Moth Stories (2015)

Review by lycando

I'm not too well versed in local authors or books, so it was only through the recommendation of a friend that I picked this up. As a kid I did read Singapore's True Ghost Stories written by Russell Lee, but apart from that didn't pick up on other local books that were popular enough. Thus, my impression of local books was lacking by a rather substantial margin. Thankfully this was readily available as an ebook, which gave me a greater incentive to read it. I must admit I was initially skeptical of such anthologies, as my own bias had projected them to be typical dramas injected with a local flavour. Stories of young love, or estranged families are topics that are covered ubiquitously, yet seem to still be touted as the peak of our literary achievements.

The pleasant surprise was that, despite there still being some of the more familiar narratives which touch closer to home, there are also others which shine light on the underbelly of society, or even topics that are taboo. They vary across different perspectives, although the literary style is consistent. One thing that is slightly bemusing is how each narrative never fails to be embellished with many an analogy or complex vocabulary, something that seems to stem from being taught that using a multitude of words is better. While I'm not one to dispute that, it seems a tad superfluous at times, but it does add some character to the stories.

Leonora Liow seemed to come from a well off enough family, and while I can only make guesses about her upbringing, I think it's fair to say that she came from a higher rung of society. As such, her stories reflect as such, granting much more attention to a certain outlook on life as well as personal dilemmas. The last two entries are especially marked with the notion of a rat race and breaking out of the tedious cycle of the lower / middle class. They are also the two longest stories in this anthology. I'm not surprised if some of her personal life experience bled through, as the adage 'write what you know' effectively implies.

Local books like these are a hidden gem, simply because there are so few amongst the limited pool of published authors. For a debut novel, this was a joy to read in the hopes that more of such stories can be told, by different people from different walks of life.


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