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The Hour of Daydreams, Renee Macalino Rutledge.

December 28, 2016

The Hour of Daydreams, Renee Macalino Rutledge.  Forest Avenue Press (2017), 232 pages. Forthcoming.

3 stars

A love story steeped in dreams and conflicting memories set in the Philippines and written by a Philippine American woman.

Renee Macalino Rutledge was born in the Philippines and raised in the United States.  She has degrees in English from UC-Berkley and in Creative Writing from Mills College.  Her essays and short stories have been widely published.  This is her first book.

The Hour of Daydreams is about Manolo Lualhati, a doctor in a small imaginary village, and his wife. Although the couple love each other deeply, Manolo frets over Tala’s secrecy about her past and present.  They have a child and Tala leaves, the subject of varied rumors over her identity.

Title of the book comes from an incident in the story and from its overall impression.  Rutledge’s prose is dreamy and filled with beautiful descriptions, often of the landscape.  In addition, she tells multiple, conflicting stories, some about “real” life and some magical.  Rutledge seems to do little to reconcile the stories or to prioritize them.  While her characters discuss and debate the presence of supernatural creatures, I was left unsure of what had happened.  I often enjoy tales containing magic and different versions of events, I found myself uncomfortable with uncertainty that dominates this book.  Without some grounding, I could not trust the characters or understand their motivations. I simply do not accept that all that is claimed to be true is equally real in a concrete physical sense.

This is another book that other readers may like more than I did.

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