With much of the news items at the end of 2010 relating to the release of the Burmese democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi, it reminded me of the book written by Christopher G. Moore a couple of years ago, called Waiting for the Lady (ISBN 974-92186-1-2, Heaven Lake Press).
The book begins with the main character, Sloan Walcott, somewhat of a ‘soldier of fortune’ finding a camera in Rangoon Airport. That camera had an unfinished roll of film inside, which on processing was found to have 18 shots of the Burmese dissident (and democratically elected leader) Aung San Suu Kyi, plus an enigmatic shot of a young woman with a tattoo on one thigh. How these come together and their true meaning, takes you firstly on a trip from Bangkok to Rangoon.
Walcott does not have the totally cynical character of Vincent Calvino, the PI principal character in many of Moore’s other books. However, a man who finds that his wife has carefully filled his shoe with doggy doo for his 52nd birthday is entitled to a fair degree of skepticism about other people’s motives.
After a meeting with the Lady, the tale moves on through Burma, delving deeply into the past and the Japanese involvement in Burma in WWII. Graphic scenes of war bring out the emotion and pathos in those who become embroiled in it. The ending is powerful, with the message that history is what you make of it, depending upon the veracity of those who wrote it – and always a doubtful entity.
This book is on sale in all major book outlets, with Bookazine having it on the shelves at 530 baht for the paperback edition. If you have not read any of author Moore’s previous books, you will quickly become a fan after reading this one. I continue to be enthralled by Moore’s narrative, and the way he can quickly set the mood for any scene. He describes people you “know” and you tend to turn the pages wondering if you will read yourself on the next one! I am convinced I have eaten at the Floating Balls noodle stand; well if not, one run by the same family.
Moore has a great sense of humor too, with the scene where Sloan and his side-kick Hart tour the Drug Elimination Museum in Rangoon, producing guffaws as I read through the constant parade of one-liners and rejoinders.
Moore is an intellectual writer, with some deep sociological views that gleam through the pages. In a passage describing the deaths of student dissidents in Burma, he writes, “Such idealism is a genetic dead end. It rarely gets transmitted to the next generation.” Indeed, just where are the sons of yesterday’s protest movements?
Christopher G. Moore is an author who can conjure up a plausible story to keep you reading his books till the last page. Waiting for the Lady is no exception to this. A great read and a book that I am happy to have on my shelf too. I won’t send the review copy back, Christopher! Even if you send Calvino over.