Sunday, October 24, 2021

Fairy Tale for the City by Estrella Alfon (Short Story)

Fairy Tale for the City is a controversial short story by Estrella Alfon that provoked a lawsuit for obscenity from the Catholic League of the Philippines in the 1950s. They condemned the story which was about a young man's initiation into sex. Many of her fellow writers rallied around her but this didn't have an effect on the court's decision. Alfon went to court and lost. She was found guilty but was given a presidential pardon in 1957.

Many believe that this experience compromised her freedom as a writer. Alfon was also deeply hurt by the fact that some of her contemporaries sided with the Catholic League of the Philippines. She was never the same writer ever since. The writings of Alfon pre-lawsuit are very different from her post-lawsuit output.

I haven't read the story yet. I can't find a copy of it online. So if anyone out there has a copy of the story, can you please send it to me via email? Here's my email address: Thank you very much.

All I can find online about the story is a paragraph/excerpt posted on the Quiapography website.

This is Quiapo now, and Quezon Boulevard is the asphalt he treads on, the church square his area of noise and people, and the rigodons of pedestrian exchange the stream he breasts and becomes part of. So many people, so many cries. Hawkers bent on warding off temporary hungers, shouting sitcharon-ale? lumpia-lumpia. Balut! Flowers make a riot of color in the balconies of the patio, and black net veils hanging from poles add a somber background note. So many people, forming sluggish streams, sluggish streams bearing the rushing griefs of so many people rushing to meet their fates or trying to escape them. Smell of the city, the fragrances and the smells of estero and azucena flowers, asphalt and carbon acrid in the sun, and lead dust from many printing presses crinkling the nostrils and tickling the throat, and the gravy-rancid-oil smell from many restaurants. A little pause brings in another punctuation: the spilled vinegar from the bottle of the sitcharon man, bearing with it the pungent smell of crushed red biting peppers, and then the cheap colognes from the bargain counters of the city stores, worn by the sweating women and the pomaded men, serving only to accent the smell of armpits heavy with hair and the pantaloon briefs of women still reeking with love. A baby toddles across the square, a woman runs after it to pick it up, and Amado recognizes also the smell of saliva dried and not completely wiped away.