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Blog Archive August 2008

Bangkok Crime Scene: The Politics of the Mob

There is the sound of thunder to the West. The Bangkok sky is ghoulish gray. Outside my window the motorcycle taxi boys are scanning the sky. Inside their offices, workers are scanning the Internet and Thai TV for news. Petitions have been lodged with the Thai judiciary. The government has requested an injunction and for arrest warrants naming five mob leaders.

 

Last night a mob (some estimate to be 25,000) occupied a radio/TV complex in Bangkok, and later broke into and occupied Government House. Tempers are on edge. Violence is in the air. But the police and military have exercised restraint. There is tension and uncertainty as everyone hunkers down and waits for the final confrontations on the streets to play out. Forces hidden out of sight are huddling, contemplating, weighing, and planning. One plan is to starve them into submission. No food is allowed into the building. No keys given out to the washroom.

 

No one can say as I write this from Sukhumvit Road what will be the political outcome. All that can be said on this Wednesday afternoon in Thailand is that the thunder in the background is a perfect prelude to Act II.

 

There are small crimes, big crimes, and then there are political clashes between forces, each with their own vision of how society ought to function. Sometimes they mix and match, with the robbers and thugs blending in with the true believers. For a novelist or a journalist, the unfolding drama of mobs challenging the government are unsettling, but yield much in terms of the human condition when pushed to a critical limit. However unlike a good crime fiction novel, we can’t quite yet turn the page to see who comes out on top.  May be it will be a draw. Or may be this is just the start of something that will get out of hand.

 

So far no one has been killed.

 

Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

 

You can follow developments on these links:

 

The Bangkok Post: http://www.bangkokpost.com/index.php
 

Bangkok Pundit: http://bangkokpundit.blogspot.com/


Absolutely Bangkok: http://absolutelybangkok.com/live-finally-the-final-showdown/#comment-1355

Posted: 8/27/2008 5:42:37 AM 

 

The Writing Life

If Arthur Krystal’s collection of essays titled The Half Life is anything like the one posted on Harper’s, Sentences it is worth reading. Krystal has a masterly voice like a student from the back of the classroom shouting that the teacher’s panty line is showing.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

“Writers who scrabble for a living come in three denominations: the midlist writer who generally writes better than the big-name writer but has a much smaller following; the even less well-known experimental writer who refuses to sell out and publishes in out-of-the-way journals with names like Egg or Behemoth; and the somewhat successful writer who publishes in all the “right” places, but never really breaks out. To fall into any of these categories is to encounter neglect, rudeness, and indifference.”

 

And

 

“There are, it should be said, some good points about being a freelance writer: You can sleep late, set your own hours, work at your own pace, and not worry about someone looking over your shoulder. On the other hand, you tend to sleep late, you have to set your own hours, you work only when you feel like it, and there is no one looking over your shoulder. Lest you think I’m cranky, let me say that I don’t mind writing; I just mind writing for money. Yes, I’m aware that Dr. Johnson thought that “no man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” But I take a different view. Writing for money is work even when you’re writing what it is you want to write. And if you’re writing only for money, even a lot money, it’s a tough way to make a living.”

Posted: 8/27/2008 3:53:41 AM 

 

The Consumption Society

At the dawn of the industrial revolution, London was awash in gin. Getting drunk was a collective (and very public) way of spending free time. After the 1950s, TV was the new ‘gin’ for the masses in many countries. Bored with all that extra time? Turn on I Love Lucy. Buy the stuff hawked on the advertisements. It became a way of life. A free-time life that most people continue to accept without much thought.

 

As Wikipedia suggests, some people have capped the gin bottle, turned off their TV, rolled up their sleeves, and contributed their two cents worth.

 

It is about our overwhelming desire to consume, to be judged by what we consume, to draw our identity from consumption. These are the ideas that Clay Shirky has been exploring.

