Penmanship and Other Stories by Butch Dalisay

“He opened his book and stared at the margins and his forefinger traced the squiggle of her laughter there.”
-from the short story At the Booklaunch by Jose  Y. Dalisay.

There are no introductions needed for a writer of Butch Dalisay’s stature.

penmanship-short-stories,butch-dalisay

 

I held a copy of this book at the bedside table the dawn after our 1st wedding anniversary while playing an acoustic Spotify playlist. I think I played the “Your Favorite Coffee Shop” playlist with 1.2 million followers.

Like the refreshing and happy day that came before it, this book did not disappoint. I devoured each page hungrily and wondered why it was priced at 80 pesos in an SM Taytay book sale.

Have I gone ancient or did I somehow find the elixir of bookstores that showcase award winning Filipino authors at such proletarian rates? I mean, it was on that same pile that I found an anthology of one-act plays that are Palanca-awarded priced at less than 80 pesos!

This book is worth so much more than the price tag on it. I marveled at the innuendoes that never happened yet happened in Matilda’s Dessert, the impending doom and danger that beheld Protacio in Delivery, the sort of perverted betrayal in Ybarra, and the very delectable stupor that the Author faced in At the Booklaunch which had a humor that will not be lost to grammar nazis. Of course, there’s the landmark story Penmanship which really indicated the writer’s deep interest for fountain pens. He practically romanticized the pen and surrounded it with people.

“He caught a blob of ink on the tip of the nib with his thumb. Old pens did that, when they were nearly empty, or when you took them up in airplanes, not having been designed to fly… The Parker Vacumatic glinted in the room light, poised to strike. It was ringed with bands of gold, and promised a wealth of words. The merest pressure on its nib could deepen an emotion.”

My breath caught in each line. I was in deep awe of how solidly it was written. There was so much respect after I finished reading it. One and a half sitting (and I can’t tell you what brought about the half sitting here!)… It was simple, but one would know the painstaking expertise it took to craft the words in such a manner, to paint landscapes without going technical over the details, and to just evoke emotions out of something as unobtrusive as an ancient fountain pen.

You don’t usually find beautiful words like that lying around. They’re usually sought in hidden independent bookstores or at the obscure shelves that are reserved for the curious.

And this book slowly eased me back to my reading habit. It’s not the one I picked up in college for completing requirements. It’s the one I had as a little girl when I had the flashlight in my hand in the middle of the night while my mom thought I was sleeping. Those were the days when you don’t label things you enjoy.

They always knew how I’d sneak past my bedtime with my books. And at this point, my husband of one year has gotten used to me sleeping with him on one side and around five books on the other. These days, I added the DSLR camera for my daily practice– a piece of advice from a nice person named Arasacha who takes such good photos.

I wrote about the book first but of course, it does not eclipse the beauty of having hit the first year with my husband last Friday. Our first wedding anniversary was an amazing experience. It’s a good and beautifully marked punctuation to the love story that’s still ongoing. Wish I had the skill of the fountain pen to articulate how beautiful he is to me. He does not seem to be aware of how many wonderful things he has done for me and what discoveries we’ve had in exploring each other up close even if we basically did not travel beyond the country. There will be a time for that.

There’s this book review, and then there are other things I need to do so let this be it for now. I plan to update this blog a bit more frequently but like being in a playground, there’s a set timer to how much you can indulge without feeling the bulge of unproductive guilt. 🙂

 

5 thoughts on “Penmanship and Other Stories by Butch Dalisay

    1. Wow ano to! Parang ang ganda! I just downloaded the file, thanks for sharing this Nonoy!!!! Haven’t seen you here for a long time. Thanks for visiting Helena. 🙂

  1. Just came across this. Thank you very much for your generous comments–I’m glad you enjoyed reading “Penmanship” as much as I enjoyed writing it over a week in Scotland in 1994, on a fellowship in a musty castle, having bought a fountain pen I’d paid a month’s wages for. I wrote the story to make my money back, and I did, from a writing prize 😉

    Cheers
    Butch Dalisay (jdalisay@mac.com)

    1. Hi Sir Butch,

      Honestly, I think I almost fainted when I saw this comment today. (O_O) I logged in with some sinister plan to delete my blog and here you are, telling me the charming story of how you wrote the stories in this beautiful book.

      I do not usually see award winning literary giants visiting mere mortals like me on the blogosphere. Thank you so much po for visiting my blog, Sir.

      Will you also be putting a version of your books on Amazon? It would be so nice to buy them there and put them on my Kindle e-reading device. Some traditional literary authors are against the idea, but you may want to consider it for your millennial readers who don’t carry physical books.:)

      Helen

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