By Rachel Yeo
Title: Blood – Collected Stories
By Noelle Q. de Jesus
Published by Ethos Books Singapore
No. of pages: 239
Available at Select Bookshop, Books Actually, Kinokuniya
American-Filipino Noelle Q. de Jesus’ makes her debut in fictional writing with 25 short stories that revolve around domestic issues, living in exile, unrequited love, tradition, cultural shocks and more. Together, these novellas make up Blood – Collected Stories.
Some of them are adapted from a previous short story compilation called Fast Food Fiction Stories, in which de Jesus contributed as an editor.
De Jesus’ experiences while living in the United States, Philippines and Singapore have allowed her to create a myriad of unique characters through her own life experiences. Together with her use of unique slang from different countries, her stories are relatable to many audiences, be it a Filipino living away from home or a student in Singapore.
What stands out in this book is how complicated stories can be sparked off with the most ordinary activities or household items. For example, “The Wash” is one that manages to connect the simple act of doing laundry at a Laundromat to society’s more taboo subjects – abortion. Tastefully written and tugging at the heartstrings, there are also other “unspeakable” issues being tackled in subsequent short stories, like sexuality.
Perhaps the most shocking, yet intriguing piece is reflected in her book title. “Blood” that talks about the peculiar Filipino custom of females smearing menstrual blood of their first period to be rid of acne and be beautiful as they reach puberty. This tradition is combined with a young girl approaching womanhood who has to balance her relationships with her mother and sister, both whom are estranged from each other.
Whether her stories are written in two or 20 pages, all are just enough to introduce different characters and issues they face. But they do not offer a complete closure, which can leave readers to imagine what happens next on their own.
Just like Fast Food Fiction Stories, every piece in Blood – Collected Stories IS short enough to be read on the go. If you’re one with a short attention span or fighting with time, this might just be the book for you to think about some of life’s deepest issues.