LIKE A BIG BRAVE MAN by Celso Al. Carunungan


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The first part of this book has an innocent, folklore charm, as Crispin de la Cruz, the boy-narrator, who lives in the Philippines with a Saroyanesque family, records the by-plays of family life. His first love, his Uncle Ciano's remarks about women and cock-fighting, the sale of a pet carabao are all lovingly described. The idyll is interrupted when the family takes in Richard, an American flier who had been shot down over Manila. They all become friends and they help Richard to escape-so that later, in gratitude, Crispin is sent a ticket to America. Crispin flies to New York to stay with his uncle and aunt and here the book weakens. A few too many of the remarks about the American way of life sound more like the author than Crispin. However there is much that is interesting about his time in America, his friends, and the world of the urban Filipino. If at the end Crispin is sorry to leave New York, the reader's chief regret is that he will not be in on his homecoming. Even though Uncle Ciano has died, and though simple, poor but poetic childhoods do not last forever, it was a nice family and place to have known.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy