The Solemn Lantern Maker: A Novel

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( 49 valoraciones por Goodreads )
 
9780385341134: The Solemn Lantern Maker: A Novel

From the award-winning author of Banana Heart Summer—“[a] wonderful debut...[that] resembles Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street and is destined to be a hit among book club members”*—comes a wondrous tale of hope, secrets, and family devotion.

It’s six days until Christmas, and on the bustling streets of Manila a mute ten-year-old boy sells his version of the stars: exquisite lanterns handmade with colorful paper. But everything changes for young Noland when he witnesses an American tourist injured in a drive-by shooting of a journalist and imagines he’s seen an angel falling from the sky. When Noland whisks her to the safety of the hut he shares with his mother, the magical and the real collide: shimmering lanterns and poverty, Christmas carols and loss, dreams of friendship and the global war on terror. While the story of the missing tourist grips the media, Noland and his mother care for their wounded guest, and a dark memory returns. But light sneaks in—and their lives are transformed by the power of love.
*Library Journal ( starred review, “Editor’s Pick”)

"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

About the Author:

Merlinda Bobis has received numerous awards, prizes and fellowships for her fiction, poetry and plays, among them the Prix Italia for Rita’s Lullaby, the Steel Rudd Award for the Best Published Collection of Australian Short Stories, the Judges’ Choice Award (Bumbershoot Bookfair, Seattle Arts Festival) and the Philippine National Book Award for White Turtle, or The Kissing, and the Philippine Balagtas Award, a lifetime achievement award for her fiction and poetry in English, Pilipino and Bicol. Her plays have been performed in Australia, the Philippines, France, China, Thailand and the Slovak Republic. Banana Heart Summer is her first novel; its Australian edition was short-listed for the Australian Literary Society Gold Medal. Her second novel, The Solemn Lantern Maker, will be released in the U.S. in 2009. As a performer for stage and radio, Merlinda works with artists from various genres. She lives in Australia where she teaches creative writing.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One
 
A star has five lights. Noland thinks it so it must be true. Angels live in stars, with fire in their chests. So when they breathe, the sky twinkles. Noland thinks hard what he can't say as he runs from car to car, peddling his own version of stars. Around him, the festive business rises to fever pitch—"Only six days to Christmas, ma'am, sir, so you're getting these cheap. You can't miss out, only six days."
 
How dare anyone miss out? At this intersection of the highway, star lanterns made of translucent capiz shells outshine each other, desperate to be sold. Red, green, gold, and pearly white blink and whirl with electric lights, like stained glass on speed. The shoppers' faces catch the glow. So does Noland's. It is a solemn face, like those of plaster saints who endure years of silent watching.
 
"Hoy, you're blocking my customers!" a stall owner scolds the boy, who steadies his wooden cart of lanterns. His are made of Japanese paper, small stars with two frilly tails instead of lights. "Are you serious?" one shopper asks, looking incredulously from the boy's simple wares to the giant creation she bought for six thousand pesos. Heaven should be grand, boy, and bringing it down to earth is costly business. "Hoy, over here!" a man calls out from an old Mitsubishi. Finally, a customer. "How much?" he asks, while peeling a pork bun.
 
Noland raises five fingers thrice to indicate fifteen pesos.
 
Intent on his dinner, the man does not see the price. "How much?" he asks again. Noland raises his palm close to the man's face, repeating the gesture.
 
The man pauses, stares—
 
Palm as small as a star, star as small as a country.
 
Now where did that come from? He's becoming a poet.
 
Steam rises from the bun. Noland imagines the pork stew and the salted egg inside. He hands the man a red star, eyes on the first bite. Is the yolk bigger than the white? The man pays with a fifty-peso bill. Noland shakes his head and shows an empty palm. No change, sorry sir. Perhaps two more stars? He offers a green one this time and another red.
 
"No, keep the change." He waves the boy away and hangs the star on his window, just above the wheel. Then as an afterthought, "You mute, kid?"
 
The ten-year-old nods.
 
The man sighs, taking in the face that is too gaunt, too serious for a child.
 
My country's children small as hope.


Chapter Two
 
"Of course yours are the real thing, because you make them in the old style," his friend Elvis assures him. "Small stars but specially homemade by the master star maker, so gimme five!" Then the customary palm-slapping before turning his baseball cap at a jaunty angle and running toward the traffic.
 
Noland wonders about his friend's exceptional gift. He's chatting up a Pajero now. Earlier it was a Mercedes. They met only a month ago but Elvis has quickly made himself indispensable as Noland's "parol assistant," churning out most of the sales. His uncle Bobby Cool, with his Walkman, cell phone, and gold crucifix, has become their "parol godfather."
 
Parol is the traditional star lantern. Not for Noland, though. You call a star a star, or not at all. But of course, he can't say. Nor can he say that Bobby's donation of five hundred pesos toward his business is too generous. What if he can't sell enough lanterns to pay him back? But uncle and nephew assured him that business would grow if they worked together like family. Noland grew warm inside when he heard it. Like family. Like Christmas gift-wrapped in kind voices. They grew softer when his benefactors realized he couldn't speak. "You don't say because you're busy thinking," Elvis diagnosed his condition. "So gimme five!" Their friendship was sealed.
 
"Buy ah-one, ah-two, ah-homemade-star, ah-three, ah-four, ah-homemade-star." Elvis waves six lanterns at a time to the passing cars, stabbing the air like a rapper revved up by attitude. "Hey, watch me, dude!"
 
