“Felix Starro” by Lysley Tenorio

Lysley Tenorio’s Felix Starro, a short story in Monstress, is about an old man and his grandson, both of whom are named Felix Starro, a faith-healing duo who perform Extractions of Negativities, a ritual of such profound spiritual healing that some blood is shed in the process. (If no blood is shed, which is very rare, the client is deemed “clean” from negativity.)

What? Is this person a shaman? Maybe. After all, Filipino culture (this is a compilation of Philippine literature that I found in the bookstore!) subscribes to a lot of superstitious and supernatural beliefs (see East of the Sun and Fallow’s Flight for other short reads), so I’m not surprised that people line up and, better yet, pay for an Extraction.

The story also covers migration; a few decades ago, Filipinos, with hopes of greener pastures, began migrating to the US. The problem is that they seem to think that time has stood still in the Philippines while they lived their lives anew in the US, and so we have Filipino Americans still raving about Felix Starro while the rest of the Philippines has moved on.

Well, greener pastures do not necessarily mean a life abroad. For the young Felix Starro, it means leaving the family business, Extractions. A new life, however, comes at a cost, and the young Felix eventually realizes: for every decision, sacrifices must be made.

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