Recommended Reads

Everyone loves lists. Combine them with books and magic is made. Here’s a few recommended reads passed along to family and friends at their request.


A good friend asked for suggestions of lighthearted good reads, and these titles came to mind:

Strange Pilgrims1. EM Forster’s A Room with a View, so lighthearted the story is ecstatically dizzying. An absolute fave.

2. Sherman Alexie’s Ten Little Indians, hilarious short story collection

3. Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, perfect reading for fall; its Austen’s take on gothic romance, which ends up more as a mysterious romp.

4. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Strange Pilgrims, a wondrous collection of short stories, not necessarily lighthearted but certainly marvelous.

5. Jeannette Winterson’s The Passion, a spell-binding tale in 17th(?) century Venice. One very sexy romp.




Bucket List Reading

You can find Dickens’ novels online at The Free Library or subscribe to Daily Lit and have chapters sent to you regularly via email.
Cover of Ten Little Indians - Charles Rue Woods, Grove Press Books 

Because I can’t resist, here’s top recommendations expressly for you:

1. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich- a classic collection of Native American stories from one of my favorite writers. (Excerpts can be found on Google books)

2. House on Mango Street or Woman Hollering Creek– There’s nothing else to say about these works but two words: Sandra Cisneros.

3. Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie- another great collection of Native American stories, this time gut-wrenchingly funny.

4. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre– An absolute favorite. Its got everything, magic, revenge, romance, and woman power.

5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Strange Pilgrims is filled with fantastic tales.

Hope these suggestions help. Happy Reading!

Classic Novels for Kindle:

Here’s three classic novels that immediately came to mind (so hard for me to name just one 🙂 Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend. Very funny, incredibly inventive, and his best work. Conrad’s The Secret Agent. Short, explosive, and relevant for today. EM Forster’s A Room with a View a light Italian romp that has plenty of philosophical fodder to give the characters and story heft. Hope these help!
Our Mutual Friend Charles Dickens Housmans Bookshop

New Fiction on UC Riverside’s “The Coachella Review” Fall 2010 Online Issue

Once in a blue moon, mountains are moved, seas are shifted, and your Salonniere gets lucky enough to have a piece published. If you like Thai food, love/hate Los Angeles, or enjoy quirky short fiction, please check out my short story, “Like Fish to Ginger” included in The University of California, Riverside’s The Coachella Review Fall 2010 online issue. Many thanks to SMC Fiction MFA’ers for helping to make this possible. And, if it strikes your fancy, please pass the word along to friends, family, colleagues, students, blogs, tweets, Facebook, etc. Thanks for all your wonderful support.

Try a taste:

Like Fish to Ginger

By Rashaan Meneses

Before I set out to make my mark in Los Angeles, I chased Sunee. We met in a steamy noodle house in the Dusit District of Bangkok where I elbowed my way from dishwasher to sous chef. Sunee worked as hostess. Both seventeen, she knew exactly what she wanted, and it wasn’t me. Like with a delicate soup, I had to know when to stir and when to let the ingredients meld on their own. For seven months I coaxed her to me, savoring every minute of it, the taste of falling in love. This was all ages ago when cooking was like breathing.

Check out the entire piece, about a 15-minute read, at The Coachella Review.

Los Angeles

Book Release: “Angelica’s Daughters”

PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR – Saturday, Nov. 6, 5:30-7 pm, Angelica’s Daughters in San Francisco–  a reading/signing of ANGELICA’S DAUGHTERS, A DUGTUNGAN NOVEL, in a PAWA sponsored event, Saturday, November 6, 5:30-7 p.m. at the Bayanihan Community Center, 1010 Mission Street, San Francisco, California.


Released by Anvil Publishing during the Manila International Book Fair last September, was a landmark novel entitled, Angelica’s Daughters, A Dugtungan Novel, a collaborative work written by five established Filipino and Filipino American women writers.  The five authors came from different countries during the creation of the novel: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and Veronica Montes lived in California; Susan Evangelista and Erma Cuizon were in the Philippines, and Nadine Sarreal was in Singapore.

The five writers were members of an Internet writing group since 2003. After a few years of writing exercises, the group sought greater challenge and decided to write a dugtungan novel. A dugtungan is a genre of Tagalog novel popular early in the 20th century, in which each writer creates a chapter and hands it off to the next, who writes another chapter without direction.

The result is a novel about a diverse group of modern Filipinas – among them a FilAm whose marriage has disintegrated, an even younger Cebuana involved in a forbidden love affair, and a ballroom dancing Lola – who share a common ancestor, Angelica.

