Best gift

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Saturday, December 21, 2013


BOOKS make good presents. The lines are shorter to bookstore cashiers. That is no mean virtue to extol in this period of frantic gift-buying.

In a made-in-Hong Kong movie I saw on cable television, a desperate student fended off his best friend-who-turned-into-a-semi-vampire by inserting a medical tome just as the BFWTIASV was about to plunge his elongated incisor into the former’s carotid artery.

Moral of the story: don’t throw away unread books. They are effective for impressing dates and suppressing vampires.

(Wait: why was the BFWTIASV not a full vampire, i.e., ready for maximum blood extraction with a pair of fangs? After four days of sleeplessly waiting for the rerun, I was able to see the movie from the start. Two medical students rent a room in a complex that’s abandoned because a room full of vampires had drained all the other occupants of precious human fluids.

In one encounter in the stairwell [low-rent = no elevators], the lady vampire was only able to pull down the pants of one of the students before he noticed, even in his lust-addled state, that his date had too long a pair of incisors. While he was scrambling to get away, the vampire bit him in his posterior, which explains his half-vampirized state [i.e., one fang, not two].)

(Wait, wait: why was the BFWTIASV trying to bite the neck of his male boardmate when every Dracula fan knows the genre runs on strict heteronormal lines [i.e., no gender-bending, please, so a female vampire should feed only on a male victim and vice versa]?

Since I have to sleep and write a thesis [not in that strict order], I’ve not been able yet to catch a second rerun so I can solve this plot glitch. I promise to write another column to explain the homosexual undertones that surely drove poor Bram Stoker to attempt to rise from the crypt paid for by “Dracula” sales.)

If you give a book as a present, you spare the recipient the plot twists and turns that form the territory of Hong Kong movies (aired on Philippine cable TV). A book with an incomprehensible plot can be alleviated by turning back the pages. If still too dense after eighth rereading, read again paragraph 3 of this column.

If you give a book, you protect yesight. It’s not just because TV sets, computer monitors and tablet screens emit bad rays that make people more excited for more gadgets! More ads! More power and world annihilation!

A book in hand means a person will not have to photocopy, read Amazon.com “Look Inside!” excerpts or wait for the novel to become public domain.

Have you tried to read a book that’s been “powder-copied” and passed from one reader to another? The words literally disappear. You end up memorizing sections highlighted according to some faintly human intelligence. Readable pages are torn. Inserted are dismal quizzes belonging to people who scored higher than you because they got the “powder-copied” book when it was still 75 percent whole.

So give a book.

There are booksto fit all readers. Usually, people complain they don’t know which book to give unless they ask the recipient for a wish list of 100 or so possible titles.

When you choose a book, surprise the person. Choose a genre that strays a bit from the recipient’s well-trodden path. A bookseller once told me that very few buyers enter his bookstore to pick out a new author.

So take the plunge for your recipient because everyone secretly enjoys learning at someone else’s expense.

You can always borrow the copy after it’s been read. Truly, there’s a book for all readers.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 22, 2013.

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