Thailand Footprint: People, Things, Literature, Music and Henry Miller too. Forget Yourself Here

Posts by Kevin Cummings

British author, Matt Carrell is a man of many good ideas. I genuinely like and admire that aspect of his personality. Most everything starts with an idea. Four years ago Matt had a good idea to meet-up with a successful online entrepreneur who had created a blog catering to readers of Thailand fiction. The thinking was this could help him sell hundreds if not thousands of additional copies of his books in a short span of time. When Matt fell short of accomplishing that goal he then, and only then, contacted me. I’ve always admired a man with a good Plan B.

Author Matt Carrell

Matt Carell has an impressive back list for such a young guy. It includes, Thai Lottery; Thai Kiss; Vortex; the sequel Vortex the End GameBlood Brothers; A Friend in Need; Something Must Be Done and now Crazy Medicine. Most have Thai-centric themes of varying degrees. Matt came close to getting Vortex on the silver screen and learned much about the process of taking a writer’s dream (or nightmare) of turning words into audio and visual art. When that, unfortunately, didn’t materialize (Vortex is reviewed here: Enjoy the Ride), it was back to Plan B. Enter the collaborative process of Crazy Medicine – A Short Film.

It has been four years since Matt and I met at an upscale dive beer bar on Sukhumvit Soi 4 to discuss the finer points of literature and plagiarism. The moment he walked in the joint I could see he was a man of distinction, good lookin’ and so refined.

So let me get right to the point: Matt and I are friends and have been since the fall of 2013, the year this blog was created. With full disclosure out of the way it is my pleasure to review Crazy Medicine, the paperback by Matt Carrell.

Crazy Medicine has been creating a natural buzz in Bangkok artistic circles since the completion of the short film. It is directed by veteran Hollywood cameraman and recent award winning feature film director, Richie Moore. Crazy Medicine was screened just this month in Bangkok on two occasions. The cast / crew responsibilities and scheduling fell on producer James Newman. Newman assembled a great ensemble.

I have not yet seen a screening of the short 22 minutes film but it is impossible to read Crazy Medicine without the vivid images of the following actors popping into my brain: Chris Wegoda (Daeng the handsomely tough drug dealer), John Marengo (savvy veteran journalist), Jon Sampson (showing his versatility once again in his role as sex tourist), Kate Tiger (stunning vixen), Libby Jennings (Emily the millennial crusader), Maythavee Weiss (the pole dancing temptress), and Michael New (as the Man in Brown or Thai cop for the uninitiated). These images are conjured up due to the action packed trailer that was also released this month, which you can see below. The terrific editing and sound over choices were made by Jesse Maddox. John Fengler makes a cameo appearance as himself. The man gets about.

Back to the book. Matt Carrell takes some tried and true paths, some might say well worn, and adds some cognitive swerves into a cohesive and believable story. Matt talks the talk well because he has walked the walk more than a few times around Bangkok’s uneven concrete jungle. The story revolves around the disillusioned millennial in England, Emily dealing with the aftermath of Brexit and a recently elected leader of the free world. Matt impressively sums up the important economic and social issues that well-read people are aware of today, while contrasting modern times with the good old days of blessings past. When Emily gets to Thailand, with her inquisitive nature, there are new experiences waiting for her in the shadows of Thai society that she hadn’t expected. You’ll learn, among other things, that the contents in a Pringles can are not good for your health, mental or physical.

There is plenty of action in a short span of time. The edible delicacies mentioned sparingly are more in line with an entomologist’s taste than a gastronomist’s. That’s good news for readers of pulp fiction. The author humbly admits that a Booker Prize is probably not in his future. Carrell is a skillful writer and definitely not a plodding plotter. He captures western guilt among many other emotions found in the east and west.

I like the thoughts of Elmore Leonard on writing so my chief complaint with Crazy Medicine – A Short Story, is that it is narrative heavy at times. The good news is that Carrell left out the parts that readers skip. Crazy Medicine is a short and bittersweet tale with as many twists and turns as a ride down Lombard Street in San Francisco.

The story has Thai features found in other Bangkok fiction that are “same same but different”. The different and creative elements of Crazy Medicine carried the day. In addition to the quick paced story you get a great and appropriate prologue plus a 10 page background and movie update. The story ends with 1-2 fastball and curve ball pitches.

Crazy Medicine not only left me wanting to see the short film, I found myself thinking a new project should be on the table. A Plan B if you will, in the event a feature film doesn’t result as the short makes the rounds of various world-wide film festivals: The Making of Crazy Medicine – The Movie. I could easily watch an additional 60 minutes of documentary film making involving the actors and crew mentioned above.  As Charles Bukowski said, “Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” There’s no danger of that happening to Matt Carrell or the talented people involved in the production of Crazy Medicine. Best wishes and continued success on the film festival circuit to all concerned.

Buy Crazy Medicine the short story here

 

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Lawrence Osborne has occupied rarefied air in writing spheres since he made a name for himself in New York City over twenty-five years ago. Versatility became a strong suit. His star is shining brighter and rising higher of late since he abandoned the young man’s dying game of journalism for the equally risky life of a full-time nomadic novelist. After making it there he acquired or maintained an animal confidence to make it anywhere. He has lived or visited for stretches in Mexico, Istanbul, Macao, Italy, Greece, Cambodia, and Bangkok where he currently resides in a spacious condominium.  The odds favor that there is no wind chime hanging above the balcony. His grown son lives in Japan.

The British born Osborne ticked all the right boxes to gain proper employment in London or New York with his Cambridge education and short stint at Harvard but opted instead for a pair of traveling shoes. As expats who choose to live in Bangkok go, Osborne brings more social capital to the scene than your typical foreigner living in Thailand. This is to be admired, ignored, envied or derided depending on your own psychological make-up, accomplishments, time management skills, and views on expat society and social standing.

The class conscious and taste conscious (good and bad) Brit was a veteran feature writer for The New York Times Magazine. He’s been published in Playboy, The Wall Street Journal, Salon, The New Yorker, and Men’s Vogue where he penned a monthly column on wine. His literary works are represented by Elyse Cheney and her agency. Ms Cheney made a credible list of the 50 Most Powerful Female Executives in New York City for 2015. Osborne’s non-fiction books include, The Poisoned Embrace, The Wet and the Dry, The Accidental Connoisseur, and Bangkok Days. Recent honors include being selected by the Raymond Chandler estate to write a Philip Marlowe crime novel. The work has been submitted but no publishing date has been announced. His critically acclaimed novel, The Forgiven is now a screenplay to be directed by John Michael McDonagh. In short, life is hard but not right now for Lawrence Osborne.

