Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Angelo R. Lacuesta — our man in Manila

Better known to us as Sarge, Angelo was one of our Iowa mates on the International Writing Programme in 2007. His fiction has been nationally awarded and he's among the most widely anthologized Filipino writers of his generation. He was literary editor at the Philippines Free Press for four years and has been a guest editor, editor-at-large and contributing writer for several magazines and online publications. Sarge is a master of the quick quip, whose bonhomie and award-winning smile have most recently been lavished upon his baby son.

My story in Slightly Peculiar Love Stories stemmed from “Space Oddity” — that 1969 song by David Bowie. Also from a weird memory I had in my youth: of me turning my childhood desk into a cockpit from where I could escape my blue world. “Space Oddity” of course refers to 2001: A Space Odyssey, which remains, especially after more than 100 viewings, one of my favorite films. To me, 2001 is about man’s birth and childhood, but I remember just being scared by those hominids and that 20-minute hallucinatory journey when I first saw it as a child.

I remember spending many idle summers visiting my relatives in the rural provinces in the south when I was young, and there was nothing to do for days but go through my uncle’s old textbooks from medical school. On one of those days I discovered an illustrated guide to gynecological diseases. The illustrations were stark and realistic and beautiful, and you can imagine the effect it had on me as a ten-year old child, amid my boyhood crushes and my largely unexplored feelings and instincts.

Many years later, thanks to a writer’s memory, and most especially to editor Penelope Todd’s patience and careful guidance, “Space Oddity” takes shape as a story that hopes to gather the persistent and tender urges of my youth, along with their alien encounters.

(P writes: Careful guidance, tosh — clipping a stray whisker was the extent of it.)

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