From Monstress: Stories By Lysley Tenorio

The title of this great first story comes from a hack Hollywood filmmaker who has convinced a beautiful girl from Manila to star in his horror picture. It’s not really a horror movie, more like an Ed Wood production, and this guy, a Hollywood wanna-be named Gaz, has just spirited the beautiful Reva Gogo away from a life of dirt cheap movies and a no future director boyfriend named Checkers. Movies in Manila are no more than American knock offs, low rent, low-fi strips of nonsense, loaded with bad production, horrible props, and actors who can only memorize their lines.

Reva narrates this story, and it’s from her that we hear a slow sorrowful burning sadness at leaving her native Manila behind, basically trading one slum for another. Gaz nearly breaks down the door of her place, looking for Checkers, who has made a series of movies in Manila that he is absolutely in love with. Gaz promises them the golden sunshine of California, and a money back garuntee if they’ll just come with him to make a movie in LA.

This story slipped around me like a tailored suit. Tenorio writes with a casual precision that bleeds equal parts emotion and resigned complacency. I came to love Reva by the end, and wished I was sitting in the theater to see one of these movies with her. Gaz and Checkers are just two men in her life, nothing more, and she’s the star of this story. This collection goes on sale in January 2012.