“Bad books rob you of precious time. No author wants to be a time bandit.” These are the words of Christopher Moore, well known Bangkok based author, during his presentation to the Pattaya City Expats Club on Sunday, May 5. Further, he said, “Good books give you knowledge, meaning and insight.” Departing from his past presentations to the Club describing his most recent books, for most of his talk he instead wove together three interesting themes: (1) words, (2) time, and (3) control. He also touched on a fourth theme – blind luck.
He cited, “In the beginning there was the Word” from the Bible and noted that written words are a relatively recent invention in human existence. For most of the time humans have been on the earth, words were delivered only orally. Word of mouth was the only way to exchange information with other people and to pass information on to the next generation. The expression “a man of his word” came out of this oral tradition, Christopher explained. We inherited this tradition. Even today people hear many more words than they read.
Canadian author Christopher Moore presents ‘words about words’ at his 5th of May talk to Pattaya City Expats Club. Discussing the origins of the oral and written word, he said, “For most of the time humans have been on the earth, words were delivered only orally. Word of mouth was the only way to exchange information with other people and to pass information on to the next generation. If you missed a word, it disappeared into thin air.”
Christopher said that before paper and printing were invented, there were no libraries, no readers – only listeners. There was no way to record the sound of one’s voice. Also, there was no way to look up anything. Oral storytelling required a high level of concentration by listeners. “If you missed a word, it disappeared into thin air.” Christopher explained that in societies with a strong oral tradition – like Thailand – education was based on memorisation and repetition.
“How much time do you spend reading?” he asked his audience, rhetorically. There are 8,760 hours in a year, he said. “Think about how you spend those hours. There is not enough time in our lifetimes to do everything we want to do.” He mentioned that most of us try to squeeze in a little time to read and said, “We find purpose and meaning by reading books.” Because time is so precious, Christopher pointed out that “an author has to give you a solid reason for reading his book.”
Although we have some say in how we use our time, Christopher said, we have little control over what happens next in our lives. There are too many circumstances beyond our control. “We think we can control how events unfold, but this is an illusion,” he explained. “We find it hard to give up the illusion of control.” Vincent Calvino is not always in control, Christopher said. This makes readers feel that he is believable. (Vincent Calvino is the Bangkok based private eye protagonist in many of Christopher’s novels.)
Christopher described how blind luck was behind the Vincent Calvino series and his other books. He explained that we wrote his first book while he was at law school in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in the mid-1980s. Christopher recounted that he sent the manuscript to a publisher in New York – and he got lucky. The book was published in 1985. Christopher quit teaching at law school to become a fulltime author. He came to Thailand to research a story in 1988 using a short-term visa, which he renewed, and then renewed again. In eighteen months, Christopher said he wrote three books and like many others, he is still in Thailand. He is now on his 25th book, the fourteenth in the Vincent Calvino series.
Member Tony Heron advises members of the topic for the May 12th meeting; ‘Current topics’, for which he will be the MC.
He noted that people often ask him if he has had any problems with the authorities because his books often deal with controversial subjects. Not so far, he replies. “I have a secret: I never introduce the controversial bits until at least page 20. Censors read the first few pages and move on. They don’t have time to read more.” Some interesting one-liners from Christopher’s presentation: The enemy of the author is not piracy; it is obscurity – One can never recapture lost time – One can’t bank time for later use – The author’s job is to make room for the reader’s imagination – Books are a great way to time travel – We can live the lives of others through books.
Christopher G. Moore is originally from Canada and has lived in Thailand for over two decades. His most recent books are “Missing in Rangoon” and “Faking It in Bangkok.” He also edited two books that were published in 2012: “Phnom Penh Noir” and “The Orwell Brigade.” Christopher’s contribution to “Phnom Penh Noir” is titled “Reunion”; it has been short listed for the Canadian Crime Writers Arthur Ellis 2013 Award for Best Novella. Learn more about Christopher and his books by visiting his website at: http://www.cgmoore.com/.
After Christopher’s presentation, Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg updated everyone on upcoming events and called on Les Edmonds to conduct the Open Forum, where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand.
For more information about the many activities of the Pattaya City Expats Club, visit their website at www.pattayacityexpatsclub.com.
Christopher and wife Od show one of his latest books, ‘Missing in Rangoon’.
Board member Lawrie McLoughlin presents Christopher with a Certificate of Appreciation for his most insightful talk.