OsbornePhoto

Beautiful Animals is the third Osborne novel that I have read – Ballad for a Small Player and Hunters in the Dark the latter set in Cambodia, are the other two. I found similar themes in each, along with decadently descriptive prose. The two main characters are young, fit and beautiful females. One slightly younger and more beautiful than the other. “Beautiful as panthers” according to Sam, short for Samantha, an American on summer holiday with her parents, the Haldane’s from New York. The primary setting is the Greek Island of Hydra and the surrounding areas. There Sam meets and falls under the spell of narcissistic Naomi, the dream seeking daughter of a rich British art collector, a hesitant raconteur named Jimmie Codrington. The inevitable island gossip includes rumors that Jimmie once palled around with Aristotle Onassis. Old Bohemians traced back to Leonard Cohen’s day still survive. Jimmie has owned an expensive Hydra home on a hill since the 1980s, filled with precious art. The acrimonious household includes Naomi’s not quite wicked step-mother of Greek origin, Phaine. Funny, her nickname, is snobbish and not particularly humorous when she’s not making a toast or sober. Funny doesn’t make the grade compared to the birth mother. They never do.

The novel is billed as a psychological study. It is. It could also be called a psychological simmer; it never gets up to a full boil, but that’s probably in the recipe Osborne planned to serve. The story is often dark, in places, but as the languid narrative voice states and this reader agrees, “The dark, however, was not a bad place to be.”  Had the author heard a different calling he would have made a fine psychologist. A cruel eye makes for a better diagnostician, no doubt, than a confined therapist. People rarely change in Osborne’s novels and when they do it’s usually not for the better.

There is a resentful maid, of course, a Greek named Carissa who likes to have a laugh at the tourists’ expense. Loyal or not is anyone’s guess in the early stages. A rowboat oar wielding, pot selling local female makes recurring and memorable entrances and exits. Brief shadows of supernatural beings or guilt are also served up, ambiguously. Thankfully, no short-cuts were taken in the spiritual realm.

Pacing is Osborne’s strength yet there are possibly overly descriptive passages that include food and drink of the delicious and expensive variety. There are more feasts than assassins in this tale. Other readers may find the going slow. The story turns early on when Naomi and Sam discover a bearded Arab wearing only track suit bottoms and vagabond thongs. A scheme is devised to help the Muslim migrant for humanitarian reasons. Or not; it’s never clear. The secular Osborne must have had fun pairing godly and ungodly people together. Neither is particularly moral, even when overpaying for baked goods. That’s the desired message to consider.

Bad things happen to not so good people without a whole lot of action or dialogue going on at times.

The most likable character is a no longer dashing but still refined 70 year old sleuth, Mr. Rockhold. I enjoyed Rockhold for many reasons including his prudent choice of red wine. In Osborne’s fictional world the investigator wears a Panama hat (not a Fedora) and politely holds it to one side as he introduces himself to a panicking Naomi. The migrant, Faoud, turns out to be refined and educated as well and has a musical background. He later trades in his sandals for a pair of $600.00 shoes. A mistake, and the chase is on.

If there is a weakness to the storytelling in Beautiful Animals it is the believability of the plot points, big and small. Had the manipulative animal been American and the persuadable animal been from England I doubt even the author would have bought into the predicaments that ensue due to poor decision making made by intelligent and affluent people with much to lose. They both, after all, like the reluctant police officers pursuing a dangerous criminal in the tiny Italian settlement of Pian di Sco, cared about their lives, or should have. The fact that the nationalities are reversed does not make the scenarios any more credible. On the plus side before the plot points are made, misdirections and uncertainty are the norm.

There may be some worlds where a father can keep an audible secret concealed from his daughter for thirty years but none that I have been around. Osborne makes up for these lapses with his keen sense of observation and a breakdown of manipulation, apathy, meaninglessness, morality, religion, and greed. These elements coupled with the pacing make this a quick and sinister read.

Beautiful Animals should enjoy brisk sales on the East coast of the USA and with those who have summer homes in desirable locales. Hollywood will also likely take notice. I enjoyed and recommend Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne. But, I am looking forward to his take on Philip Marlowe. That should go down a treat. Lawrence Osborne knows that the best way to get a handful of simmering eggs to hard boiled is to turn up the heat.

Beautiful Animals is available at all the usual outlets. Published by Hogarth Press.

  • ISBN-10: 0553447378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553447378

To learn more Lawrence Osborne and his books go to: lawrenceosborne.net/

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As much as I like Declan Power in The Chiang Mai Chronicle by T Hunt Locke, Colin McDonald AKA Big Mac is my new favorite protagonist by this up and coming historical crime fiction thriller writer. Locke has proven himself to be an astute observer of humans and human behavior, particularly the kind of behavior that takes place in the Bangkok night.

The author gets all the ingredients right for me in Repent: characters, settings, lust, laughs and just the right amount of love potion thrown in at the end. There are similarities between Declan and Big Mac; they both remind me of Mike Hammer with their gruff personalities and good fortune to be around a bevy of beauties. The writing style remains in the vein of Mickey Spillane. However, Locke has definitely kicked it up a notch with Colin, a legally troubled former East Coast prosecuting attorney who knows how the games are played and enjoys playing them all. The 6’4″ Big Mac is now a Bangkok troubleshooter who has no problem following a devil into the darkest corners of the City of Angels.

Locke impresses me because he improves as a writer the old fashioned way – hard work. He keeps at his craft, he keeps producing and he keeps getting better while not being afraid to mix up his formula. There are pages where he pushes the envelop with belief suspension but you are having so much fun at the time you hardly notice. I liked the Catholic Church angle thrown into the mystery along with the local history involved and the cast of colorful characters including an expat known as John the Baptist, a former nightlife player turned bible thumper.

Locke doesn’t phone it in – he does his research but never at the expense of entertainment or coming across in a “look what I know” way which would detour you out of the story. It all flows together evenly. What you learn about Constantine Phaulkon, a Greek adventurer who ended up being an influential member of 17th Century Siamese society is a case in point. Repent is a solid historical mystery and a fine effort by Locke. I’m looking forward to a return of Colin McDonald in future tales, along with his love interest Ai and the requisite Royal Thai Police sidekick, although I must admit I’m going to miss his old office on Soi Cowboy for the glass and chrome palace he’s been upgraded to.

