March 22, 2013


by Tweet Sering

I am not a very big fan of non-fiction for one simple reason: books from this genre tend to bore me. Save for memoirs or biographies of people whose lives I find remarkable or extraordinary (which are quite few), or accounts of specific periods in history (e.g. Holocaust period) that interest me, or self-help/advice books that I could learn from at any given period (e.g. the What to Expect series, starting from when I was pregnant), I generally stay away from non-fiction.

Astigirl is non-fiction; it is a collection of blog posts from years of writing and publishing via Blogger by its author, Tweet Sering, whose fiction novel, Wander Girl, I enjoyed immensely. In fact, I enjoyed Wander Girl so much that I decided to read Astigirl – Tweet’s only other work – notwithstanding its being non-fiction, and I wasn’t disappointed.

There is something about Tweet’s writing that makes me feel comfortable. I love her style, how she injects her wit and humor in it, and how the ideas and concepts just flow from one into the next. The first few chapters of Astigirl didn’t immediately capture my attention, but it didn't take long for me to get into the groove of it. Later, I found myself sneaking reading a chapter or two during break or down times in the office.

Tweet’s blog entries/essays are very substantial and enlightening, and while I don’t agree with everything that she’s written – I still think Eddie Villanueva has no business running for president – I respect her views anyway and understand where she’s coming from. She didn’t even need to justify those choices. While I also wouldn’t dare say that I could completely relate to her life experiences, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about them, anyway – it felt like I was reading a letter that a friend has written me, sharing her story. And for those entries to which I could relate – entries that felt like they were lifted from my very own journal, they were that familiar – I could only hide a small smile. Are you sure you’re writing about yourself, Tweet? Because it seems you’re actually talking about me, right there.

Among my favorites are the entries about her father, with whom her relationship improved because she learned how to be not like him despite the fact she is like him; the entry about being in a love triangle with her partner and her art, and; the entry about the girl of the guy with the camera. There were some that sounded preachy or too feminist for my taste, but I didn’t mind. All of the writings were intelligent, mature, and honest – the last adjective being the best thing about Astigirl, I think. Gathering one's thoughts, heartaches and reflections and translating them into words like that is a herculean task, more so if one were to write about something that is much too personal to be shared - but somehow, Tweet did it. It is like baring her heart and soul to a complete stranger - uh, me? - and at the same time, keeping the stranger entertained with anecdotes and imparting lessons learned from those experiences. I admire the lack of inhibitions and the candor with which the entries were written, and for this reason, I am deeply endeared to this book.

There were many passages from the book that I truly liked and believed in, but I will choose just this one to share with you because it had the most impact on me.

Whatever we imbue with attention and honesty and consideration is valid and precious and worthwhile, no matter how short or seemingly small it may be. People, relationships, events are fine, are perfectly valid and legitimate, just as they are.

I don’t know if Tweet will come up with a new book, or when, but I hope she does. I am certain to read it right away.

I just wanna be an Astigirl! 

Book Details: My own, paperback, a Christmas gift from Tina (thank you!), signed copy (yay!) 
Rating: ★★★★


Peter S. said...

Oh goodness! This book was a nominee in the ReaderCon last year. So I was forced to read it! I didn't enjoy it though. I felt that the essays lack bite and ground. I remember feeling wanting after closing the book, as if the author was holding back when she was writing about her experiences.

Monique said...

Aw Peter. But that's okay! There will be books that won't tickle our fancy, and I guess this is one of yours.

I will read Bebang Siy's book next - that one won the category in which Astigirl was nominated, yes? :)

Peter S. said...

Yes! Bebang Siy's book was our unanimous choice!

By the way, the 3rd nominated book for the essay category was Ambeth Ocampo's Chulalongkorn's Elephants.