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
So far no one has been
Let’s see what tomorrow
You can follow developments on
The Bangkok Post: http://www.bangkokpost.com/index.php
Bangkok Pundit: http://bangkokpundit.blogspot.com/
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
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.”
“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.”
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.
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
Clay Shirky also wrote: Here Comes
I can highly recommend the
I recently gave an interview with
the Dutch author Jochem Steen who is the man behind the Son of Sam
“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:
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.”
|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.
File Size: 304 KB
Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic (August 1, 2008)
Sold by: Amazon
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #1 in Kindle Store (See Bestsellers in Kindle Store)
Popular in these categories:
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Books > Mystery & Thrillers
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Books > Fiction > Genre Fiction
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.”
|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.
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
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