Monstress (Stories) by Lysley Tenorio


Lysley is the first Filipino author I’ve read and I love this book of short stories, which I would not have purchased if not for his reading session at NUS-Yale where he was visiting. His reading of ‘The Brothers’ captivated me and the other listeners there that the books sold out within minutes. His stories are all about American Filipino migrants and how they adapt to their new country.

The author Lysley Tenorio and me.

Despite listening to him read the story, I read ‘The Brothers’ again and felt a pull at my heart, the same feeling when I get when I watch a particularly touching Korean drama (which I have weaned off for two years now.) The story tells the sad tale of the struggle a family goes through to arrange the funeral of a transgender son which they want to hide.

I would like to use the same quote I received from my thesis supervisor regarding the characters in the stories – engaging and definite diversity. He writes in the voice of a woman actress, an old man and even a child. I admit I was so inspired I went on to write a short story in the voice of a child as well.

In the ‘Save the I-hotel’, we learn the story of a man in love with another man for decades. The story flips between current, when they are evicted from the hotel they have been living in since they arrived,  and flashback seamlessly to one’s unrequited love for the other.

In ‘L’Amour’, a young boy narrates their family’s move to US and how he innocently helps his teenage older sister run away from home with her boyfriend, only to have her returned, pregnant.

In ‘Help’, three teenage cousins are recruited by their uncle, an airport security, to beat up The Beatles when they are visiting the Philippines because the singing group insulted Imelda Marcos, his idol. The cousins go along with the plan because they all want to meet the most popular singing group in that era.

I’m beginning to enjoy short stories, in part because I am also currently writing my collection of short stories, but also because the single episode dramas are easier to absorb now that my attention span is so short.

This is one book I highly recommend.


About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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