This is not a life altering read. Repent is a fun romp into the back streets, sheets, and red light districts of Bangkok as Big Mac tries to solve the proverbial maniacal mass murderer with a biblical bent. Give it a go at the beach or at an afternoon beer bar between your 12 ounce curl routine.

Click the Picture of T Hunt Locke and his two children to go his Amazon Author page

Photograph by Jiraporn Jaisan

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JVPic

Joel Villines on the River of Kings in Bangkok, Thailand

Joel Villines is a traveler, a father, a writer, an author, and the owner of a boxing gym in L.A. to rattle off just a few nouns. The adjectives one can attach to him are more interesting. It is said on his Amazon author page that Joel was born at home on a pile of newspapers on Chicago’s South side, where he led a truly remarkable life that involved freezing temperatures, reading stacks of books, and accompanying his grandfather to neighborhood bars to play Donkey Kong. He survived Catholic Schooling, and vowed that if he lived long enough, he would move to a warmer climate. Forty-plus years later, he is finally living the dream along with having the odd nightmare about ghost writing a horror screenplay. J.D. Villines now resides in Los Angeles, where he runs Echo Park Boxing and Muay Thai Gym, located on Sunset Boulevard no less. He also writes for the Hollywood crowd. Before that he spent a lot of time in a stagnant, malaria filled village on the border of Thailand and Cambodia. If he hasn’t been interviewed before, someone screwed up.

KC: Your first novel is a zombie thriller called Dead Bangkok. What’s the back story on how that evolved? 

JD: I was living with my girlfriend (Nok from Dead Bangkok) in her village and a few incidents occurred that led to that book. For one, we had just come back from a long trip to Koh Chang, and were spending our days hiking into Cambodia through a little border checkpoint near her village. Not sure exactly how I caught this particular fever but it was a doozy. There was a major monsoon at the time and her family only had a scooter—so they claimed there was no way to get me to a hospital with the dirt roads now being washed out and all. A village “doctor” came by to check on me. He gave me Tylenol and not much else.  I had a 106 degree fever for about 6 days straight, and was pretty certain I was dying. I wrote out my “will” which ended up being the first few lines of the novel. “Ours is a long slow suicide. Life metered out in milligrams and bullets. Parasites and hosts. An ecosystem of the absurd.”

When my fever finally broke, I was physically destroyed but had enough mental strength to demand a ride to a hospital. Somehow they found a cousin with a pickup truck and they took me to a government hospital in Sisaket. They gave me a bag full of drugs and I went back to my girls shack, slept on the floor under the mosquito net, and wrote the rest of that novel.

Joel’s sleeping quarters and near death experience scene in a Thai village near the Cambodian border

Nok-who was my muse at the time and a character in the book, is still my friend but we are no longer a couple. Her whole family was into some “dark Buddhism” or what we, in the west would call “black magic”. Black magic is generally defined as being selfish in origin. Casting spells for love, money, power, or sex. Maybe a few curses on your business rival as well. I learned about Thailands huge pantheon of ghosts from her. Actually, the amount I learned about Thailand’s underbelly from her was staggering. She was, and is, a total character of a person. I really miss those days in our shack—fever and all.

Joel Villines [Right] shown with Muay Thai Champion Anuwat Kaewsamrit

KC: What have you learned so far during your time on the planet? The important stuff and the unimportant stuff – break it down for me.

JD:  A magician’s only real power is causing synchronicities to happen. Once you can achieve that—all of the strange, beautiful things in life will jump out at you. Everything else is trivial and not worth mentioning. As of now, I am only adept in my one-man-esoteric order. I still can’t afford grimoires bound in human skin but I am saving up.

KC: Talk about aggression: ​in music, in writing and in the ring. When is aggression most useful to you? When is it most harmful?

Martial Arts instructor Joel Villines with pads at Echo Park Boxing Gym

JV: You don’t need aggression. You only need lack of fear, and an inner-calm. The fearless can move through the world effortlessly. The fearless can defeat any opponent. This is the way of the sage.

KC: What are the cultural differences between rural Thailand and urban USA. Put another way, what are the differences between La La Land and the Land of Smiles? Contrast your life in rural Thailand with your life now as the owner and instructor of a Muay Thai gym in historic Echo Park, California. 

JV: In rural Thailand (Kantaralak, Sisaket), I lived in a shack, swatted mosquitos, and pondered the stars with a girl I loved. In Los Angeles, I live in an apartment one block from where the Black Dahlia was murdered, observe the cult members that permeate the area, and watch police helicopters with a girl that I adore. I came back to the States, ostensibly, to make money so that I could return to live in Thailand one day. Now, I am not so sure that is my goal anymore. There is something to be said for dating an intelligent, successful woman here in the USA. My needs have changed….for now anyway.

The Muay Thai gym I opened is a community gathering place in Echo Park. Very happy to see what it has grown into. The twenty years I spent going back and forth to Muay Thai gyms allowed me to be where I’m at. An entity beyond me. Something that helps spread the Thai cultural meme to people who had no previous exposure to it.

KC: Had any good nightmares lately? Share. 

JV: Well, I had been ghost writing a bit when I came back to the States. My nightmare seemed to evolve out of that experience.  In the nightmare, I was hired to take over writing duties on a horror screenplay. The previous screenwriter had died while writing it. I will kind of leave it there because I am working it into a story now–but it scared the shit out of me.

KC: What superstitions do you have? Inside or outside the ring.

JV: I seem to constantly find nails on the street, in parking lots, or near cars. I have picked them up for years. I can’t even remember how many. Possibly several hundred by now. I get a flash that someone will run over them and then blow their tire out on the highway. So, I pick them up to avert death and disaster. I am aware that the agents of fortune are using me as a tool for good or ill. I could be saving the next Pulitzer winner, or maybe even helping a bank robber get away from a crime. Who knows? I do it anyway.

Joel Villines at Monk blessing ceremony for Echo Park Gym

KC: Lets do some free association. I’ll throw out some words and you write whatever first comes into your mind:

 

Conformity: I do it everyday, and then spend the day undoing it.

Dregs: Some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet.

Drag Queens: My GF lives two blocks from a cross-dressing evil-clown bar. Sometimes they carry axes. The world needs more of that.

Ghosts: I’ve created my own poltergeist. He goes with me everywhere. So do a few ‘hitchhikers’ I’ve picked up in the sundry parts of Thailand.

