Anthony Swofford's Exit A

Exit A: A NovelExit A: A Novel by Anthony Swofford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When you are trapped, would you wait it out? Or would you find a way to get out?

Swofford takes another turn as he made his debut novel - a different genre from his memoirs as a marine. From Jarhead to Exit A, he put an element of first love, of Bonnie and Clyde and of conflict between nations.

Started in 1989, the novel is about Severin Boxx, son of an Air Force Colonel-trainer and Virginia Sachiko-Kindwall, daughter of the General that oversees Exit A and its enormous American air force base on the outskirts of Tokyo. Exit A is considered as the gateway to the outside world, of conflicts of Cold War, of North Korean plans to infiltrate Japan, and of its keys outside autonomy. We see that there is civilization outside - neon lights, warehouses, TV and noodle shops and Bonnie and Clyde - the most famous flick during that time.

Severin, a 17 year-old, is apparently inlove with Virginia Kindwall. The latter, being the general's daughter, is smart but defiant, thus became a petty criminal in the Japanese underworld. After Severin's rebellion with anonymity - putting Virginia's middle name as tattoo, quitting football in the middle of the game, and thrusting himself into her world, he is trapped in a trouble that is, for a teenager, way unmanageable and very much different from Bonnie and Clyde.

With a twist in the circumstance, their teenage romance ended abruptly and was reconnected by a mismanaged marriage, stale postcard, and Hideko. Soon, Severin, at his mid-thirties, embarked on a journey to find Virginia, rekindle their connections and bring her home.

Poignant and dark, Exit A is a tale of entrapment, of being jaded, and finally, of being found.

I first encountered the novel (paperback version) as a goodbuy in a Booksale branch near our residence. Though this is not part of 1001 books to read before you die, let alone part of my current group's 100 books to read for 2011-2012 (The Filipino Group in goodreads), I gave this affordable book a shot. In addition, it would not hurt if I do a fastpaced read on this, given it is thinner than my other classic novels to read on my shelf.

Part 1 is the introduction of the story and thus makes the story dragging. I am not an avid fan or war games, or of war in itself, but the scenarios described made me immersed in the story. The stiffness of the soldiers, the petty criminals, as well as the big-time kidnappers roaming some of Japan's metropolis made me realize that whatever we have here in my home city is the same as what in theirs.

Part 2 depicts the new life of Virginia and her defining moment as an adult, and elaborates the life of Severin as a PhD graduate mowing the lawn and trapped in a bizzare patient of his wife, thus inflicting a damage in their slowly dying marriage.

Part 3 makes the adventures of Severin as a middle-aged man as he looks for a way to meet Virginia and send her to her true family - her dad.

What was touching in the end is the moment when Virginia finally accepted her father into her heart, making herself whole, and Severin completing his quest. I was a bit dismayed by its open-ended angle with Severin and his unfinished business with his psychoanalyst wife, but he is determined that he is to answer those questions - with Virginia. Call it a fairy tale, but Swofford, in a way, admits this belief: no one cannot forget their first love, especially if it is true.

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Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Tess of the D'UrbervillesTess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

---This was made on my third year high school as a requirement to the English subject - we are required to make a book review. The paper is fortunate enough to be saved from the typhoon Ondoy... ---

Thomas Hardy's creation, Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a great novel, pleased the readers and awakened them into realization.

Tess Durbeyfield, a great woman, a victim of sexual desire and intense deceit, destined to have lack of fortune, faced the challenges regarding their dying rural society. Their only source of living lost, so the Durbeyfields sent Tess to the D'Urberfields to seek for help. There she met Alec D'Urberville, a man of not a good character. He raped her and she becomes pregnant. So, Tess decided to forget the past and look for a new life where no on knows of her. There, she ends up in Talbothay's dairy as a milkmaid. She met Marian, Izzy, Retty, and Angel Clare, who soon became her husband.

Angel Clare discovered Tess' past and left her. In Tess' loneliness, Alec returned and told Tess he still loves her. Then, she lived with him for a while before Angel comes back to express his devoting love for her. With this devotion, she has to leave Alec. She murdered him and decided to go with Angel.

This is one of Hardy's fictitious novels in autobiographical form. Hardy used traditional English language to reflect the events from the past years. Each part of the novel made the reader: think of what happened next, reflect the traditional cultures to the modern world, feel the excitement on each and every romantic event, and made them realize what women can do to stand out for themselves.

A story of character, a great heroine amidst the miserable background of a dying rural society. There are struggles between triumphs and immerse failure. A picture of harsh realism and great tragedy with a blending of social injustice and incredible dramatic beauty.

The novel tell us what men can do, women can do also. A feministic reflection of life. A great philosophy, which can help the world to change, and form equality and peace. This is also a struggle of compassion and violence, a battle between love and hate. Hardy expressed that love is what matters most against hardships and fear.

Some quotations are included in the novel, and some scenes are being described by 'wordy phrases' which are difficult to understand by ordinary readers. the author is also found in describing places and landscapes, or even a simple residence of Durbeyfields in the novel.

