PALH, 2020 US Edition, paperback, 160 pages ISBN: 978–1‑95–3716-07–1, $14.95
ISBN for ebook: 978–1‑953716–08‑8
Anvil, 1995, hardcover, 157 pages ISBN 9712704599
Haunting and Enchanting
The 2020 US Edition of Cecilia Manguerra Brainard’s collection of short fiction, ACAPULCO AT SUNSET AND OTHER STORIES, gathers seventeen enchanting stories grouped into four categories: Long Ago Tales, Stories from the ’60s and ’70s, Stories from the ’90s, and American Tales. In this book, Brainard, a Philippine American author, continues her exploration of her Filipino and Filipino-American immigrant experiences. The collection includes some of her best short stories.This anthology of stories, first published in 1995 in the Philippines, is now presented to an audience familiar with Brainard’s subsequent literary work — the novels she wrote (WHEN THE RAINBOW GODDESS WEPT, MAGDALENA, THE NEWSPAPER WIDOW), the books she edited, including the young adult coming-of-age anthologies GROWING UP FILIPINO: STORIE FOR YOUNG ADULTS and the follow up GROWING UP FILIPINO; and more.. The GROWING UP books are most popular among educators librarians.
“Although writing from outside the Philippines, Brainard uses the Philippines and Filipinos as ‘either the original or terminal reference point.’ This narrative strategy, which Oscar Campomanes argues characterizes literature written by Filipinos in the U.S. or Filipino Americans, opposed to “ethnic” literature, which addresses immigration and settlement. It is best described, Campomanes suggests, as a literature of “exile and emergence” (Discrepant Histories: Translocal Essays on Filipino Cultures, ed. Vicente L. Rafael.) Brainard enriches the conventional understanding of exile by applying the concept to Filipino experience in the Philipines. She (Cecilia Brainard) is thereby able to show the cultural and social issues that a Filipino/a faces while in exile are universal Filipino experiences.” (Les Adler for Pilipinas)
“The stories of Cecilia Manguerra Brainard tell of voyages the heart could have taken, of places haunted by old memories like ghosts lingering under an ancient mango tree, of times seemingly irretrievable but always there at the farthest end of the thread of remembering. Wherever the characters of her tales have wandered, one finds them at some point of their journey redeeming fragments of their lost selves and making sense of the maze through which we all pass.” (Marjorie M. Evasco, Poet)
“In Brainard’s stories, Acapulco and Intramuros are the same, and at the same time, completely different places. Dead characters and live characters talk to each other nonchalantly. A young poor boy falls in love with an older rich woman, and by loving her, kills her. Filipinos find their identity in, of course, San Francisco, but not so ordinarily, in Alaska. The green card — actually blue — spells the difference between authenticity and an authentic life, between dreaming and the American dream.“In Brainard’s stories, the mind does wondrous things: aside from creating an Evil-Thing that makes one do good things, for instance, it may recreate good people that spell the difference between good and evil. It may make characters live in worlds they themselves create, distinct from — often destructive of — the world that has created them. A young girl, for instance, may live for the handsome object of her adolescent fantasies, then so suddenly recognize these fantasies as mere “silly daydreams.” A very old woman, saving herself for her one and only love, finally surrenders her virtue — and her life — on her death bed, of course to her one and only, now long dead, love.” (Isagani R. Cruz for Starweek)