Breast implants: They look better on ladyboys than real women.

Henry Rollins: He is revered in Redondo Beach where I lived for 15 years—so it’s almost sacrilegious to speak against the pontiff of punk. I went to one of his spoken word gigs in Chicago when I was a kid and he ranted about how stupid boxing was ( I was a boxer and was kind of like, huh?). Then he proceeded to extol the virtues of lifting weights. Kind of the alpha-bro of the art world. Henry and Danzig should have a morning workout show. I liked Ron Reyes of  Black Flag more.

Jerry Brown: His aura smiles and never frowns….his suede denim secret police will come for your uncool niece.

Raging Bull (The movie): Quite possibly, the most unrealistic boxing choreography in movie history. Great movie nonetheless.

Las Vegas: Where do you start? It’s pre-apocalyptic that’s just screaming to be post. All you can eat sushi, machine-guns, legal brothels, cheap apartments, and chances are you’ll run into someone you know there. The downtown area is trying hard to attract hipsters. I think there’s like two or three there now. Considering getting a weekend place there with my GF because she works on TV shows.

Money: If I can eat what I want, and travel when I want—then I have enough.

Steroids: That’s a Tim Sharkey Question.

Tanning salons: They are dying out…I hope.

Tattoos: I’m heavily inked. I like most of what I have. The only ones I don’t like are the ones I did on a budget. I’ve yet to get any Sak Yant tattoos, but it’s on my list. If I have any room left.

Superman: Least favorite. Totally unlikable character. He can literally do everything. Batman is just a dude who knows martial arts. Much more relatable.

Woody Allen: Loved Midnight in Paris. Wish he would do a horror movie.

KC: Which writers were/are your mentors? If you don’t like that word, tell me which writers you respect?

JV: Philip K Dick, William S. Burroughs, and Hunter S. Thompson were huge influences on my world view growing up. As a kid in Chicago, we didn’t have television—but our apartment was full of books. My mom is a beatnik writer so her book selection was top notch. Lately I’ve been reading Maldoror,  by Comte de Lautreamont, and a lot of esoteric gnostic stuff as research for my next book.

KC: What is the difference between writing for television and writing fiction for readers? 

JV: A lot of tv writing is just trying to keep people’s attention. Unless it’s Twin Peaks, not many people will stick around for the slow burn development of characters. If you write comedy–it’s a lot of one-liners and setups for jokes. For police type shows, it’s being edgy without being corny or cliched.

KC: What do you see in your crystal ball? 

JV: Souls will reincarnate inside artificial humans, clones, or even computers. We will shed this meat vessel and hopefully move beyond our biological programming. It’s all part of a transhumanist agenda. You’re an atheist, you say? Fear not. They’ll find a use for your soul too. There will always be room in the robot brothels on Soi 6.

KC: Damn. 

My book review of Dead Bangkok can be found here. 

You can buy Dead Bangkok on Amazon here for only $2.99.

To visit the Echo Park Boxing Gym web site click the logo:

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I’m getting ready for the celebration
I’m bringing my imagination
Taking charge of my elevation
No fear, no trepidation
Register my affirmation
No doubt, no hesitation
People get ready for the embarkation.

– Jackson Browne

MOM (MAGIC CIRCLES BOOK 1) by Collin Piprell.

A Book Review

All aboard for an embarkation to MOM, a mad comic Science Fiction mystery/thriller taking place in the year 2057 AD, written by Collin Piprell. Earth is a planet where few real biological persons are truly alive, never mind awake, and those that are must be confined to gigantic malls located on two hemispheres – Eastern Seaboard SE Asia Mall (ESSEA) and United Securistats of America (ESUSA) Mall. (Africa has disappeared; no one knows exactly why). Inhabitants are called mallsters. They live in a state of quarantine from a nanobot superorganism, a plaguebot that has devoured much of the world. More bad news: the malls are crumbling and people get dissed or disassembled if they venture outside. It’s Piprell’s complex and vivid imagination coupled with a failed doomsday scenario known as the “grey goo”, where out of control, voracious self replicating nanobots attempt to consume all biomass on earth while building more of themselves. Enter MOM.

MOM is an acronym for Mall Operations Manager. The mall refugees are as dependent on her as, well, children are to their mom – everything they see is because of a loving MOM, or is she? Trust is also in limited supply in Piprell’s world. MOM is Artificial Intelligence perfected or she should have been had there not been some devious bugs left behind for the benefit of the few remaining humans. (Think of Hal singing, as Dave gets revenge in 2001 – A Space Odyssey). MOM has taken over the job from the previous and last human MOM, Brian the Evil Canadian. The power isn’t relinquished without a techo-fight and that’s just one of many places the fun begins in this bleak and at other times artificially induced happy futuristic tale. If it sounds like too much to handle, and it can be for some, there is the handy “op out” feature, where one can volunteer for psychonuerotherapeutic reconstruction or PR, for short. In the Worlds there is a trade off for happiness but most mallsters are willing to make that trade. In that regard, perhaps there hasn’t been much change to the planet.

Cisco Smith is our 22 year old protagonist among a sea of important and colorful human and scientifically created characters at any given time. Cisco is as real as his generation can be; the Tiger Woods of 4D gaming as a teenager, he’s now a test pilot with an identity crisis for Worlds UnLtd, one of only two remaining test pilots on what remains of pitiful planet earth. His sexual orientation is egalitarian omnitech hetero (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and his dietary preferences lean heavily toward peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

Dee Zu is Cisco’s best friend and main lover; she is the other surviving test pilot of ESSEA. Their job is to test the virtual worlds for safety and compatibility for others to enter. The Worlds, for logistic and scientific reasons, extend only a short distance in arc like fashion in what becomes one of many possibilities of circular virtual realities. To quote a well known American writer, “Oh, the places you’ll go!” Ebees are included or electronic beings and they prove to be good company more often than not.

Leary, a 113 year old baby boomer whom readers of Piprell’s fiction will recall from his past work, is a mentor to Cisco and the last surviving human in the Eastern Seaboard. Thankfully for this reader, this is science fiction more in the mold of Kurt Vonnegut than Paolo Bacigalupi of The Windup Girl fame. Satire, witty philosophy, psychology, and anthropology rule, along with the all powerful but flawed MOM. Hi ho.