Hardy likes to reflect the scenes and landscapes in his own worlds. The greatest landmark he ever described is the D'Urberville Mansion, which reflects his birthplace, Dorset, England.

Thomas Hardy, a man fond of writing, was born on June 2, 1840 in Dorset, England and died on January 11, 1928 at the age of 88. He was engaged in architecture, but devoted in writing at the age of 16. In 1896, he published the two great masterpieces, first the Tess of the D'Urbervilles, the Jude the Obscure, wherein he dedicated the novels chronologically to his two wives. These two novels were his greatest works. Unfortunately, the novels caused him not to write another fictitious novel again. There he continued to write narrative poems, which is dedicated to his family.

A story of life, a masterpiece of a great heroine, and a picture of emotional challenges - Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a great book to read for its realistic features, great struggles, and true dramatic philosophies. I recommend this to all women out there, and to all men (either of good character or not) and also to the directors and scriptwriters of plays and cinemas...so if they liked it, they will show it!

Side note: My English teacher (Mary Jane Nuguid) was considerate to give me a high remark on this. With the lack of time to make a thorough analysis, I was not able to explain the representation of Angel Clare and what are the factors that stirred Mr. Hardy to write about the realism of being betrayed and the art of lie and the truth.

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Summer Season and Summer Romance

Summer Romances end for all kinds of reasons, but when all is said and done, they have one thing in common - they are shooting stars, a spectacular moment of light in the heavens, a fleeting glimpse of eternity,,, and in a flash, they're gone...  - Noah, The Notebook

Don't ask, because yes, ganyan ang nangyari sa akin. But thankfully, I didn't fall into the pit of the emotional attachment. It was starting before the summer classes began...and many of my friends know the tale of how it started. But only one knows how it ended - me.

I will not disclose the ending because I hope there's a continuation to the story... or maybe I would not like to hear from my end what has happened to make it end that way,,, When some of my classmates asked what happened... I have an automatic answer:

"Pareho kaming lost... pag nahanap na niya ang sarili niya, saka niya ako mahahanap..."

I am not hurt, and I am not bitter of the events during the summer, because in the first place, I didn't invest much, so why bother? pero I am thankful because amidst the pressure during the summer class and workload in the office, he's there to support me.

Since the summer romance ended, we didn't see each other anymore. But if one time he saw me with another, or I saw him with another, I think both of us would just smile remembering what happened on that specific season...

But still, life goes on...still pressured because I don't have a serious relationship as of the moment... and pressured because the anticipation of having an MBA degree is getting nearer the expiration period...hehehe

Robert Nelson Jacobs' Chocolat (Screenplay and Movie Adaptation)

ChocolatChocolat by Robert Nelson; Hallstrom, Lasse; Harris, Joanne Chocolat Jacobs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The movie adaptation is recommended to all those who are in love with a piece of Chocolate.

I never watched this movie, let alone Joanne Harris' novel where the flick is adapted. That is why my mind has the liberty to imagine the setting and to reflect on the script and to picture the characters to the story.

Chocolat is a 2000 romance film directed by Lasse Hallström, the guy behind Cider House Rules, Casanova and Hachiko. Adapted by screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs, Chocolat tells the story of a young mother named Vianne Rocher, who arrives with her young daughter Anouk in the French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes. Vianne, an expert chocolatier, arrived with her daughter in the middle of 1959 and opens La Chocolaterie Maya - a chocolate store - just in time for the Lent. Residents and their mayor Comte Paul de Reynaud stictly adheres to the tradition, thus thought that the opening of the store as a radical move. Added with the odd Mayan urns, statues, and not going to church, she is implied to be a witch travelling from one place to another, obeying to the orders of the Northern Wind.

At the start of the story people thought of her as an unusual but as the day passes she has gained some loyal customers to the chocolate store. One of the first to fall under the spell of Vianne and her confections is Armande, her elderly, eccentric landlady. Armande laments that her cold, devoutly-pious daughter Caroline will not let her see her grandson Luc because she is a "bad influence". Thanks to the store - Luc and his grandmother formed a friendship and an inseparable bond. Josephine, who is being abused by her alcoholic husband Serge, becomes her helper. Roux, a gypsy who arrived and camped on the outskirts of the village, became Vianne's friend and lover (in the end). Reynaud, considering the arrival of these characters as a source of breaking the tradition, is willing to do whatever it takes to get them out of town, telling the message that they are not welcome by sending out pamphlets of BOYCOTT IMMORTALITY.

I am happy to read this book / screenplay just in time for our Lent. Set with the same season, it is for the reader to reflect that while there are traditions embedded in our society in contemplating for the hardships of our God, this composition helped us to see the humanity of it. We do not eat meat, we fast, we pray religiously - but what of all this if we cannot maintain our promise to our heavenly father? We are to be true of ourselves, and our God knows that we are human - we have the freewill and the potential to influence ourselves and others.


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