Thailand Footprint: The People, Things, Literature, and Music of Thailand and the Region


Artist Chris Coles talks with Author Tom Vater at Bangkok Fiction Night of Noir

(Photo by Aroon Vater)

Last night I was one of the lucky ones in attendance at Bangkok Fiction Night of Noir, held at the historic CheckInn99. It was a night of music, poetry, art, literature readings and a sense of community. A village forming, however briefly, in a city of 12 million souls. The evening started off with British author James A. Newman, the organizer of the event, reading from the works of American author and essayist William S. Burroughs and also his own novel, Bangkok City in an emotional and appropriate kickoff. Bangkok is a city where anything is possible and this evening became possible because of James A. Newman. Good on him.NightofNoirLineup—————————————————————————-

NIGHT OF NOIR lineup: Artist, Chris Coles, author & publisher, Tom Vater, author James A. Newman, poet, John Gartland, author and essayist Christopher G. Moore, author Dean Barrett

Noir poet John Gartland, from England, was next with readings from his very dark and noir poetry. Of the entire lineup I was least familiar with John’s work and I came away thoroughly entertained. It was a thoughtful and at times brutally accurate read. I found myself nodding in agreement many times with his dark assessment of Bangkok and often smiling wryly at the accuracy of it all. Next up was Bangkok legend, playwright, poet and author Dean Barrett with a flawless and insightful reading from his novel, IDENTITY THEFT: ALZHEIMER’S IN AMERICA, SEX IN THAILAND, TANGLES OF THE MIND. Dean is multi-talented and if my 58 year old eyes were not lying there were times the 70 year old Barrett did not have to depend on his glasses. Amazing. Dean is a role model and mentor to many in Bangkok and not just writers. Always witty, always gracious. My only nit with Dean is he carries his very good quality of self deprecation a little too far. I have a theory that sometimes there is a direct relationship between talent and self deprecation and Dean supports my theory. Next up was writer and CRIME WAVE PRESS publisher, Tom Vater. In all honesty, I am much more familiar with how Tom has lived his life than his books. But I can tell you this man knows how to live. Do yourself a favor and Google Tom Vater or CRIME WAVE PRESS if you are not familiar with either. You will not be bored. A very interesting man leading a very interesting life, whom I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time. I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing as many titles from CRIME WAVE PRESS as I can in 2013.

Bangkok Noir Author CGM

Portrait of Bangkok author Christopher G. Moore by Chris Coles

Bangkok artist and fellow Californian transplant, Chris Coles is another who is never boring. Chris is a former film maker, a student and master of the visual arts. Chris never disappoints with his presentations. A slide show of his many colorful and vibrant paintings was shown as he was at the microphone. He spoke of the noir movement in Bangkok and summed it up brilliantly in two words: density and velocity. As a professional summarizer of written documents I don’t think you can do any better in summarizing the attraction of the Bangkok night. They are worth repeating: density and velocity. That is the Bangkok night. That is what brings 14 million people on airplanes to Thailand every year. Chris had the pleasure of introducing well known Bangkok author, Christopher G. Moore. Christopher read an excerpt from his short story REUNION from Phnom Penh Noir, about helping a Cambodian refugee get to America, a story where Christopher relayed to the audience there are times when an author meets a character he wrote about – sometimes they are real; sometimes they had been a work of fiction that becomes real. An interesting and entirely believable admission. The story concluded with these powerful words: I don’t believe in capital punishment except for one offense: fucking with people’s hopes and dreams. Put those bastards against the nearest wall and shoot them.

And so this was how BANGKOK FICTION NIGHT OF NOIR concluded. But not really. It was just the beginning of more memorable moments as Chris Catto-Smith, the owner/manager of CheckInn 99 came to the microphone and gave a brief history of the historic cabaret club. Books were bought, books were signed, many pictures were taken and a five piece band, including three female Pinay cabaret singers, which has been performing there for 14 consecutive years, named Music of the Heart, came on . They were great. James A. Newman was great for conceiving the night. It was a night to remember. As Dean Barrett so eloquently pointed out when he thanked the audience for coming out, in Bangkok you have a lot of choices. For anybody who attended BANGKOK FICTION NIGHT of NOIR, it was a very good choice. People drifted out around midnight. The night was still young in Bangkok.

8 Responses to “Forgetting myself at a memorable evening … Bangkok Fiction Night of Noir”

  1. Robert U. Doyle

    Thanks for the report Kevin. I will just arrive in BKK on Sat en route back to Canada in a few days. I have been at ChiangRai Rajabhat for 5 months helping with new PhD program. I got my first crime fiction novel published last May, ‘The Tangerine Murders: dancing with death’ by Robert U. Doyle, now only available as an e book. I’m really sorry I could’ve be there to meet all of you and meet authors I have read a lot, especially Christopher and James. I really enjoy your first couple of blogs. Keep it up. Bob Doyle

    Sent from my iPad

    • Kevin Cummings

      Thanks, Dean. And I am with you on those Pinay singer/dancers. I had not seen them in years. I had to the confirm with the waiter they were the same gals. Still great performers.

  2. Kevin Cummings

    Thanks, Robert. I was just up to Chiang Rai for the very first time, with my wife recently. Lovely area. Like going back in time.

  3. James A. Newman

    Great blog Kevin, keep ’em coming….

    “NIGHT OF NOIR lineup: Artist, Chris Coles, author & publisher, Tom Vater, poet, John Gartland, author and essayist Christopher G. Moore, author Dean Barrett”

    But who is that handsome-looking gentleman third from left?

    The ghost of Nob Hope?

    Great article kevin. Thanks for everything, dude.

  4. Christopher

    An excellent summary of the event, Kevin. You are appointed the official recorder of such future literary events. I can’t think of a better reviewer/critic to do the job.

    • Kevin Cummings

      Thanks, Christopher. Doing anything to get out of paying a cover charge goes all the way back to my University days. Of course back then we just had to hop a fence or two. Cheers.

  5. mrmister1964

    Good read.
    Seems like a great night,which I miss out.
    Luckily, because of you Kevin, I have had the pleasure of meeting several of them (online and face to face) later on.


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