There is a quotation attributed to Mark Twain which goes something like “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” When I saw this week’s review book on the Bookazine shelves (What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, ISBN 978-0-06-204741-0, Harper Collins, 2009), I rashly believed that it would be one of the self-help books, full of quotable quotes and the principles of ‘feel good-ness’. I could not have been more wrong.
I have to admit that I approached this book with more than a modicum of dread. My knowledge of Japan and Japanese culture is sparse at best. I remain confused as to which item on the Japanese buffet is sushi and which is sashimi. However, I do know that the worst hangover of my life was after drinking hot sake to excess one evening. I have abstained from Japanese liqueur ever since.
Another anthology of thrilling tales (that is the promise on the front cover) from story teller Jim Algie, a well published author who has traveled the world and has managed to recount the tales from his wanderings.
The subtitle for Painted in the Tropics is The Life and Times of Swiss artist Theo Meier, and is a biography of the man who spent many years in Chiang Mai after tasting many countries in the South Seas when younger.
A very different book this week. Vow - A Memoire of Marriage (and other affairs) (ISBN 978-1-4088-2780-2, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013) was written by Wendy Plump and is a first person expose of herself, with no limits!
William Peskett is a prolific writer these days, with several books of poetry, essays and short fiction offerings, and Sweet Song of the Siren (and others) (978-149123-488-1, Durian Books, 2013) is his latest. I have reviewed a few of his earlier published works, including The Last Boat to Samui, which I finished the review by saying “I did enjoy the vignettes of ex-pat foibles taken to the point of no return, as I am sure you will as well.” Consequently I began reading Sweet Song of the Siren with some anticipation.
When I saw this book on the Bookazine shelves I initially presumed it was about the infamous Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez also known as Carlos the Jackal. But no, this book, The Jackal’s Share (ISBN 978-0-330-53255-6, Pan Books, 2013) by Chris Morgan Jones is not about Carlos, and is in fact the second spy thriller from this author. The first, An Agent of Deceit was given critical acclaim, and this one follows on with the same secret agent, Ben Webster, being one of the principal characters.
Despite the long title to this book Red-Light Nights, Bangkok Daze (ISBN 978-981-08-1076-4, Monsoon Books, 4th edition, 2013), being the 4th edition, it must have been selling well for a SE Asian book. It is also author William Sparrow’s first book.
If reincarnation is really what’s ahead, then I am sure my past included a spell as a gangster. Why? Because for some unknown reason, I am attracted to the folklore of illegal behavior. Al Capone rings a sympathetic bell for me, as do Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. After watching the Bonnie and Clyde movie, I left the theater with a hatred of policemen, so when I spotted James Morton’s Mammoth Book of Gangs in Bookazine (ISBN 978-1-78033-088-4, 2012, Robinson publishers), and saw that Big Al was mentioned, I had to read it all!
At a very early stage of my adult life I was advised there were two topics to avoid in discussions. One was politics and the other? Religion!
I rather took the advice to heart, as these days I am a confirmed atheist, but at least this was to give me a clean slate to read The Religions Book (ISBN 978-1-4093-2491-1, DK, 2013) without bias in any particular direction of faith.