An example of Piprell’s narrative voice, which has a hint of Woody Allen neurosis:

It’s funny when you think about it. Basically, human beings were merely devices for turning food into fertilizer. Call it man’s nature. But now we don’t have any plants left to feed, so what use are we?

There is a Bangkok connection woven into MOM allowing Thailand expatriates and visitors to the kingdom to get some value added reading in with references to familiar landmarks during trips to Old Handland, located on Soi Awol. Ebees are plentiful in Old Handland and take on the roll of “you buy me cola?” bar girls as just one example of a tribute to a real Bangkok long gone. This is one of the many virtual reality worlds available to mallsters when it is not Monday, which tend to get some people down. The trouble is, it frequently is Monday and the frequency is increasing thanks to MOM who is in and out of control.

It’s “Cisco the Kid” and medibots to the rescue but that’s all I can say in this review. You have to admire the imaginative Piprell for creating a futuristic world by writing a lengthy novel with no children, no books, no plants, no real animals (there are robotic ones) and no writers. MOM is a big bang of a novel with many big ideas layered in along with enough optimism to make you believe a second renaissance period for mankind is possible. Old Asia hands, Sci Fi fans, and readers of quality fiction who enjoy complex and entertaining yarns should enjoy MOM. There’s a handy glossary in the back that you may want to commit to memory before you dive in.

The ending lends itself well for a series. It’s Collin Piprell’s imagination running away and I can’t wait to read where it and his worlds run to next. One wont have to wait long as Genesis 2.0 is due for an October 2017 release.

MOM

By Collin Piprell

Published by Common Deer Press, 2017

Available at Amazon.com, US$4.99 (Bt171), $14.99 paperback

Click here to go to Collin Piprell’s blog: Collin Piprell, In Reality

Click here to go to Paul Dorsey’s excellent and more expansive review of MOM at The Nation

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On April 14th, 2013 this blog was created. Gop the literature loving frog in the coconut shell was the anchor for the blog thought up by me but brilliantly brought to life by that reclusive author living in the south of Thailand (Click here to check out his hefty author page – buy a book or two if you are a Gop fan, you won’t regret it). That makes today Gop’s birthday to the world. He’s gotta be at least forty in frog years and still hasn’t quit smoking or stopped reading paper books. He’s old school and low tech. I like Gop’s philosophy on life although I might have a hard time pinning a name to it.

Four years is a long time. When you are younger it seems like an eternity. Freshman, sophomore, junior, senior year of high school. A lifetime in the rear-view mirror. Another four years and I was already a junior at university. I took my time to graduate. What was the rush to get into the real world? Another four years and I had already lived in Chico, San Francisco, Mountain View, and San Jose, California. Now four years clip by as Bruce Springsteen wrote in 1984 in Glory Days, “In the wink of a young girls eye.” Was it really written over thirty-three years ago?

By now I figure I have earned a B.A. in blogging. The thought occurs to me to fold up shop and move on to something else. But I have learned a few things about Gop in the past four years. He’s not a worrier. His coconut shell is not turned upside down. It faces the world. As a result Gop’s world is bigger than most. Of course it helps that he reads and we’ve never figured out, exactly, what his smoke blend consists of. As my wife often tells me, “We don’t have to know everything.”

Truth be told I am proud of this blog without being too proud. It matters to me what some people think of it and doesn’t matter to me what others may or may not think of it. But mostly it matters to me what I think of it. And I think it is worth preserving and worth continuing although probably on a more limited basis than in past years. I’ll strive for quality over quantity. Interesting people, literature, and music help make my world go around. I’ll keep trying to pay forward all the kindnesses that have been done for me. It’s a good expression, one might even call it a philosophy, paying it forward.

I’ll keep this short and simple. Tens of thousands of visitors have stopped by this blog in the past four years, either on purpose or because Google brought them here by mistake in their quest to find Thai girls wearing university uniforms. That’s more than enough for me. So I’ll keep doing here what I have been doing for the past four years, creating a blog that I would want to read. There are a lot of choices and a lot of distractions in today’s world. Thank-you to all the readers who stop by from time to time.

My “About Page” written on April 14th 2013, refers to a quote by a famous economist. It’s one of my favorite quotes: “In the long run we are all dead.” John Maynard Keynes

Choose your run wisely.

And Happy Thai New Year from Thailand Footprint

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Are you a fan of GG Allin? Are you more likely to read Mike Fook than John Burdett or Lawrence Osborne? Do you remember how Chris Rock understood O.J. and empathized with the Juice? Does your comedic sense of timing go more to Sam Kinison than Bill Cosby? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Dead Bangkok – A Novel of Thailand by J.D. Villines may be the apocalyptic Zombie flesh eating ghost thriller that you have been waiting for your entire life.

Click the book title to go to the Amazon page for Dead Bangkok

As Zombie thrillers go this is the best one I have ever read. I should qualify that I have never read John Russo’s Night of the Living Dead or The Walking Dead series by Robert Kirkman …. or any other walking dead book ever written for that matter. But, hey, everyone has to start somewhere, and there is no better place for a Thailand Zombie ghost thriller than the corroded razer sharp mind of J.D. Villines. His style is not so much like getting a smooth shave as it is watching a hemophiliac try and stop a nose bleed. Villines delivers his prose with the tat tat tat of a Craftsman nail gun bought outside your corner 7/11 store from a perfect stranger.

As our story unfolds an outbreak of brain parasites has turned the living into flesh eating cannibals. Our protagonist, Joel, is a manly man who longs for the days when there were no bills to pay and “A man’s worth would be measured by how well he could swing a machete.” He gets his wish and then some. There are Conan poses to be made and at least one war cry to whoop. Along the way he also gets to throw some grenades, expensive Molotov cocktails, and one well hardened turd of his own meditative making.

Nok is Joel’s Thai girlfriend who is along for the adventure and their relationship is a joy to read about as the expat from California tightropes that fine line between love and hate, talking his Tarzan Thai and making his Tarzan love. The reader can tell Joel does care about Nok, despite his homicidal tendencies. “I had wanted to kill many people in Los Angeles, for no other reason other than that they irritated me.” Of course who hasn’t had the following thought going on in Joel’s drug fueled synapses if you have ever been in a relationship of any length, “My mind was flooded with thoughts on how to kill her.” At one point Joel offers Nok some kind advice, “Honey, if something bad happens; kill yourself okay?”