 

Over at The Edge, I came across Clay Shirky’s thoughtful talk titled GIN, TELEVISION, AND COGNITIVE SURPLUS “This is something that people in the media world don't understand. Media in the 20th century was run as a single race—consumption. How much can we produce? How much can you consume? Can we produce more and you'll consume more? And the answer to that question has generally been yes. But media is actually a triathlon, it 's three different events. People like to consume, but they also like to produce, and they like to share.”

 

Clay Shirky also wrote: Here Comes Everybody

 

I can highly recommend the book.

Posted: 8/22/2008 12:36:01 AM 

 

SON OF SAM INTERVIEW

I recently gave an interview with the Dutch author Jochem Steen who is the man behind the Son of Sam website:

 

“The cultural and political dimensions of the Calvino series. Vincent Calvino is an investigator living in Thailand. He’s an outsider. And through his eyes the day-to-day realities of a non-Western legal system unfolds.”

 

To continue reading: http://sonsofspade.blogspot.com/2008/08/q-with-christopher-g-moore.html

Posted: 8/21/2008 10:29:56 PM 

 

Bangkok Musings

Yesterday morning I emerged from the MRT (subway/underground) only to find a virtual wall of police and police dogs at the stairs and more police at ground level. Another coup? I wondered. I asked one of the motorcycle taxi drivers what was going on. They often prove to be the most reliable source of information. The driver knows me. He smiled, “George Boossh.” He made the name “Bush” sound like air escaping from a punctured tire and delivered with the famous Thai smile showing no hint of irony. Seems the President was on this way to Father Joe’s Mercy Centre in Kong Toey, and later the President delivered a speech at Queen Sirkit Centre across the street from where I live.

 

·        Progress continues on Calvino #11. I aim to write 2,000 words a day for the first draft. Some days I hit the target, other days I fall short on the word count. I have a reasonably good outline. The emphasis is on reasonable. If I were driving from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, and the outline were my map, I’ve got the road mapped as far as Ayutthaya. In other words, I’ve got a long ways to go and need to figure out the roads as I go along.  The risk is getting lost. But this is the only way I know how to write a novel. It has worked before. Hopefully the first draft will be done in three months.

·       
This
Spirit House continues to occupy the #1 slot on Amazon/Kindle beating The Lace Reader, Moscow Rules, The Last Patriot, Rules of Deception, and a bookshelf of Stephenie Meyer’s vampire books. There is a distinct advantage: Spirit House is a free download for Kindle owners and the promotion last until 15th August. On 16th August, once money must change for the right to download Spirit House I plan to be wearing a parachute to cushion to fall from the K2 of booksellers’ highest mountain.

·        Thomas Schmid’s profile titled Introducing Bangkok’s seamy side appeared on Sunday 3rd August in the Macau Daily Times.

·       The Heaven Lake Press edition of PAYING BACK JACK is scheduled for release in Thailand (only) in December 2008. The Grove/Atlantic edition will appear in the autumn of 2009 in the rest of the world.

·        For those needing a fix for fiction set in Southeast Asia, check out Timothy Hallinan’s The Fourth Watcher It earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and the reader’s comments on Amazon all agree this is a very strong. One reader said, “It is a finely tuned, spinning tale that spans several subplots converging to form a powerful, explosive ending every reader will thrill to experience!” Also not to be missed is Colin Cotterill’s Curse of the Pogo Stick Colin’s series starring 70s plus Laotian forensic investigator Dr. Paiboun has found a large international audience and the New York Times said, “Wonderfully fresh and exotic.”

Posted: 8/8/2008 2:31:52 AM 

 

Ranking Monday Morning in Bangkok

Waking up on a Monday morning in Bangkok to find Spirit House on amazon/kindle’s website is a great way to start the week. The price for the book is certainly right. It is a free download for Kindle owners. The promotion will last until the 15th August.

