Gun Dealers’ Daughter now has the interesting distinction of being picked up by the longstanding neocon journal Commentary early in the summer (its first mention) and by the great radical newsletter, CounterPunch, started by the late great Alexander Cockburn (also of the The Nation). I heart CounterPunch.
Charles R. Larson, emeritus professor of literature at American University, Washington, DC, says of the novel:
“And that complex narration is, in fact, one of the major strengths of this classic example of madness and trauma, repression and guilt. Gina Apostol’s Gun Dealers’ Daughter is a haunting study of misplaced actions by corrupt governments and the naifs who believe they can make them accountable.”
Loved conversing today with Merry Gangemi at Woman-Stirred radio on WGDR in Plainfield, Vermont. She’s a lovely close reader of books and also just a great natural conversationalist. I spoke with her about Gun Dealer’s Daughter, and she mentioned the incidence of insects, repetition of heat and decay, and the book’s language games—all of which are perceptive recognitions of small or seemingly easy to overlook matters in a book that in fact create its structural integrity—follow her radio show to get in touch with an intelligent reader!
This article researches facts in history related to details in the novel The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata. While not ingenious, it is earnest, and I enjoyed looking at how the researcher figured some of the novel’s puzzle out. There are so many pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in this layered novel that it is satisfying when a person at least figures out even one corner of the complex piece. Good job, filipiniana.net! (It is hard, I guess, as the writer, not to point out where some spots are missing and how to find them; but I will refrain and maybe in a hundred years others might figure it out, who knows; the novel, if figured out completely, is meant to shed light on multiple resonances among and between history, reading, language and art with the revolutionary period of the Philippines as the emblem of that fascinating intersection, between history, reading, language and art, by which, I think, we experience our humanity.)
An interesting recognition here by the researcher, the last sentence of which is important—a lot more can be said about the metafiction the novel involves, but it is a good start, and smart: “In the novel, glimpses of this historical phenomenon are seen from the point of view of Raymundo Mata who has always been known as a blind man. The first part tells how he learns the alphabet, spends time at the Binakayan stream with his playmates (including Emilio Aguinaldo), begins his formal education, and develops a passion for reading. His childhood coincides with the onset of the revolution, as seen in his entry about the Terror of Cavite which serves as a backdrop for events in his youth. The revolutionary setting is further hinted at by Mata’s inclusion in the manuscript of a short story written before he and Aguinaldo become members of the Katipunan. This part of the novel highlights its metafictive element, being a fiction (the short story) within a fiction (Mata’s journals) within a fiction (the novel) and nonfiction (the execution of Bonifacio) within a fiction (the short story) within a fiction (Mata’s journals) within a fiction (the novel).”
I’d choose it for my playlist, on largeheartedboy (see post below), if I had not been in such a rush to write the piece (because I was packing). Great stuff for Gun Dealer’s Daughter playlist, if only I had remembered. The incident linked to The Jam would be when I was out of school and had no work, no apartment and was looking for a job, and a friend from the movement said, we have an apartment, we have room, stay with us for a while, and I did. It was a nice, lovely place in Quezon City, close to Diliman. Very burgis, no rats, haha, I would never have been able to afford it, and no one ever asked me for rent; I just helped with the chores, helping out with another housemate, who it turns out was pregnant. Another of my Kalayaan (freshman dorm) friends. I think we were 20 or 21 at the time. Anyway, turns out, her lover was underground, and he’d come up from the hills to visit her every so often. I’d just stay away and go out to parties when he was around, to give them privacy—I’d go dancing to The Jam or similar ilk. I told this story recently to my friends from those days and they said, OMG, Gina, I can’t believe you were living in Blabla’s safe house! I said, no I wasn’t. Yes, you were, you were living in a UG safe house. Oh my god. I realized more than 2 decades after, I was living in a goddamned UG safe house, and I had no clue. No wonder they never asked for rent. So that’s my playlist anecdote—there I was, dancing to The Jam while the guy who had actually gone underground got it on above ground. Yeah. “Going underground! But I don’t care what society thinks, going underground!” Oh, the 80s. I’m so ignorant.