Joel notices that the best defense against Zombiehood is to be in a perpetual state of drug and/or alcohol intoxication. This explains the pockets of life existing in Bangkok amidst the parasite carrying flesh eaters. It also supports why his new best friend, Vato, a drug dealer has survived although not exactly thrived. Joel is the sharpest crayon in this colorful box of Crayolas. Before the threesome head to Pattaya, (another pocket of the living hung over) they meet up with a lady boy named Esmerelda who has a Paris Hilton transplanted face. She becomes the equivalent of the black guy in a 1970s action movie. We know when the face starts to rot if anyone is going to die next it will probably be Paris Redux. She was fun while she lasted.

When Joel and Vato see a fat woman in big underwear Joel thinks her bra will make the perfect slingshot to be used for humanitarian efforts among the parasite afflicted who have unwisely practiced sobriety. It’s a scene I would love to see on the big screen some day, including the attempt at a double leg take down. It turns out, “Fat bitch is a pro wrestler.” And we haven’t even gotten to Pattaya yet.

The action really picks up once they reach the family town by the sea. Some of it I quite liked such as the frequent shadowy ghosts, some of it a bit too scatological and Japanese for me. Give me Linda Blair and some green projectile vomit; I’m a simple man.  Maybe this whole Zombie worm flesh eating genre is an acquired taste, like Vegemite. There’s a paranormal government study sub-plot involving a mind altering toupee that also adds to the fun. As another reviewer noted, we could have used more of the Joel / Nok banter, tension and confusion as the writing and humor consistently shined in that arena.

What I absolutely loved about Dead Bangkok – A Novel of Thailand , in addition to the ending, is the author uses his considerable imagination to the max and only sprinkles in his knowledge and understanding of Thailand when it adds to the story. As it did frequently with his Thai ghost references. This is a well written tale for fans of the genre. And even if you are not the brisk pace, macabre humor, and sheer transparency into the human mind will keep you turning the page. Go for it, one and all.

There is nothing worse for a reading experience than a book that cannot compete with what you did during a memorable summer vacation. That’s not the case here. Thanks to the first time author for the inside look at someone Rick James would have dug hanging out with. Dead Bangkok is a super freaky book; the kind you don’t take home to mother.

The author, J.D. Villines boxing the shadows in his mind as the owner and instructor at Echo Park Boxing Gym located in Echo Park, California

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Photographic evidence that Collin Piprell (center) dies his beard grey. During his Canadian mining days

KC: You’ve seen it all and done it all. On land, sea, and air. An elephant tracker, a miner, a scuba diver, and paraglider.

CP: Although I have followed elephant tracks, I’d hesitate to call myself an elephant tracker.

KC: Anyway, I’d rather hear about the dangers of being a traditionally published author in the 21st Century. You’ve got a new book out. Tell us about MOM. I hear it’s the first in a trilogy.

CP: Actually it’s no longer a trilogy – we’re now describing it as a series.
MOM kicks off around AD 2057. Feral self-replicating nanobots have very nearly brought about the extinction of the entire biosphere, including the human race, and the last two refuges – Eastern Seaboard USA Mall and Eastern Seaboard SE Asia Mall – are under siege.
Behind the story of how a few humans manage to survive the PlagueBot, we find another story: a war between the machine MOM and the human MOM she superseded, a 113-year-old who remains invisible to her in a hideout concealed in part by selectively blinding her with bugs he left in her operating system before she came to self-consciousness. So the machine MOM covertly recruits our heroes to help her home in on her human foe.
And behind that thread there’s yet another tale, one that unfolds more clearly in the second and third novels to come – i.e. the emergence of novel evolutionary developments of a significance comparable to the emergences of life, perception and motility, and the subsequent rises of intelligence, language use, culture, artificial intelligence and generated realities.
Ironically enough, the PlagueBot – the global superorganism that arose from the new grey-goo scenario – itself becomes one element of the basis for a human renaissance within a renewed, though radically different kind of biosphere.
That may sound way too stodgy. In fact MOM presents a lively, even funny, read that focuses on dramatic conflicts between our motley cast of characters. Or so I claim here. For one thing the book presents a story of elaborate revenge; here’s a teaser, something from Leary, one of the characters (see below):
“The Inuit, what we used to call Eskimos, they had a trick. An early kind of trojan. They’d bend a piece of sharpened whalebone over, wrap it in blubber, tie it up tight with something and freeze it. Then they’d take the string off the bait and leave this nice surprise lying around for a polar bear to find. The bear would see it, hardly believing its good luck, and wolf it right down. The blubber would thaw out way down there inside his gut and the whalebone would spring open. After a while the bear would bleed to death, or at least slow down enough the Inuit hunters could catch up and kill him some other way.”

KC: I don’t normally lose my appetite so early in an interview.  What’s the upside (if there is one) and the down side to the digital age we live in for writers in particular and the human race, such as it is?

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CP: The internet and 24/7 connectivity by way of our gadgetry can give us a godlike feeling that we’re parked at the hub of the universe with all that is right there at our fingertips. If you’re a working freelancer, for example, you can’t understand how anyone ever got along without it.
But our machines are fast learning how to do much of what has traditionally been reserved to humans. Already there are programs that churn out routine journalistic pieces and company reports and so on, a development that can leave us wordsmiths feeling less godlike.
Here’s something I blogged for fun a year or two ago, but I believe the real McCoy lies just around the corner: “Mickey’s Muse: Henry Ford for Writers.” I even had a couple of queries regarding where you could find the app. Before long that won’t seem so funny.
And there’s another downside to our enthusiasm for digital gadgets and the internet. We’re steadily outsourcing what we’ve always thought were essentially human capacities, and it’s quite likely we won’t recover some of them. Again, I’ve blogged on this issue, for example with “Outsource our minds? What a good idea!”
Of course there are also all the distractions. Many a professional writer has suggested, at least in so many words, that nobody can write a book on a computer that’s connected to the internet.

spring day darkening:
the locust digital swarm
eats my absent mind

KC: Do you have a routine? 

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CP: Wish I could say I did. I believe that straight out of bed to the writing in the morning is the best way to go. For sure go nowhere near the internet till you’ve spewed some hours of words. But given my basically undisciplined nature plus too many other commitments at any given time, I write when I can. Sometimes that’s straight out of bed, but not often enough.

KC: You once wrote a lot while you were at sea. Tell me about that experience. Were there distractions or was it pure bliss?

