[Book Review] Trafficking in Nostalgia: Essays from Memory by Exie Abola




I am into anything nostalgic. In fact, I have thinking a lot about my own writing these past few months and I've realized that nostalgia has been my thing. I guess I just like talking about the past, especially those days when life seems simpler. I like to discuss painful memories as well, process and reframe them in such a way that they can give me new insights on life and beyond.

No wonder, when I came across Exie Abola's Trafficking in Nostalgia: Essays from Memory when I was looking for books to buy during the Aklatan Sale on Shopee last August, I added it to card without even thinking twice. I also learned that his essay "Many Mansions", which we discussed in a creative nonfiction class was also included in the very same collection. Big plus, I thought.

The book didn't disappoint at all! If it weren't for chores and other responsibilities here at home, I would have definitely read it in one sitting. Apart from being nostalgic, its language was also beautiful. I really cherished every sentence in it.

"Many Mansions" remained as my top favorite after reading the entire book. I think it's a piece I just won't outgrow. In fact, I appreciated it more now. I guess maturity has just allowed me to have a better grasp of some ideas presented in the text that I kind of missed when I first read it many years ago. 

I particularly loved this part of the essay:
"Houses provided us the necessary certainties—somewhere to come home to where you’d find your family, your things, a hot dinner, a bed or a good couch. Write to me here. Call me at this number. But I’ve changed addresses and phone numbers enough times to know better. Perhaps that’s what houses are really about: the fundamental uncertainty of life, the slowly learned fact that the reference points by which we draw our maps and chart our course are ever shifting, and a life’s cartography is never quite done." 

But of course I also fell in love with other pieces in the collection, particularly "At War and at Peace", which just brought back a lot of memories. It talked about music and some of the most iconic bands from the past. Since I myself grew up listening to music, I found the piece relatable. 

Of course, I also appreciated both "A Political Life" and "A Political Life 2", which both provided a glimpse of the political climate from the time they were written. I believe pieces as such are important in ensuring that people don't forget about our dark past as a nation.

Finally, I want to say that anyone who's into creative nonfiction can learn a lot from this little book, especially from the essays I mentioned, especially those who are curious about how memories can be effectively used and explored when writing powerful pieces.

Featured image from kalatasliteraryezine.wordpress.com

QuickEdit
Mina Deocareza
0 Comments