The Chronicles of E is one of the most exhilarating and nastiest reading experiences I’ve ever had. ‘E’ minces no words: he’s offensive and he’s a whore. He may be a whore but he’s merciful enough to warn you that ‘there will be a lot of things that may disturb you…’ since he’s ‘not a good person yet’. Such warning invites snark but one will soon find out that such warning is, to some extent, warranted. He is as abrasive as industrial grade sandpaper and the numerous platitudes about how He’s Going to Live a New Life is grating to the point of insincerity, but E has things to say. Whether they need saying in the lewdest language he can afford is another thing.
Culled from a series of blog posts about his bout with drugs and prostitution, E is a dizzying trip into a self-professed recovering addict’s diary of hate and hope. More than the drugs and the prostituting, however, it’s this writer’s path towards finding out his HIV status that gives his ‘chronicles’ a spattering of gravitas. A gay guy’s discovery of his HIV status is not unprecedented in these times. Finding out and blogging about it while a handful of followers await, is.
Having been derived from his blog, the entries are mostly random and raw, with E himself admitting to being high while creating the posts/chapters. Think Jim Carroll, Basketball Diaries, only much more abrasive. The trick is to look past the language and into the message. Actually, it’s less a trick than a necessity, but just as there are a lot of self-absorbed (what else) and endless introspection about his status in his often shrill mode of expression, there are also flashes of touching scenarios, such as when E tells a Quiapo fortune-teller who offers to tell him his future, ‘Alam ko na po, Inay.’
My encounter with E is not as casual as I would have preferred. There had to be a degree of involvement that would not allow me to just toss off his often petty and nasty complaints about everything, should I find it too much. I had to read E in all its gritty glory and what a book it is. What a person! Some might scoff at the warning that what the enterprising reader is about to read might ‘disturb’, to say nothing of the Parental Advisory label that appears on the cover and yet there they are, the warnings, daring you to be snarky. But you get the sense that E doesn’t care for your snarky shit (as he himself would perhaps put it). E is indifference-proof.
E is not easy to read and it’s for reasons that have to do with taste than with principles. Not to disparage blog writing but I don’t think that anyone actively chooses to read a blog-derived book expecting a literary sensation although those exist too. E, being a blogger, is understandably generous on the me me me that typifies blog writing. And if you decide to read E, you will either hate it so much or be the exact type of reader for which the parental advisory sticker is for who will end up hating it, offended, and/or educated by it. Either way, you will feel something. Mine was a combination of a kick in the shin and a scream in the face. If anything, you have E to thank for coming up with a handy gay guy’s guide on How Not to Live Your Life. In a way, it is superior to feel-good, self-help books that preaches about what to do. Books like Chronicles of E, though unwittingly, demonstrates why you should or shouldn’t do or say certain things.