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Book Review: Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan

<p>Bob Ong goes for the creeps in his 3rd fictional foray!</p>
by Lou E. Albano | Jan 6, 2011
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No other Filipino writer has spurned today’s youth into reading more than Bob Ong. [firstpara]

Virtually the most popular writer of the present generation, Bob Ong has gone from being a blogger, an accidental nom de plume, to a national bestselling author, and –according to an exclusive interview with—  perhaps soon a blockbusting screenwriter.

Known (and often quoted) for his non-fiction works, Bob Ong has lately been venturing into fiction with his last two books, Macarthur, and the fresh-from-the-80’s superhero Kapitan Sino.

Bob Ong releases his 8th book—3rd novel of fiction— through a never before attempted simultaneous nationwide release across bookstores last November 30.

Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan is the author’s first foray into writing suspense-horror. It is inspired by true events. “Part of the book is written by the real ‘Galo’ (the novel’s main protagonist), entries were lifted from his journal,” Bob Ong reveals.

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Set in the late 90’s, the book is what appears to be the journal of Gilberto Manansala, a 16-year-old college student who deals with teenage angst by jotting down his ramblings and rap compositions.

It started out as a school project,  eventually turning into a voyeuristic look at Galo’s naked psyche. The author masterfully crafted a delicate balance between Galo’s emotional, borderline incoherent rantings and his vivid depiction of his day-to-day; the character’s voice is convincingly captured without compromising the structure of the narrative.

The story moves forward as Galo returns to his childhood home to spend time (indefinitely) with his grandmother. What follows after is a series of chilling revelations that’s more “gothic suspense” than “monster of the week.”

Bob Ong’s Mama Susan creaks and whispers as you turn the page. There’s no monster hiding under the bed, but a statue of a crying woman is shoved there.

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Mama Susan is the literary equivalent of screamfests like The Blair Witch Project and the more recent Paranormal Activity.

It’s a very effective slice-of-life faux documentary that’s so uncannily realistic (and it helps that the book is purported to be based on true events) that you are disturbed to bear witness to such horrible events.

Readers looking for a good textable (or in this day and age, “Twitterable”) soundbite from Bob Ong’s latest better save the laughs. Though not bereft of it, Mama Susan’s sense of humor is more of the dark variety.
Sinister and seductive, Mama Susan draws you well into the dark night even against your will. Already the internet is abuzz with theories from readers sharing their own interpretation of the story’s enigmatic ending.

Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan is an interesting offering from a prolific author who is obviously having fun at the craft of storytelling. Bob Ong managed to break free from being stereotyped into any particular genre, and has once again thrown a curveball at our eager faces. Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan is disturbingly entertaining, a sinister seduction through a gothic excursion of dark secrets and darker revelations.

Continue reading below ↓

Will it alienate some of his love quotes forwarding fans? Maybe. But it will no doubt win him even more new ones.

Check out the trailer:


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