Saturday, April 27, 2024



Wildflowers by Beverly Parayno

(PAWA, 2023)


I read Beverly Parayno’s debut book WILDFLOWERS in January; though this meant the year had just began, I already anticipated this book will be among the best short story collections I will have read in 2024. Its elegantly meticulous—even refined—style (as in the stories “Savior” and “Housecleaning”) provides a master class in the open-ended ending. Its occasional epistemological forays bespeak a more mature writer than might be indicated by a first book author. For example, from the title story “Wildflowers”:

“… she thought about Christmases growing up, their house filled with relatives, her parents chopping vegetables in the kitchen, a production line of her, her sisters, and their cousins rolling hundreds of lumpia. An abundance of food and drink. Everything shared. It was a cruel trick, life. Surrounding you with so many people in your youth, and so many of them paired of now and living their new lives without you.”


As well, discernible throughout many of the stories is a punk muscle that I find amusing even as it strengthens the impact of the writing. Indeed, this author, thus, can be considered a peer with the likes of other Filipino short story writers like M. Evelina Galang and Danton Remoto; I am also reminded of the fine writing by Marianne Villanueva—what a feat! Well then: I welcome Parayno to the authors' party. WILDFLOWERS is a superb achievement.


That said, some specific observations:


The title story “Wildflowers” has a nice twist of an ending that I really enjoyed. The quality of surprise in that ending exists in other stories and is an asset to Parayno as a storyteller.


In my opinion, the strongest and most powerful story was “Housecleaning”—it must have taken much psychological fortitude to write it. Candidly, I wish I’d written it.


I appreciated the order of the stories, including how the collection opens with “Savior” since the entirety of the book critiques the notion of savior as well as the possibilities of being saved from life’s vicissitudes. After all, the ending of last story, “Balikbayan,” shows how ancestral land is traded for money. To lose land is to become untethered and become a part of the diaspora where money is often the basis the stability that land offered in the birthland—such a trade-off, to understate the matter, is not ideal.


All of the stories display an expertise with description. Indeed, the occasional sex-related passages were admirably authentic, not eliding physical eros (as I’ve seen from other female (Filipina)  fictionists).


In reading through book, at first I felt that “Dilation” and “Surrender” feel abruptly developed—their narratives  didn’t seem as maturely elongated as other short stories. But after reading “Rescue,” I realized these three stories were simply using a  different way of ending than the other stories: that is, their ending comes up abruptly in I believe an intentional manner. Among the three, it was done best by “Rescue” which is why I concluded this style was not a limitation when compared to other stories like “Housecleaning”; the stories are relying on a technique of hard-edged comparisons before and after the “break” in the plot.


The fact that I end up being glad that I read what is a book of depressing topics is a testament to the writing—Wildflowers manifests an intelligent alchemy that can only reinvigorate one’s faith in fine writing. Well—no, superbly—done!





Eileen R. Tabios has released over 70 collections of poetry, fiction, and diverse types of prose. In 2024 (Asia) & 2025 (World), Penguin Random House SEA will publish her second novel The Balikbayan Artist. Other recent releases an art monograph Drawing Six Directions; a poetry collection Because I Love You, I Become War; an autobiography,The Inventor; and a flash fiction collection collaboration with harry k stammer, Getting To One. Other recent books include a first novel DoveLion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times which was subsequently translated by Danton Remoto into Filipino as KalapatingLeon (UST Publishing House, 2024). Her work includes invention of the hay(na)ku, a 21st century diasporic poetic form; the MDR Poetry Generator that can create poems totaling theoretical infinity; the “Flooid” poetry form that’s rooted in a good deed; and the monobon poetry form based on the monostich. Translated into 13 languages, she has seen her writing and editing works receive recognition through awards, grants and residencies. More information is at


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