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Blog Archive October 2007

The Risk of Infidelity Index

My publishers Grove/Atlantic have come up with the jacket cover design for hardback edition of The Risk of Infidelity Index

The subtitle on the cover will be: A Vincent Calvino Crime Novel. The Risk of Infidelity Index is scheduled for release on 21st December 2007 and is now available at Amazon for pre-orders in case you wish to send a copy as a Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Year gift to a friend.

I’d appreciate any feedback on the cover: chris@cgmoore.com

Posted: 10/30/2007 11:38:54 PM 


Class Warfare and 2008

There is a gurgling sound coming from below. This is the sound of discontent being registered about the power and influence of the rich in America. The way things are shaping up, it is a good bet that wealth accumulation, tax ceilings, inheritance tax, health care as well as education are all taking aim at the society of super-rich. Wedged between the indictments that the rich have harmed America by the corruption of resources and marketplaces, Mark Blim writes in his article titled Below the Fold: A World without the Rich:

“Second, the rich corrupt the major institutions of American society. It bears repeating that the rich don’t get rich or stay rich simply by making better widgets and saving the profits from their corporate endeavors. They make legislatures dysfunctional, regulatory authorities their watchdogs, and professions their poodles. They corrupt presidents. They even corrupt each other, as corporate heads are bribed with board positions and in turn protect the interests of the company that bribed them.”

Posted: 10/30/2007 12:24:37 AM 


The First Fiction Lesson

The first lesson in fictional story devices is discovered when a student opens her first history textbook. Only they aren’t told the history inside is fiction. Students are taught this is what happened. Accept it. Memorize it. Take it to heart. What other events happened, or didn’t happen, the motives of rulers and generals, alliances, and failed alliances, and shifting power structures aren’t usually part of the package.

Thai children’s learn about sacking of Ayutthaya in 1767 as if that is the only event worthy of mention, ensuring that children associate Burma as an brutal aggressor with Thailand as a victim. Laotian school history books paint Thais as villains. And so it goes.

To untangle the web of power, influence and brute force is a challenge for any historian. The historical record is often incomplete and biased. The more distant the events, the more likely the conclusions are the product of myth, wishful thinking, and self-serving political forces.

Thailand isn’t the only offender in the manufacture of history to suit its own self-interest. Japan still can’t come to grips with World War II, the Chinese history on Tibet has the earmarks of heavy-handed editing, the Americans are silent on the extermination of native Indian tribes, and these few examples don’t begin to describe the often distorted and unreliable narratives that children are taught in their local schools.

The first lies children learn are from the school history books. Once the first lies are accepted as gospel the ability to play on preconceived ideas becomes easy. The students who are now adults have grown fat and stupid on a steady diet of falsehoods. They are softened up for a lifetime of official and commercial story telling that blurs reality and illusion and that suits perfectly the interest of those seeking power and profit. Challenge the conventional historical received wisdom is dangerous. People find comfort in the official spin; they become uneasy when they learn the truth is vastly more complicated and what is extracted must be qualified.

The hometown team may also be implicated by uncomfortable historical events. Silence is another enemy of truth. Those who break that silence are rarely thanked; more likely they are hounded, persecuted and marginalized. There has always been a lot at stake when it comes to writing history. That why who writes the history school books and what the choose to write about and what they choose to ignore has huge implications for social and political development.

Posted: 10/29/2007 3:59:07 AM 


John Burdett Profile

The IHT ran a profile on John Burdett: John Burdett: Detective writer at work in a seedy Bangkok district

Burdett is the author of best selling Bangkok 8, Bangkok Tattoo, and Bangkok Haunts.

Burdett says that the 4th novel in the series will be the last.

On the scope of his research behind his books, the IHT says:

“Burdett, a 56-year-old former lawyer, has spent the past seven years chatting up hundreds of bar girls - research! - as inspiration for his critically acclaimed trilogy, soon to be quartet, of gripping detective thrillers set in Bangkok's netherworld.”

“As part of his research, he has traveled to the stilt houses in northeast Thailand, a Lao-speaking region known as Isaan and the home turf of most of Bangkok's bar girls.”

On the insight Burdett’s books provide into Thai culture, the IHT says:

“Yet Burdett's writing is also keenly anthropological, decorated with wry observations that carry a ring of truth to those who live in Thailand.”

Burdett divides his time between Bangkok and France.

Posted: 10/25/2007 3:28:30 AM 


Helping out Some Kids in Need

Every month someone will write or phone and ask for information about a worthy cause that could use money for something other than SUVs, cell phone, expensive dinners, etc. Like most people, I want to see money go to the people who need it as opposed to the people who administer it.

I received the call for help below from Volunteers of Children Development Foundations. They had a fire. 40 kids from the streets are taken care of by this NGO. Now a number of these kids have no place to live, and what meager possession they had went up in smoke.

If you are inclined to send along some funds, you can be sure it will be put to rebuilding the basic housing, buying clothes, mattresses, and blankets.

Call for help

In the Thai town of Chiang Saen, close to the Laotian and Burmese borders, the Volunteers for Children Development Foundation (VCDF) provides shelter and care for more than 40 children - some from Thailand and some from Myanmar - that have been rescued from the streets and their dangers: drugs, violence, prostitution etc. Thanks to the continuous efforts of Mrs. Nuchanad Boonkong, also known as Kru Nam, these children, boys and girls, can rebuild their lives, go to school and look more serenely toward the future. Some suffer from serious psychological traumas, some also from mental problems ; thanks to Kru Nam and other volunteers, the foundation is a place were they can live and laugh together, practise dance, games and other activities, in a word live the life every child deserves.

