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September 30, 2013

Pocket-sized Horrors From Yvette Tan’s “Kaba”

kabaHorror story writers would be familiar with Yvette Tan and her scary short stories. Her latest book, Kaba: 50 Maikling Kwento Ng Kababalaghan at Katatakutan!!! features a selection of fifty short shorts (or flash fiction) divided into four categories:  Labis, Bayad, Tiempo, and Ligalig, all contained in a slim 6×4.5in booklet that can be handily tucked into a purse, jacket pocket, or even in the back pocket of your favorite jeans.

Such portability means that this book makes for an easy read anywhere, anyhow, such as waiting in line at the MRT station, killing time at the doctor’s or dentist’s office, or just about anywhere you have a spare few minutes and want to read a book.  Plus, it’s written in Tagalog, making the stories more accessible to a wider reach of readers.

I knew the book works because when I handed it to my girlfriend and told her to read “Balete Drive”, the story’s twist made her shriek out loud. Other stories that also made me jump a bit were “Fan”, a twisted Pygmalion and Galatea tale; the Faulkner-flavored “Mag-Asawa”, bringing to mind the classic short story of “A Rose for Emily”; the comfortable state of things of the “Comfort Woman”, and the Faustian tale of “Game Show”.

The stories come in varying degrees of scare factor, with some being more of having a startle element or a giggle moment than an actual fright-inducing reaction.  Sharp-eyed readers will know what I mean if they turn to page 69 and scrutinize the artwork skillfully done (with tongue in cheek, maybe?) by the book illustrator, Nelz Yumul.

Overall, this book, published by A&S Books, is worth the hundred-plus bucks of its price tag. Support Pinoy writers and Pinoy writing and get a copy of this little book. It may be small, but it packs a peppery punch that’s sure to make you jump.  Ask the kid who read his copy of this book―and ended up having nightmares in his sleep.


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