CAHSS Faculty Articles

The Durian Humour of Alejandro R. Roces

Publication Title

Philippine Quaterly of Culture and Society



Publication Date



' is doubtful that Roces could have had any illusions, originally, about the literary value of these slight, episodic, artificially heightened, embarrassingly depopulated anecdotes'. So Casper (71) in 1966 disposed of Alejandro R. Roces' collection of short stories entitled Of Cocks and Kites, and it is very easy to understand why Casper was so disappointed with this book.1 One reason, no doubt, is a device that Roseburg (Introduction' n.p.) identifies as an American import: the 'dumb joke'. For instance, in 'Of Cocks and Kings', Kiko spins a far-fetched yarn about anting-anting, which makes a rooster invulnerable but not invincible (certainly a distinction replete with sophistry), to which his brother retorts, 'But why do you have to add bull to a cock story?' (Cocks 71). Again, at the end of this story the King of Roosters, which has not had its comb, wattles, or earlobes removed (so that it will retain its regal appearance), tires because of the excess weight on its head (crown) and thus becomes vulnerable to a lethal head strike by its opponent. Looking at the dead 'King of Roosters', the narrator is impelled to remark, 'Heavy indeed is the head that wears a crown' (Cocks 28).





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