Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kirkus Review of Linda Ty Casper's novel, WINGS OF STONE

Kirkus Review

The Philippines, two years prior to the ouster of Marcos, is the setting for Ty-Casper's second novel to be published in the States (the first was Awaiting Trespass, 1985). And as this talented writer portrays it, it is a country in its darkest hour, where death squads take the lives of the defenseless with utter indiscriminateness, where the homeless and the hungry roam the streets of Manila while Madame Imelda refers to them as "economic saboteurs." To this Manila comes Johnny Manalo, son of a Filipino doctor, who's spent the last 15 years teaching physics at Harvard. His spur-of-the-moment return has the surrealistic quality of a "continuously broken dream," due both to his own disconnectedness from his feelings and to the grim state of affairs in his native land. His mother has recently died; his aging, idealistic father has retired; and his brother has become wealthy as a drug dealer's henchman. At first, Johnny pays no heed to the words of an anti-Marcos political activist whom he meets, Pete Alvarez: " one can stand aside. Or pay lip service. Here is where the battle is being fought. Now." But then a child is found with 60 stab wounds in his small body--reprisal for his father's outspokenness--Alvarez is shot, and a priest in the shanty-town where Johnny's father wants to establish a clinic is gunned down. And given the apocalyptic imagery of the ending, we're left to imagine that Johnny will work his way out of the miasma of his ambivalence and respond to the outrages that confront him. Ty-Casper's writing is hypnotic and elliptical, her novel's plot a loose connection of nightmarish incidents, her characters sometimes indistinct. But the horrors of the twilight years of the Marcos regime glow through the haze, making the book significant.

Hardcopy pub date, Nov. 14, 1986, by Readers International
E-book by PALH, now available in Kindle and Nook

Wings of Stone


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