Business has grown more desperate. It's eight in the evening and traffic has been stalled for half an hour. The flower girl pesters every car on the strip again, hoping to sell another jasmine strand for the Child Jesus on the dashboard or the altar at home, or simply to perfume the growing impatience and boredom. Drivers are forced to light up, courtesy of the cigarette man plying his wares with a Christmas trumpet. The duck-egg and the quail-egg vendors are fighting for territory, and an old man is selling more than his hand-mops. He's mopping the car windows himself as street kids run up and down the traffic, begging and singing "Jingle Bells." One window opens and the kids rush to the car, but the oldest girl with a baby gets there first. The driver scolds her for dragging the baby along, then gives her a ten-peso bill. She whines about her sick sister and holds out the baby's palm for more. The driver curses, and the window is shut.
 
The boys sell as many stars as the "official" lantern vendors. Parked beside the stalls, the cart is their stall and they can run from car to car with their smaller wares. Noland feels his pockets grow. Elvis's "gimme fives" multiply. He does the hand-slapping ritual with Noland after each sale, for next-time luck. While Bobby stands by, he chats up a Kombi van. The tinted window half rolls down and the driver buys all the lanterns in his hand.
 
Noland marvels at his friend's ability. Their cart might be empty yet before tonight is over. Bobby Cool doesn't think this marvelous, just normal. He trusts his twelve-year-old protege, who now turns his cap at all angles, reporting on his transactions. Bobby approves and gives the boy a shove—back to work. Then he gets on the phone and slinks away.

Chapter Three
 
Nerves are even more frayed. The traffic just won't move. Is there an accident somewhere? Cell phones ring and get rung. Drivers grow quarrelsome. Lantern bargainers get overwrought and the street kids' "Jingle Bells" sounds more driven, a militant Christmas wish for more grace, more grace from your pockets. Those who protest by turning up the Christmas carols on their stereos are admonished by blaring horns. Hoy, some peace, please, it's bad enough as it is!
 
"Hey, over here!" It takes a while for the foreign voice to be heard. It's from a taxi, in front of the man with the pork bun.
 
Noland stares.
 
"Yes, you please, over here," the voice calls out.
 
It's a woman with golden hair, with a very white face, with a hand stretched out toward him. The most beautiful creature. An angel!
 
But Elvis gets there first, cap quickly adjusted to a jauntier angle. "Hey, beautiful lady, wanna buy?" He waves at the cart and the stalls of lanterns as if he's the godfather of all the shining stars. "They parol all for lady—"
 
"_Pa-rol?" She points to the swirl of lights.
 
"Yes, ma'am, but my parol more bee-yoo-ti-ful like lady," Elvis declaims, offering his own stars, bunches in both hands. He sashays before the stranger so she can inspect the goods.
 
Noland is stunned by his friend's boldness. Elvis even drapes himself on the taxi door and the angel laughs nervously. "You love New York?" she asks.
 
Elvis is perplexed. "New York? Me no go there, ma'am."
 
"Your cap." She points. "It says, 'I love New York.' "
 
"Oh yes, Elvis love New York," he confirms, preening.
 
"Your name's Elvis?" The angel laughs a little more heartily, then continues, "So, Elvis, what are they made of?" She is after the lit stars and this peeves the boy, but he's quick to respond. "Shell, capiz shell—but my parol more cute, see?" He waves the paper stars under her nose, but she keeps looking beyond them, thinking shining flowers more than stars. She tests the words in her head, imagines them blooming. Pa-rol. Ca-piz.
 
"They shine so—so—" She sighs.
 
Noland hangs onto this exhalation of awe, to the look that goes with it. She glows, she glows. But Elvis is intent on only one thing. He opens the taxi door with a mock bow. "Okay, beautiful lady want big star, Elvis take beautiful lady to big star, no problem—but she buy small star from Elvis, okay?"
 
Noland peers behind the older boy, holding his breath. She's about to alight. Under the headlights of the pork bun man's car, her hair swirls like a halo!
 
But she pulls back her feet, changing her mind.
 
"Is okay, Elvis stop traffic for beautiful lady, is okay," and he bows deeper with a little flourish of his cap.
 
"It's okay?" the white woman asks her driver who quickly responds, "No problem—traffic not moving, traffic dead." He chuckles, liking his joke.
 
The angel walks a few paces from her taxi. She's asking something, but Noland can't hear any more. Behind them, a Pizza Hut motorcycle revs close to the pork bun man, then suddenly three shots break the traffic drone and the man slumps over the wheel, making his newly bought star dance and Pizza Hut revs past, hitting the angel who collapses. She's shot too she's shot and Noland is rushing to her rushing with his cart of lanterns picking her up where did he get his strength lifting her into the cart with Elvis pushing her from the screaming the shocked "Jingle Bells" the silenced cars the halted buying and selling and the man bleeding at the wheel wondering why the star is growing smaller dimmer and where does this thought come from?
 
Palm as small as a star, star as small as a country. How small.

Chapter Four
 
"She's shot, Noland—putang 'na, what're you doing? She's shot, you hear me? Ay, ay, all this blood, look, shit man, you can't take her home. You're crazy, you'll—we'll get into trouble. Shit-shit-shit!"
 
I'm being cursed, I'm cursed. The American picks up only one English word fading with the stars, no, ...

"Sobre este título" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

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