Babies, bathwater, and back to the sacred

The Western Enlightenment, in all its euphoria at Reason’s liberation from old-crock orthodoxies, has thrown some babies out with the bathwater — e.g. perspectives and values that might better serve modern people. Such as? Such as common goals and values that promote individual development and satisfaction within shared senses of community. Such as universal principles by which to judge different cultural, religious and ideological institutions and actions. Rationalistic secular reductionism has been left with merely scientistic measures that seem, at … Read more

What I should write (learning to listen to my public)

kicking-dogslarge

Jack Shackaway here. Of Kicking Dogs fame.

It’s true, as Collin says (here and here). Nearly everybody’s a writer these days.  And — given all the media interest in current publishing-industry convulsions — the few who aren’t writers are experts on publishing and books.

I used to tell people I was a novelist. I don’t anymore. That’s as interesting to your average citizen as saying “Every night I go to sleep.” Who isn’t writing a novel?

But if … Read more

Dark Night of My Quick Guns XVII, by Allie Ambit: A brief review

Jack Shackaway presents a review of a recent Mickey’s Muse product:

explosion hollywoodTHIS BOOK never fails to satisfy basic reader expectations, but I was disappointed that, in key ways, it never exceeds them.

Take the lead scene, for example. Mr. Ambit presents everything that Hollywood wants—a startling instance of random structural violence, with much smoke and flame and opportunity for the action hero to squint in the general direction of the shitstorm and wince in a way that suggests strong … Read more

Realities and stories: Realities *are* stories

The big news du jour — after the colorful and convoluted transgressions of celebrity athletes — is the imminent Academy Awards. The three top  contenders for Best Picture are Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty. These three have at least one thing in common: They all stand accused of playing fast and loose with the historical truth of matters.

But what is “objective” about history or, for that matter, about reporting? History is always written by the … Read more

*Bangkok Noir* in French

A darker view of Bangkok.

Photo by Steve Gatto

The French edition of Bangkok Noir is on the shelves. 

Les auteurs de Bangkok Noir

John Burdett

Stephen Leather

Pico Iyer

Colin Cotterill

Christopher G. Moore

Tew Bunnag

Timothy Hallinan

Alex Kerr

Dean Barrett

Vasit Dejkunjorn

Eric Stone

And me too:

Collin Piprell

 

For another, darkly comic view:

Kindle

Amazon (print)

Smashwords

Writerly occupational hazards: Plagiarism

Plagiarism has become more tempting and easier, perhaps, in this digital age. The danger of being found out may also be greater.

Here’s a copy of the letter I e-mailed a week ago to The Tribune, New Delhi (I’ve yet to hear from either the newspaper or the writer):

Dear Editors,

I must inform you that more than half of Uma Vasudeva’s review of C.Y. Gopinath’s The Books of Answers (The Tribune, New Delhi, 7 August 2011) 

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The Book of Answers

C.Y. “Gopi” Gopinath, a Bangkok-based writer of note, has just published his first novel, which promises even greater success than his globetrotting chronicle Travels with the Fish (HarperCollins India, 1999). The Book of Answers, released just this month, also by HarperCollins India, has already soared to #10 on the bestseller list in that country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to don my “let’s pitch this book to a modern market” hat, something I … Read more

Harvest Season—better than The Beach?

In my opinion, Chris Taylor’s Harvest Season is a better story, better told, than Alex Garland’s The Beach.

I compare the two books only because each involves “backpackers” on the Asia trail. Taylor’s story unfolds in relatively remote China, whereas The Beach is set in what are supposed to be islands in the Gulf of Thailand. With Harvest Season, though, I have a much surer sense that the writer is indeed familiar with his geographical and subcultural settings. … Read more

Entertaining war with the spin doctors

Last night I watched Fair Game with friends at RCA House. A thriller with real teeth, this film presents a barely fictionalized account of events related to how the Bush administration apparently lied on a massive, perhaps criminally reprehensible, scale regarding Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program, seeking justification for America’s going to war with Iraq.

One of the most interesting things about Fair Game, for me, is how an entertainment based on actual events cycles back to … Read more