CP: I once worked some fragments up into a complete novel in draft during nine weeks on a derelict yacht between Israel and Thailand. I did it against all odds, against my own belief it wouldn’t be possible.
I really enjoyed the experience, but I wouldn’t describe it as bliss. I was doing odd jobs and standing watches all the while, and after a work crew in Cyprus stripped some cabins, mine for example, so they could patch a bunch of holes in the steel hull, I had nowhere to call my own to work or sleep. My nomadic approach to both sleeping and writing was complicated by the fact the rest of the pick-up crew were doing the same (aside from the writing, that is) and, by the time we hit the Red Sea, the temperatures were ranging to around 500 C and rather higher in the engine room. Nothing worked – not the air-con, not the fans, only the twin Gardner diesels, a pump or two and my laptop.
But yes, I find I work well on boats. The in-between times are ideal for gazing at the sea, which puts me in a fine semi-meditative frame of mind.

KC: Tell us about your body of work to date.

CP: DK Books published my first book, Bangkok Knights, way back when I was still teaching (mostly writing) at Thammasat University. A British doctor who used to live here in Bangkok recommended the ms. to Khun Suk, the owner of a chain of bookstores and a publishing house. Later DK also published Kicking Dogs, a novel. Both of those books were later picked up by bookSiam and then by Asia Books, who also encouraged me to write Yawn: A Thriller, which they eventually published as well.

Sometime around the time I came up with Kicking Dogs I left the university to make a go of it as a freelance magazine writer and editor. And during that period Post Publications brought out Bangkok Old Hand, a collection of mostly humorous pieces that had appeared in the Sunday Bangkok Post and various other local publications. I also did a book on coral reef natural history and conservation with the underwater photographer Ashley J. Boyd for White Lotus Press, as well as a collection of diving stories for Artesia Press and a diving guide to Thailand for Times Editions (now Marshall Cavendish, Singapore) and Hippocrene in the USA. I co-authored a book on Thailand’s national parks with Denis Gray and Mark Graham (IFPC, Bangkok); I did part of the introduction and all the marine national parks.
But most of my income was from magazine work.

KC: Where do the plots for your books come from?

CP: My stories generally emerge from hard dint of bashing my head against draft passages, dialogue, settings, whatever, till the structure and the point of it all finally appears. For me (and, I’d argue, for most writers) the writing activity is typically a conversation with the page, a process wherein the text evolves in the back-and-forth give-and-take of proposition and critique, experiment and revision. Or so I say.
To perform this trick successfully, I’d further claim, you have to wear two hats: that of the writer/editor and that of the reader/editor.

Two Hats Are Better Than One

You don one hat and then the other, role-playing on some level – switching back and forth and back and forth as the prose passage develops. The writer proposes a word, a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph. At each step, the writer swaps between the standpoint of the writer – proposing – and the reader or editor – critiquing. At each step of the way, the writer proposes a change and the editor – the same person, wearing a different hat – either accedes or doesn’t. And so on. In principle, this applies to virtually any written text. Even a shopping list, as we see in “Story: A conversation with the page.”

KC: To write one must read or so I have read. What have you read recently that impressed you and what disappointed you?

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CP: I think you do have to enjoy reading if you want to write successfully.
Like a lot of people these days, however, I find my attention becomes torn in too many directions – we suffer from a surfeit of choice. I read too much and too eclectically online; I have digital magazine subscriptions and digital books on three different devices; I’ve got paper books stacked on all sides, some of them unread, some half-read, some awaiting a re-reading. This isn’t the way to do things. It’s overwhelming. Sometimes my default position is to read nothing at all, only sit there and reflect on how much I think I have to read and how little time there is.
Recent fiction? Someone gave me a copy of Six Four, by Hideo Yokoyama, a best-selling mystery now in translation. I enjoyed it, but I suspect you have to be Japanese to properly appreciate its 650 pages; not being familiar with the subtleties of relative status in the social hierarchy and so on I tended to get impatient and skim some of it. I’ve read Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Tetralogy (Sara gave them to me.) Very good reads. And a bunch of other stuff.
I should say Thailand has a vibrant gang of English-language novelists. I’d like to mention some of them here, but I fear slighting all the others I haven’t had time to read. Maybe on another occasion.
The following – both reading for pleasure and theme reading for the Magic Circles series – are among the non-fiction books in progress: Stuart Kauffman, At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity (some years ago I read Kauffman’s Re-inventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion, and found it compelling, if sometimes difficult reading). In a similar vein, I’m reading Terrence W. Deacon, Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter. I’ve also recently read Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees and Hold Still, Sally Mann’s memoir with photos.

KC: Why do you write? 

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CP: As I said in my interview with the publishers, it was mostly to annoy my father, who wanted me to be an engineer. But it’s really because of all the groupies and stuff.

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KC: When did you first consider yourself a writer? Put another way, when did the whole groupie thing come together? 

CP: I remember clearly one particular morning, just after DK Books published Kicking Dogs – that was some time after they’d already brought out Bangkok Knights – and I was getting enough requests for articles and things that I’d quit the university job to freelance full time. I woke up in my old shophouse in Bangkok, mentally reviewed the day’s schedule and thought, “Holy cow. I’m a writer! I really am.” And what a great feeling that was. Until that moment this notion had always been a never-never kind of thing – nice to contemplate, but maybe only true in another life.

KC: Who were your mentors?

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CP: In part they were writers I enjoyed reading when I was younger. I’d always been a voracious reader, but by my teens I tended to favor novels such as The Lost Weekend, where the heroes were really anti-heroes, creatures of dubious character bound to come to grief. So I enthusiastically adopted that persona for many years before I ever wrote anything commercial.
When I was a kid, my father built me a bed with bookshelves for a headboard. Some of the titles I recall, favorites I read again and again, included Tom SawyerHuckleberry FinnPenrodA Child’s History of the WorldA Child’s Geography of the World, a couple of books by archaeologists, including Mortimer Wheeler’s Archaeology from the Earth, some fat hardback with B&W photos of Petra, a field guide to the denizens of pond water (my folks had bought me a microscope, a good one), and more. An account of some paleontologist’s expeditions in the Gobi Desert.
Many years later, when I was still in my twenties, I returned to my parent’s home to find that my middle brother had appropriated all my favorite fiction, and now called these books his favorites. A few of them come to mind: J.P. Donleavy’s The Ginger Man and The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B.; Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita; a couple of P.G. Wodehouse novels; stories by James Thurber; stories by Damon Runyon; and lots more, many of them world classics, though itemizing these would feel pretentious. Plus I was probably too young and parochial for them, and tended to speed through everything from Tolstoy to the back of the cornflakes box as little more than pleasant diversions.
Among readers I especially admire now, in no particular order, I’d name Flann O’Brien, Cormac McCarthy, David Foster Wallace, V.S. Naipaul, Neal Stephenson and Margaret Atwood. There are plenty of others, but those will have to do for now. How much have they influenced my own writing? I couldn’t say.

