ULTRAVIOLINS (UP Press, 2008) is one gamut of mind-benders that let loose the imagination of its readers, giving testament to the eternal creative unrest of Cinemanila International Film Festival Award recipient Khavn Dela Cruz.

From the vulnerable adulterer to the desperate amnesic, Ultraviolins gives unconventional yet appealing descriptions and narrations of Filipino living, with an accompanying host of translations from Filipino writers such as Pearlsha Abubakr, Juaniyo Arcellena, Daryl Valenzuela, Angelo R. Lecuesta and many others.

“Adultorero” (“Aldulterer” translated by Pearlsha Abubakr), the first literary piece of the anthology, tells of a man who one night sets out to find sexual gratification. He wanders the streets and beds a prostitute, hoping to forget his frustrations with his wife. The escapade however backfires, because he cannot help seeing his wife in the other woman. The crescendo of the poem does not easily abate thanks to the intense emotion of the adulterer during the act of adultery. The English translation of Abubakr gave less color to the poem due to the words she used to translate it, which seemed less effective to convey the emotion of the poem.

Another piece of Khavn’s unusual literary genius is “Ang Bagong Katipunan” (“The New Brotherhood” translated by Juaniyo Arcallena). The story speaks of the life of a gangster in search of the perfect brotherhood. Day-to-day experiences motivate numerous endeavors such as killings, teenage dilemnas and random heists like the procurement of love potions. As illuminating as the development of the brotherhood, it ends in a transformation of the gangster, from the brooding and violent man to a more mature one, through the pain of losing the brotherhood he painstakingly built around him. The author gives a good and exciting flow of events that shows a life of a very believable gangster.

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“Dedbol” (“Deadball” translated by Daryl A. Valenzuela), in an almost tangled way of telling stories, presents a series of unconnected events that intersect at one point, leading to an exchange of endings. The first of the four “mini-stories” tells of a serial killer who is bored with luring beautiful women and extracting their hearts, which he collects in glass jars. The second is an attempt by a traffic aide and an ex-convict to kidnap a political figure that eventually turns out to be a cakewalk of a crime. The third tells of a band that picks up a child they ran over and the last story is about four ladies headed for a bachelorette party with a stripper whom they took to the bride-to-be’s home.

The fateful exchange happens when the Divine Intersection, an event cum being from beyond the fourth wall of the story occurs wherein they trade the contents of their vehicles—the collection of hearts goes to the band, the kid to the serial killer, the stripper to the kidnappers and the congressman to the bachelorette. The intricate web that connects all four stories depicts Khavn’s ingenious and restless mind. He gives various sides to a story and comes up with alternate endings that readers would most likely enjoy as opposed to predictable and conventional ones.

“Nokturno” (“Nocturne” translated by Angelo R. Lecuesta) tells the story of a man in his early 20’s who seeks to score on women at nighttime just to kill boredom. Ultimately, he eventually meets Tess, a curvaceous mench who gives in to his seduction but then refuses an invitation to bed. The ending cuts the suspense short that readers might want to know.

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Despite the brilliance of Ultraviolins, Khavn Dela Cruz puts too much imagery in his stories and poems that it almost threatens effective comprehension of the work.

But despite the struggle to perceive Khavn’s restless mind, it all seamlessly connects to the Filipino way of thought and social conformity.

As a whole, Ultraviolins is a raw but genuine attempt to break through the normal conventions of short stories and poems and acts as a fluent introduction to comical postmodernism.


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