Angelo Suarez, &wich
This one speaks for itself.

Mesandel Virtusio Arguelles, Alinsunurang Awit at Alingaw

Alinsunurang Awit (UST Publishing, 2010) should be available in local bookstores soon. I wrote the blurb for Alingaw (High Chair, 2010), a book project that happened alongside and within Ayer’s Awit:

Pagkalipas ng matinding agos ng kawalan, ang mga tula sa Alingaw ni Mesandel Virtusio Arguelles ang siyang umahon at nanatili. Pira-piraso, tagni-tagni, bawat tula ay tapat na tugon sa panganib ng tuluyang paglaho ng salita. Bawat tula ay awit na nangigibabaw sa kabila ng akit at dali ng pananahimik.

Alingaw is currently out of print but will hopefully be available again soon.

Adam David, The El Bimbo Variations (3rd edition)

Here are three of six covers especially made for the third edition of The El Bimbo Variations (Youth and Beauty Brigade, 2010) as well as my short introduction to the latest edition.

This latest incarnation of The El Bimbo Variations is not quite itself. In fact, the signs of change are too instantly apparent that this version can be nothing less than a radical departure from previous editions. To begin with, this edition comes in six different covers—there have been two other covers in the past two years—designed by the author, the act of variation surfacing from the inside pages to grace the very appearance of the book. The covers are individually and collectively stunning, bound to yank out of nowhere, in even the most sedate of readers, that unbearable sensation known as the collect-them-all itch. Clearly, in Adam David’s book, anything worth doing is worth doing in excess, which is why the variations themselves are not left untouched by his ongoing pentab-mediated artistic activity. Several text variations have been retired and in favor of graphic ones, James Joyce’s linguistic convolutions giving way to visual hopscotch via Connect-the-Dots, the mechanical tone of Telegram converted into portrait of Paraluman via ASCII art. This edition also welcomes the participation of artist extraordinaire Josel Nicolas, who further expands the collection’s visual register through his pen-and-ink renditions in comics form of fifteen variations. The tally of transformations chronicle David’s current extravagant privileging of the visual over the verbal, making this edition quite the looker. It is one to turn heads and trigger double takes. It is literary eye candy.

A book about constant reinvention shouldn’t repeat itself, and thanks to the artistic flexibility that comes with self-publishing, as proven by this latest edition, The El Bimbo Variations doesn’t have to. A publishing scheme that rigidly prioritizes low costs and the least amount of labor can so easily kill an insanely good idea, especially if it entails multiple editions that are also distinctly different versions. Given full control over the book’s production, David can achieve its premise—that there are infinite permutations of a single idea—without compromise. It can switch and discard poses as quickly as it strikes them. It can freely yield to the act of rewriting itself again and again—a suggestion made by the first edition turned imperative by the elaborate de- and re-construction of the third. Committed to outdoing, outgrowing, and outlasting itself, this book is a bold statement against artistic stagnation. I wouldn’t be surprised if, many editions later, The El Bimbo Variations hardly resembles its early self, no longer bears traces of its initial poses, and is literally a new book.