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 304 KB
Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic (August 1, 2008)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
ASIN: B0013TPWXM
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #1 in Kindle Store (See Bestsellers in Kindle Store)
Popular in these categories: (What's this?)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Books > Mystery & Thrillers
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Books > Fiction > Genre Fiction

Posted: 8/4/2008 1:15:15 AM 

 

MACAU TIMES INTERVIEW

Thomas Schmid wrote “Introducing Bangkok’s seamy side: Christopher G. Moore” in the Macau Times on Sunday 3 August. He writes about the publishing background of the Calvino series and the film deal for the books. “His hero Vincent Calvino accomplishes a carefully choreographed balancing act between eastern and western values, which is testimony to Moore’s thorough understanding of cultural differences, an ability which he has nurtured during his many years as a Bangkok resident.”

Posted: 8/4/2008 12:52:23 AM 

 

SPIRIT HOUSE: AMAZON and GROVE ATLANTIC

Most authors understand that without awareness of a book it is difficult to reach readers. Bloggers, some of whom are authors, offer suggestions as to how to break through the noise of the marketplace and attract the attention of readers. It is hardly a science and opinions differ on what works and what doesn’t. The reality is that most books pass an anonymous life to a quiet grave. That fear drives authors to try ways at marketing. I’ve tried as well with my books over the years. An interview here, a review there, and there is a bump in sales. But what all authors wish for is not a bump but a mountain.

My publisher along with Amazon has given me that rare chance to breakout a crime fiction series. The month of August will be a telling one for SPIRIT HOUSE. I could consult a local shaman to read the tealeaves. But tealeaves are better left to brew and the tea drunk. As what happens next no one knows for sure. It is a new experiment. I am told this is the first joint venture of its kind. And it is also an exciting and creative one, finding a way to bring together a traditional literary publisher and with the most significant provider of new technology for reading books. They can see a common interest, and a way forward that honors books and uses technology to expand readership.

Hopefully the results will demonstrate that publishing isn’t a zero-sum game. That an electronic reading devices like the Kindle don’t kill print copy sales; instead, they increase traditional book sales. Or at least that’s the goal. If this works as everyone involved hopes, then publishers and electronic technology providers will have established a common interest beneficial to both.

The deal is Kindle reader can download Spirit House for free for two weeks from 1st August. The trade paperback edition of SPIRIT HOUSE will be released on 28th August in the US.

This is the press release from Amazon and Grove Atlantic

NEW YORK/ SEATTLE, July 30: SPIRIT HOUSE, a novel by Christopher G. Moore, will be made available free to Amazon Kindle customers before its print publication on August 28. The book, to be published by Grove Press, will be available as a free download for Amazon Kindle customers between August 1 and August 15. Kindle is Amazon’s portable reader that wirelessly downloads books, blogs, magazines and newspapers to a crisp, high-resolution electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper. For more information on Kindle, or to order a Kindle for $359, visit http://amazon.com/kindle.

“Earlier this year, we introduced this internationally bestselling author to the United States,” said Morgan Entrekin, President and Publisher of Grove Atlantic. “We think this innovative partnership is a great way to expand Moore’s audience even further.”

"Amazon is pleased to work with Grove to make Christopher G. Moore's SPIRIT HOUSE available one month in advance of print for Kindle owners," said Ian Freed, vice president of Kindle. "We continue to offer unique benefits for Kindle owners while adding to the Kindle catalog of over 140,000 books."

SPIRIT HOUSE is the second of Moore’s “Vincent Calvino Crime Novels” to be published in the United States. Another book in the series, The Risk of Infidelity Index was published by Atlantic Monthly Press in January 2008.

In the nearly twenty years he has lived in Bangkok, Moore has written nine novels starring the Calvino character, a disbarred American lawyer working as a P.I. in the dark and steamy Thai capital. Internationally acclaimed, the prize-winning novels have been translated into ten languages. Publishers Weekly called The Risk of Infidelity Index a “complex, intelligent novel,” and according to Kirkus, “the darkly raffish Bangkok milieu is a treat.”

Posted: 8/1/2008 6:56:12 AM 

 

 

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