June 9, 2011

Bangkok Noir in The Nation - June 9, 2011

Better late than never! The launch of Bangkok Noir was over two months ago, but The Nation finally got around to running a front page article in the Life section about it today. This is understandable, because Khun Suthichai probably has had his people running around all over creation covering the upcoming elections and eventual craziness that will happen in Thailand. Luckily, I've had time to read and enjoy all the stories in this collection, and it's boasts many of the heavies in the Thai writing community. 

Here's the review I put up on Amazon:
Anyone who has spent time in Thailand knows that the Tourist Authority's image of the smiling woman gracefully executing a wai with a face that has been photoshopped to make her look more white is a complete farce. These writers explore the darker and more realistic side of Bangkok that lingers in every garbage-ridden soi and in a population of 12 million people crammed together in this concrete jungle. Some of the stories of farangs cruising for bargirls and things go awry may seem a bit cliche, but these are the writers who defined the noir and thriller genre for Thailand. The writers are able to make the stories interesting and fun without resorting to dull stereotypes about Thai people and expats live in Thailand.

I thoroughly enjoyed General Vasit's story, as it is great to read a work of fiction from someone of his stature in the Royal Thai Police. The other well-known authors (Christopher Moore, Stephen Leather, Dean Barrett, Colin Piprell, Tew Bunnag) all provide some great quick reads as well.

I took it down from a 5-star to a 4-star, because I thought the price was pretty steep for an ebook. $8.95 is a lot for those of us on a Thai salary. Also, there is a formatting error (I use the Kindle app for the original iPad) and the entire Introduction is one big hyperlink. Not sure if this Apple's fault (possibly), but I've never seen this before in the other ebooks in my library.

If you want to learn more about the real Bangkok and be entertained, this is definitely worth buying.
I saw a talk with Stephen Leather, the author of one the stories, and he had some great advice for new writers. It is great that they asked General Vasit to write one of the stories. He's a pretty big deal around these parts, and his experience dealing with corruption made for a very interesting story about problems within the Royal Thai Police.

So far, there are 4 5-star reviews, my 4-star review since I'm a cheap bastard (even though a portion of the profits go to charity), and one 3-star review that I don't agree with at all. "Anonymous" claims that the book does not describe Bangkok well, but "I live in Bangkok and know this city well". There are a zillion expat assholes in this country who think they know everything about this place. The only thing I know for sure about Thailand is that no one knows everything about Thailand. The Prime Minister doesn't know what's going to happen tomorrow in this city, which is why writing and reading about it makes it so fascinating.


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