The novel has received praise from noted Filipino critic, Isagani Cruz, who says, ““This tale of two women living a century apart (and the women and men in their lives) told sequentially by five women is truly an ensemble performance worth a standing ovation.”

Award-winning Filipina writer, Felice Sta. Maria describes the novel as follows:

“Chick lit with a comfortable dose of smartness and historical verve. Angelica’s Daughters celebrates audacious heroines primed by deep passion and fairytale romance! Set in the heat of a 19th-century Asian revolution and what its setting becomes by the 21st Century, Angelica’s Daughters beguiles with its mythic splendor, threat of a generational curse, masterful betrayals, and female leads readers can fall in love with.
The story is a delightful read by five writers who cherish their Hispanic, Filipino, and American cultural roots.”

Brian Roley, Filipino American award-winning author likewise praises the book by saying, “Part of the pleasure of reading Angelica’s Daughters is seeing how deftly the authors deal with the challenge of writing in this resurrected literary form. The result, in this case, is an ensemble performance that contains something of the exhilaration of theatrical improv. One watches these accomplished authors inventively weave a historical romance, creating gripping heroines and turns of plot, crossing decades and national boundaries, tapping into cultural roots of the Philippines, Spain and America. Reading Angelica’s Daughters is a gripping experience.”

In the Philippines, the book is available from Anvil Publishing (; in the US, the novel is available from PALH ( and Philippine Expressions ( in San Francisco also has copies.

The novel has a site at, and a blog at

Globalisation & Cosmopolitanism

On the Facebook, of all places, I reconnected with a fellow SMC MFA’er and college professor who is teaching a fall semester course on “Globalization and Cosmopolitanism,” two passions of mine. Our discussions got me thinking about how I could revamp some of my composition courses. Below is a list of possible source materials that come to mind as I consider re-designing my syllabi (all sources deal with transnational politics, immigration, citizenship, etc):


1. The Constant Gardner

2. Bread and Roses

3. Dirty Pretty Things

4. The World

5. Kinamand

6. Maria Full of Grace

7. Angel-A

8. Recommended by colleague, Where the Green Ants Dream

1. Roger Cohen’s NY Times’ columns deal with globalization and global citizenship, and I’ve had some classroom success with his astute article “The Global Rose as a Social Tool” published March 13, 2008:

Most of the roses I saw were destined for the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain in Britain, with a price tag of the equivalent of $10 already affixed. I asked Helen Buyaki, aged 27, one of 1,800 employees at the farm, what she earns: “4,500 shillings a month.” That’s 70 bucks.

Look at the global economy one way and Buyaki earns the equivalent of seven bunches of roses for a month’s labor. That smacks of exploitation. Look at it another and she has a job she’d never have had until globalization came along.

2. Arundhati Roy’s speech “Come September”, September 18, 2002

Nobody puts it more elegantly than The New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman. In an article called, “Craziness Pays”, he said, “The U.S. has to make it clear to Iraq and U.S. allies that…American will use force without negotiation, hesitation or U.N. approval.” His advice was well taken. In the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in the almost daily humiliation the U.S. government heaps on the U.N. In his book on globalization, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Friedman says, and I quote, “The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist. McDonalds cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas…and the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.” Perhaps this was written in a moment of vulnerability, but it’s certainly the most succinct, accurate description of the project of corporate globalization that I have read.

1. Unmasking Los Angeles: Third World Cities, non-fiction collection of essays, edited by Saint Mary’s professor, Deepak Sawhney

2. Graceland, novel by Chris Abani

3. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Dai Saijie (also adapted into a film but the books are always better)

4. The Secret Agent, novel by Joseph Conrad

5. Travel as a Political Act, non-fiction travel book by Rick Steves

6. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, philosophy by Kwame Anthony Appiah

At the Salon: GoodReads Review on the anthology “Growing Up Filipino II”

Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
**DISCLAIMER: This review is written by one of the contributors from the anthology. Please read with discretion.**

In her Borderlands/La Frontera, Gloria Anzaldúa writes of the mestiza consciousness: “The new mestiza copes by developing a tolerance for contradictions, a tolerance for ambiguity. She learns to be an Indian in Mexican culture, to be a Mexican from an Anglo point of view. She learns to juggle cultures. She has a plural personality, she operates on a pluralistic mode–nothing is thrust out, the good, the bad, and the ugly, nothing rejected, nothing abandoned. Not only does she sustain contradictions, she turns the ambivalence into something else.” The Filipino-ness, as discussed by Rocio G. Davis in his introduction and depicted by the twenty-plus authors in this anthology, develops more than a tolerance for contradictions but zeroes in on the good, the bad, and the ugly, drawing strength, voice, character, and meaning out of the ambiguity that lies at the inherent core of Filipino and Fiilpino-American experiences. Filipino history is Pluralism, and Cecilia Manguerra Brainard through her keen compilation and organization of these deceptively simple tales shows readers the complexity of individual experiences and stories in this beautifully orchestrated anthology.