On October 16, 3 days ago, an electrical problem took place in one of the four bamboo huts where the boys are currently living in the countryside near the city. A fire started, and it was only a question of minutes before the hut was burnt to the ground. Unfortunately, it contained lots of things for the children. Not only the fridge, the gas stove, the washing machine, the rice cooker, the sewing machine, the lawn mowers, some musical instruments and other equipments have disappeared, but also the food and most importantly, the children’s clothes, shoes, mattresses and blankets. With the winter season approaching, this is a serious problem, since the cold can be bitter at night in the northern provinces of Thailand.

Kru Nam and her co-helpers therefore face a difficult situation, and are looking for help too face immediate needs – new clothes, mattresses and blankets. Would you like to do something, especially donate some money to buy new clothes and basic furniture for the boys’ centre; your help will of course be greatly appreciated.

Please contact: ubonwan@gmail.com

Posted: 10/24/2007 3:00:14 AM 


It starts with a pair of eye glasses.

But where will it end?

Japanese detective story author Edogawa Rampo was known, for among other things, his signature glasses. He died in 1965. Yohei Kusanagi, a young Tokyo designer has come up with a replica of Rampo’s glasses as a way to encourage young people to read. One hundred copies of the replica are offered for sale. The price: Yen 84,000 or roughly US$735.

That would buy a lot of books. It makes me wonder if young Japanese potential readers have that kind of cash for a replica of Rampo’s glasses.

According to the Daily Yomiuri online + Associated Press, “His glasses, the bottom of which are rimless, have bifocal lenses and a rounded tortoiseshell frame. The writer's signature is printed on one of the bows.”

How about a replica of Somerset Maugham’s cocktail glass from the Raffles Bar? Or his walking stick? A replica of one of the ship’s Joseph Conrad in a bottle is a thought. In my case, many years hence, perhaps there might be a replica of my old, tattered and long expired press card that looks like a Martian passport.

A tip of the cap to Sarah Weinman at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind for the article.

Posted: 10/24/2007 2:58:22 AM 


Death of a Friend: Max Voigt (1941 – 2007)

Sunday night I lost a long time friend. He died of a heart attack. I just saw Max last Thursday at lunchtime. He’d lost a lot of weight and said he wasn’t feeling well. I said, “Max, take care of yourself.” And Max smiled, shook his head and pushed out the door. He was one of those people with a morbid fear of doctors and hospitals. Friends offered to take him for a check up. Max just refused to go past the hospital door.

It is likely you never heard of Max Voigt. Max was an American lawyer who had lived in Asia for more than half of his life. When I first came to Bangkok in the late 1980s, Max was head of Corporate Department of a leading law firm in the City. By chance I saw walking on my soi and struck up a conversation. A couple of days later, Max sent me my first freelance case. One case led to another until I had a steady stream of work for the first crucial years I lived in Thailand. Without Max’s friendship, the work wouldn’t have come my way, and without the work, I never would have had the time or opportunity to write novels. I owed Max Voigt a great deal.

Behind the ordinary man mask Max was an incredible character. I dedicated A Bewitching Smileto Max and two other friends. In A Haunting Smile, there is an American lawyer named Ross. A lot of Max found its way into the Ross character. Ross, like Max, was a Bangkok based lawyer.

This excerpt is from A Haunting Smile:

“Ross’s technique was to soften up a client who was racked with regrets, lapses of courage, doubts about his competence. He found it was successful to start with a minor lesson about bitterness and courage. *** Ross was the kind of person who befriended only people who refused to succumb to his sewer-death fear. Some people like people surrounding them who shared their fears, who reconfirmed that insanity and misery caused by hidden secret traps set in everyday life, someone to whom they could rage and cry out against the unfairness of so much personal danger and risk. Not Ross. He wanted people who climbed into the belly of the beast without blinking an eye as if to say, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Max will be greatly missed.

Posted: 10/22/2007 4:50:37 AM 



I finished going through editorial changes to the 5th novel in the Vincent Calvino series: The Big Weird. BookSiam originally published The Big Weird in 1996. It was reprinted by Heaven Lake Press in 200. And sadly it had gone out of print. Before Christmas, though, it will be back in print as in mass paperback edition.

Rereading and editing a novel that I wrote a dozen years ago is not unlike opening a high school yearbook and looking at a picture of yourself from the distant past. I’ve written another 10 novels since The Big Weird first appeared. I have spent a lot more years with Vinny Calvino and Colonel Pratt so that when I go to an earlier book, the temptation is strong to do a major overall. You just know so much more. Like all Monday morning quarterbacks, you can see the plays that could have been made and were botched. Much the same happens to a writer going back over a book from 12 years earlier.

I’ve had a very good editor go through The Big Weird and tighten up the prose. Fixing some narrative, rewriting dialogue and otherwise remodeling the original house. That’s a good way to sum up what I’ve had to do. You have a great old house but it needs renovation. So the rehab job is done. For better or worse.

There is a new cover in the works. The cover above is from the Heaven Lake Press 2000 edition. Once the cover is set, I’ll post a copy on the blog.

Look for the new and improved edition of The Big Weird in late November. It will be on sale in bookstores throughout Thailand.

Posted: 10/12/2007 6:38:04 AM 



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