KC: What inspired you to write MOM? When did you first know you had a series on your hands?

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CP: Having read about the “grey goo scenario” – where almost overnight self-replicating nanobots turn the planetary surface into nothing but more of themselves – I found myself trying to imagine how anyone or anything could ever survive such a disaster. Plus I’d encountered intriguing notions related to nanotechnology, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, virtual realities, theories of complexity and novel emergencies. As though against my will – I’d never thought of writing a science-fiction novel – characters and settings began to emerge in my mind and I wrote some stuff.
Wisely enough, I then relegated this stuff to a bottom drawer and went back to other writing projects. One of these I showed to a good friend who hated it; he asked me whether I didn’t have anything else to show him. So I dug out some chapters of what was to become MOM, and he claimed that this was what I should be doing. I didn’t really believe him but, what with one thing and another, including his offer to let me use his lakeside cabin in the mountains of Japan for a solitary writer’s retreat from all the chaos of my life in Bangkok, I went back to MOM with a will. And here we are today.
I knew I had a series on my hands the moment I wrote MOM’s concluding chapters. They pretty well demanded I discover what happened next.

KC: Would you say MOM is character driven or setting driven? Tell me more about the motley cast you have created.

CP: I think MOM is character driven. But the settings – the generated realities and the PlagueBot-ravaged surface of the earth – are also important. Especially later in the series, when we could say the planet’s surface itself takes a role in developments. Here’s an outline cast of characters:
MOM is the mall operations manager, a machine intelligence recently come to self-awareness.
The PlagueBot is a global superorganism. It is emerging from a failed grey-goo scenario, where feral self-replicating nanobots consumed nearly all of the biosphere, including humankind and its works.
Cisco Smith is a 22-year-old Worlds UnLtd test pilot. His best friend is Dee Zu, the only other surviving test pilot in the Eastern Seaboard, United Securistats of America (ESUSA) Mall. Dee Zu is also his lover. His main lover.
Sky is his other lover. What to say about her? Sky is Sky. You’ll have to read the book.
Leary, a 113-year-old baby boomer, is the last surviving inhabitant of the Eastern Seaboard SE Asia (ESSEA) mall, and a father figure to Cisco. He’s also an old drinking buddy, from Bangkok days, of Brian Finister.
Brian was sometimes known in the old days as Brian the Evil Canadian. Before he was put out to pasture by his machine successor, he was the last human mall operations manager.
Ellie, yet another Boomer relic, was Leary’s wife and long the object of Brian’s unrequited lust. Before Brian drove her to suicide.
Sweetie, a demented former psychiatrist once involved in US military intelligence, is Brian’s longtime consort.
Sissie is Cisco’s troubled adolescent sister of whom there’s no record in MOM’s databanks.
Joy Sequoia Bean, Smoke, Rexy, Toot, Rabbit and Muggs are other members of the cast, more or less important at any given point to the story’s unfolding.

KC: What are the challenges that writing a science fiction novel poses that, say, a crime fiction novel doesn’t have?

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CP:  I can’t say. I’ve never really written a crime fiction novel. I suppose some would describe Kicking Dogs that way, but I think of it simply as a comic thriller where Jack Shackaway, the hero, is suffering a massive case of culture shock he systematically refuses to acknowledge even when his Thai girlfriend keeps telling him he’s a babe in the woods and any minute now he’s going to get himself killed.

Kicking Dogs

Maybe writing a science-fiction novel has this advantage over writing stories set in situations people are prone to calling “the real world”: nobody can say my settings lack verisimilitude. These worlds are of my own creation, and they are exactly what I say they are.
There. That was my moment where I was God. In fact, if they’re to work, these alternate worlds require just as much attention to detail as the “real world” settings do. And part of the appeal of the MOM species of science fiction is that readers need to consistently sense its very real relationship to the world we inhabit now.

ISBN-13: 978-0995072961
ISBN-10: 0995072965

Click the Book Cover to go to the Amazon USA web page – Amazon Pre-orders of MOM for April 5th delivery

KC: How has the experience of telling someone you are a writer changed from the 20th Century to the 21st Century, if it has? 

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CP: One change is that these days it has to seem less world-shaking to recognize yourself as a writer, given this syndrome seems to have become pandemic. (Let it be recorded that, at this juncture, the interviewee grinned.)

Collin Piprell, grinning. Sort of.

To learn more about Collin Piprell and his books go to his blog, Collin Piprell, in reality at www.collinpiprell.com

The Epub version of MOM is available now if you wish to support small publishing houses in an Amazon age, at Common Deer Press

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“We judge time by technology. We judge information by the date of the technology. Time is an exact messenger. I’ve decided to be a typewriter fundamentalist. I don’t change with the times. You don’t hear much about us, but of course you wouldn’t. We’re not online or in a chat room. But we know we are out there.”

“You won’t last. You’ll be back on the computer before the day is over.”

Crackdown, Chapter 25 by Christopher G. Moore

Recently I read two newspaper articles regarding technology that gave me pause. Of course they weren’t actually read on paper; they were read online. I don’t buy or read many actual newspapers nowadays. A sign of the technological times.

The articles are:

Why We Can’t Look Away From Our Screens written in the New York Times on March 6th, 2017 and

Subtle and Insidious – Technology is Designed to Addict Us written in the Washington Post on March 2nd, 2017

I recommend both.

The concluding lines in the New York Times article made me seek out the Crackdown passage above. It’s where Vinny ditches his smart phone and goes for Sam Spade office decor.

All good literature stays with us in one way or another and it can be triggered months or years later. It’s what separates the good novel from the forgettable ones. The New York Times suggests that, “There should be times of the day where it looks like the 1950s or where you are sitting in a room and you can’t tell what era you are in.”

The article also reminds us that finding time to be in natural environments is a good priority to have. For those of us lucky enough to be living in Thailand those times and places present themselves in various spots. One need only seek them out.

Anyway, that’s it. A short blog post. The New York Times and  The Washington Post offer up some good advice. As does Vincent Calvino.

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