Read entire review here at Ruelle Electrique

“Into the Woods”: a faculty retreat reading list

Jenifer K. Wofford’s “MacArthur’s Nurses” (2008)

Your Salonniere has organized the reading list for this summer’s Collegiate Seminar Faculty Retreat for Saint Mary’s College of California. The theme of this retreat, “Into the Woods,” focuses on perception and consciousness of the Unknown, the Other, and the Wild. Inspired by the advocacy work of poet and professor Barbara Jane Reyes, who also introduced me to Jenifer K. Wofford’s art, these selections, juxtaposed together, will hopefully reveal surprising similarities among artists who might otherwise seem disparate. I’m looking forward to seeing how the faculty respond to the works individually and as a collective.

Schedule for the Neville and Juanita Massa Institute

at Huntington Lake, Summer 2010

July 29- August 1

“Into the Woods”

Thursday, July 29

8:00 – 10:00pm, Session I:  Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Mont Blanc” (poem), 1817.

Friday, July 30

10:00 am – noon, Session II:  Trinh T. Minh-ha, “The Language of Nativism” (46-64) (essay excerpt), from Women Native Other, 1989 [facilitator TBD].

7:30 – 9:30pm, Session III:  E.M. Forster, “Introduction” and “Other Kingdom” (short story) from The Celestial Omnibus and Other Stories, 1947 [facilitator TBD].

Saturday, July 31

10:00am – noon, Session IV:  Carlos Bulosan, “The Growth of Philippine Culture” (115-123), “My Education” (124-130), “Freedom from Want” (131-134) (essays) from On Becoming Filipino: Selected Writings and Jenifer K. Wofford, “MacArthur Nurses” (painting) 2008, and MacArthur’s Leyte Landing, (photo) October 1944 [facilitator TBD]

7:30 – 9:00pm, Session V:  Louise Erdrich, “The Good Tears” from Love Medicine (novel excerpt) 1984.

Sunday, August 1

10:00am – noon, Session VI:  Slavoj Zizek, “The Communist Hypothesis” (111-125) (philosophy excerpt) from First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, 2009.

“School Library Journal’s” Review of “Growing Up Filipinio II”

Published May 1, 2010 and written by Roxane Meyers Spencer of Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green:

BRAINARD, Cecilia Manguerra, ed. Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults. 254p. PALH. 2010. Tr $29.95. ISBN 978-0-9719458-2-1; pap. $21.95. ISBN 978-0-9719458-3-8. LC 2002104406.

Gr 9 Up—This collection of 27 short stories, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Growing Up Filipino (PALH, 2003), reflects the impact of post-9/11 wartime sensibilities among Filipino writers living in the Philippines, the United States, and Canada. Although similar topics of family, memoir, and coming-of-age thread through both collections, the pieces are not grouped by theme, but nevertheless weave a constantly shifting tapestry of Filipino identity. The challenges and conflicts of unique ancestry and struggles for identity provide a rich background for modern urban realism. The brittle memoirs reflected in “Here in the States,” “Nurse Rita,” and “Hammer Lounge”; original legend in “A Season of 10,000 Noses”; and breathtaking tragedy in “How My Mother Flew,” among others, are compelling reading.

Read entire review

“a recent outpouring of memoirs, fiction, poetry, blogs and even some readable military reports by combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan”

The New York Times’ writer James Dao covers war-time writing from soldiers in his article, “A Well Written War, Told in the First Person,” published, Monday, February 8, 2010.

The current group is different. As part of a modern all-volunteer force, they explore the timeless theme of the futility of war — but wars that they for the most part support. The books, many written as rites of passage by members of a highly educated young officer corps, are filled with gore, inept commanders and anguish over men lost in combat, but not questions about the conflicts themselves. “They look at war as an aspect of glory, of finding honor,” said Mr. O’Brien, who was drafted for Vietnam in 1968 out of Macalester College in St. Paul. “It’s almost an old-fashioned, Victorian way of looking at war.”

Read entire article

Reading List

Memoirs & Poetry


ONE BULLET AWAY: THE MAKING OF A MARINE OFFICER By Nathaniel Fick. (Houghton Mifflin Company.) Read review.

THE UNFORGIVING MINUTE: A SOLDIER’S EDUCATION By Craig M. Mullaney. (The Penguin Press.) Read review.

HERE, BULLET By Brian Turner. (Alice James.) Read review.

