Instructions on How to Disappear by Gabriela Lee

In Gabriela Lee’s first book, Instructions on How to Disappear and other stories, she has meticulously and intelligently reworked numerous genre tropes. Set in future manila, a gleaming metropolis where one’s  paranoia may not be exactly unfounded and whose lashing sings tribute to Philip K. Dick, “Stations” takes on the ethical trappings of high technology adoption. “August Moon” relies on a succession of flashbacks to uncover, as well as obscure, the eventual doom of a woman who deems herself a “good wife,” while “Eyes as Wide as the Sky” depicts a post-war world – scorched yet not wholly devoid of hope. These stories insist on the unreal becoming the real, the rational melding with the irrational, familiarity breeding strangeness. An impressive debut.
– Kristine Ong Muslim, author of Age of Blight

Instructions on How to Disappear is a collection of short stories, more like a scifi / fantasy type to me.

Here are my thoughts on the book:

  • The book is written in English although the stories are set in the Philippines and I was so amazed at how she described unearthly creatures of Philippine Folklore such as manananggals in English. I have always thought that Filipino culture or folk lore or legendary stories would always be best told in our own language but she just described a manananggal in English the way we would in Tagalog.
  • Reading this book makes me feel like reading our own story, written by a foreigner. Not in a bad way though, just my feeling.
  • I like how she mixed fantasy into reality. I’m not a big fan of fantasy (and such) but this book is ok with me.
  • I like how she used some objects to symbolize the emotions.
  • Each story has an air of melancholy
  • I didn’t like much the story Eyes as Wide as the Sky, it felt like Hunger Games to me

Take home lines:

“I like the idea of looking at the world through a lens,” she said looking down, watching her step. She was conscious of the puddles, the damp slippery moss. “That you can create borders around what you see, the focusing and capturing of a moment that will never happen again.”

“I don’t think I can explain,” she continued. “It’s like, you have to transcend the pain, I guess – because it really does consume you, for the moment, and then you just want to make it stop, but you can’t, and so you find a way to go beyond the pain, and then you realize it’s just momentary, that everything passes, and so all you have to do is wait for it to end. And it does.”

Overall, a good read. Not really the type of genre that I read but it is something different from the usual Pinoy story lines or styles and it is good that way.


Author: aysabaw

Aysa is a self-proclaimed hotelier without any culinary talent. She used to fly around Dubai for ten years via her magic carpet but destiny led her to a new path. She is now a little mermaid swimming in and around the Maldivian waters. If she is not reading her books, writing something comical, leaving rubbish comments on your posts or strumming her guitar, then she's up to some mischief.

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