been more comprehensive if it stuck to it’s premise of “Me quota ang pag-ibig….” instead of diverging into philosophies about writing at the end.