Russians and Enemy Number One

The Commissar’s Report
Martyn Burke 

A Personal Book Review



The Commissar's Report


Have you ever read a book that describes the atrocities of a savage period in history, yet instead of being appalled by the vivid and gory descriptions, you find yourself snickering shamelessly? Have you ever read a book wherein the protagonist is scared witless about something you consider normal that it appeared really funny? Have you ever read a book wherein the situations, apparently leading to the protagonist’s demise, actually led to his promotion, that everything appeared laughable?



If you haven’t, then read this book by Martyn Burke. Although I must warn you that it may be hard to acquire since I just bought my copy for 20php at a Booksale branch. But the book is worth every penny you would ever spend on it – whether it be 20php because it’s from a Booksale store or $5 because it’s from

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comedy turned melancholy

Depressing. Utterly depressing.

The book which just recently left me laughing out loud and highly entertained somehow made me depressed enough not to sleep by its conclusion. I cannot quite believe it ended so badly. Of course there was still comic relief at the ending – comedy was one consistent point of the book although it illustrated human suffering far from the confines of our human imaginations. But then again, I was depressed at the ill fate of the books protagonist. I kept expecting a new page to sprang up when I finished the last page, hoping it would contain some ingenious idea of the protagonist at how he was able to escape from his unexpected fate.

But there was none. And so I flung the book down and tried to sleep. But sleep won’t touch my consciousness as pictures of the books scenes kept drifting in my mind, all to end at the very unexpected and unfortunate ending. I was livid with rage then numbness. I couldn’t believe the author will just do that to the protagonist. I can’t believe it.

But then that is the beauty of the book. It was what made the book realistic despite the many allusions to comedy. It was what made the readers realize that the human sufferings describes – the inhumane tortures we hope we never get to witness, much less experience in our lifetime, are really real and happening in that large corner of the world. The ending is the stark reminder that there are cruelties in this world of which we have never ever dreamed of and that we are suppose to be fighting off – if we actually care enough to fight them off.

I cannot yet divulge what that book is. I cannot even begin to speak of its title yet. I will do a review once the initial shock has faded. But for now, suffice to say, I was depressed by the ending. I cannot bear to recall all the funny moments without remembering that it will all end badly.

The book is splendidly written. I can’t wait to start writing a review. And I can’t imagine that it all costs 20 pesos.


Update: To read my review on the book, check this out.

Book Review: The Man Who Loved Attending Funerals and Other Short Stories

Probably one of my greatest discoveries in Booksale is the collection of short stories written by Frank Collymore. Who is this author? Well that was my question also as I stared at a 10php book entitled The Man Who Loved Attending Funerals And Other Stories by Frank Collymore and edited by Harold Barratt and Reinhard Sander. I had no clue who the author was but I bought the book nonetheless because of the catchy title.


The Man Who Loved Attending Funerals and Other Short Stories
The Man Who Loved Attending Funerals and Other Short Stories



And boy, was I surprised that the book contained a lot of very interesting stories. In fact, there were a lot of stories, whose titles were not so catchy but whose plots were better than the story whose title became the title of the book.


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