6 CDs. HighBridge Audio. Nov. 2018. 7 hrs. ISBN 9781684414086. $34.99. digital download. F
With its dizzying shifts of perspective, Apostol's (Gun Dealers' Daughter) latest novel has the feel of an experimental film or video art installation. Films and filmmaking are also at the center of the labyrinthine plot, which features Magsalin, a Filipino translator and mystery author, and Chiara, an American filmmaker. The story begins as Chiara enlists Magsalin's help on her script about the 1901 Balangiga Massacre. In 1898, the United States was met with resistance from the Philippines after it was acquired, along with Puerto Rico and Guam, from Spain at the end of the Spanish-American War. In retaliation for a Filipino revolutionary attack that killed 48 American soldiers, Gen. Jacob H. Smith, who was eventually court-martialed, ordered soldiers to kill everyone over the age of ten and turn the countryside into a "howling wilderness." Like American and Filipino historians who have provided conflicting accounts of the massacre, Chiara and Magsalin's personal histories influence the way they think the movie script should represent and interpret the historical event. With its dense, carefully crafted prose and complicated narrative structure (the chapters are not numbered sequentially), this requires careful attention.
VERDICT Veteran narrator Justine Eyre gamely and enjoyably relates the vignettes, but only the most diligent listeners and serious experimental fiction fans will have the patience to piece together the hopscotching, though ultimately rewarding, narrative. ["Worthy of a place in collections strong in postcolonial and experimental fiction": LJ 10/15/18 review of the Soho hc.]
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