LOVE MY RIFLE MORE THAN YOU: YOUNG AND FEMALE IN THE U.S. ARMY By Kayla Williams. (W. W. Norton.) Read review.

POWDER: WRITING BY WOMEN IN THE RANKS, FROM VIETNAM TO IRAQ. Edited by Lisa Bowden and Shannon Cain. (Kore Press.)

Military Reports

FIXING INTEL: A BLUEPRINT FOR MAKING INTELLIGENCE RELEVANT IN AFGHANISTAN By Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Capt. Matt Pottinger, and Paul D. Batchelor. Read report.

AN UNRELEASED ARMY HISTORY ABOUT THE JULY 2008 BATTLE OF WANAT By Douglas R. Cubbison. Read the draft report (pdf).

“how our Filipino and Filipino American brothers and sisters experience life in America”

Elated and humbled by Karen Pierce Gonzales’ review of Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults posted December 29, 2009 on Folkheart Press: the art of folktales.  A wonderful way to close the year.

What I like most about folk stories is that they tell us something important about other people. They create specific examples of universal themes that exist in all cultures; they express the uniqueness of a particular time and a particular people that enlightens us all about our own humanity.

This is what I recently experienced after reading Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults, a collection of contemporary stories for young adults collected and edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard. The 257-page book published by PALH (Philippine American Literary House) was first brought to my attention by fellow writer Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor. A bright writer herself who lives in Washington, she was able to share with me not only the beauty of her own literary work but also the richness of her cultural heritage.

Thanks to her I was allowed into the post 9/11 world of Filipino and Filipino American youth. Through this I was introduced to a culture that admittedly I knew very little about…

…Other stories also reveal the hard facts of immigrant life. Alma (‘Here in the States’ by Rashaan Alexis Meneses) struggles to understand how hard her mother must work as a nanny to make ends meet. Shame and sadness mingle when she questions the discrepancy between her mother’s role as a respected professional back home and her new role as a domestic helper. Adolescent resentment and rebellion about having to help care for younger siblings (something the maid back home did) further complicate Alma’s efforts to make sense of this new world. It is in her mother’s quiet strength and acceptance of life’s uncertainties that Alma finds her greatest comfort and connection…

Read more

“Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults” now available

Please excuse me while I celebrate. I’m privileged to announce my latest short story “Here in the States” is included in the PALH anthology, Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults, edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard. Please consider this wonderful collection as a holiday treat for yourself, your family, any friends who love good stories, and any teachers or librarians who might be interested. You can get your copy through, or Barnes & Noble. I’d greatly appreciate if you’d please spread the word and would love to hear your reviews.

The San Francisco book launch takes place January 16, 2010. More information will be forthcoming or you can follow the updates on the PALH blog or this blog.

Thanks so much for all your support and encouragement!


DISTRIBUTED BY: Ingram, Baker & Taylor,, Barnes and Noble, among others
P. O. Box 5099
S.M., CA 90409
Tel/fax: 310-452-1195;;;

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults is the second volume of the Growing Up Filipino series by PALH. In this collection of 27 short stories, Filipino and Filipino American writers explore the universal challenges and experiences of Filipino teens after the historic events of 9/11. The modern demands do not hinder Filipino youth from dealing with the universal concerns of growing up: family, friends, love, home, budding sexuality, leaving home. The delightful stories are written by well known as well as emerging writers. While the target audience of this fine anthology is young adults, the stories can be enjoyed by adult readers as well. There is a scarcity of Filipino American literature and this book is a welcome addition.

CONTRIBUTORS: Dean Francis Alfar, Katrina Ramos Atienza, Maria Victoria Beltran, M.G. Bertulfo, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Amalia B. Bueno, Max Gutierrez, Leslieann Hobayan, Jaime An Lim, Paulino Lim Jr., Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor, Dolores de Manuel, Rashaan Alexis Meneses, Veronica Montes, Charlson Ong, Marily Ysip Orosa, Kannika Claudine D. Peña, Oscar Peñaranda, Edgar Poma, Tony Robles, Brian Ascalon Roley, Jonathan Jimena Siason, Aileen Suzara, Geronimo G. Tagatac, Marianne Villanueva

BIO OF EDITOR: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the award-winning author and editor of over a dozen books, including the internationally-acclaimed novel, When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, Magdalena and Acapulco at Sunset and Other Stories. She edited Growing Up Filipino: Stories for Young Adults, Fiction by Filipinos in America, and Contemporary Fiction by Filipinos in America, and co-edited four other books. Cecilia also wrote Fundamentals of Creative Writing (2009) for classroom use. She teaches at UCLA-Extension’s Writers Program.