One of the features of living in
Asia is how people share public space. Behavior in private spaces (homes and
offices) is never a reliable indicator on how people react in the presence of
strangers in a public place.
In Thailand it is rare for a
motorist to stop at a Zebra crosswalk to allow a pedestrian to cross. Drivers
cut in front of each other, drive through red lights, block intersections, drive
on the wrong side of the road, etc. In Vietnam, by comparison, the mix of
vehicles requires more tolerance on the part of motorists. Hundreds of bicycles
and samlors share the limited public space with cars, vans, taxis, and trucks.
As in Thailand, if you are on foot, then you must wait your chance to slip
through a narrow gap as the traffic comes to a halt.
Anywhere in Asia, the wet market is
the place to find what remains of traditional ways of shopping for food. Hanoi
is no exception and the wet market was one of the first places I set out to
find. No matter how low the prices are in mega supermarkets in places like Tesco
or Costco, something has been lost in the shopping experience that comes with a
market where the stalls are staffed with local vendors selling fresh produce,
meat, chickens and fish.
I spent five days on the Big Island
attending the Left Coast Crime 2009 convention. About 300 plus people attended.
Writers included those who write cozy mysteries to thrillers. We stayed at a
resort outside of Kona one of those complexes that could have been anywhere.
That didnt matter much as the point of the trip wasnt sight seeing. Though my
two friends Terry and Tito did their best to show me around the Island. Terry
has a coffee farm and I spent sometime at the farm with Terry and his wife Susan
and son Sonny. On the way back to the conference, Terry pulled over to the side
of the road and picked enough fruit to last me the five days of the
In late February I was in Hanoi and
Dien Bien Phu. My friend, Canadian literary critic, publisher and author, George
Fetherling suggested the adventure. George is finishing a book on the French
colonial period in Indochina. Dien Bien Phu was where it came apart with a
massive defeat at the hands of the Vietminh in 1954. We walked the hills where
the French had set up trenches and fortifications. They were heavily out gunned
and out manned. The surrender after about 3 months of battle remains a
historical watershed in Southeast Asian history. I recorded the trip with a
series of videos.
I had mentioned to George that in
1990 when I made my first trip to Saigon, it was as if the war had ended a
couple of weeks before. Dark, grim, and improvised. There were beggars and
homeless people everywhere. No one had any money. It was a nightmarish, noir
place. The absence of streetlights made nighttime navigation on the streets a
challenge. I saw very few private cars in 1990. But there were UN and NGO
vehicles. The Vietnamese were extremely resourceful, crafting vehicles out of
spare parts and scrap metal. These Mad Max vehicles belched bluish gray smoke
and, of course, had no lights. I spotted a variation of such a vehicle outside
the market in Hanoi. Only the vehicle in the video clip is too well made to
properly belong in the garage along side of to the old Saigon road warriors but
it does give an idea of the kind of transportation that one found on the roads
in 1990.... Read More>>
I arrive in
Honolulu on Thursday afternoon. I hope to see friends at the Sala Thai
restaurant Thursday evening from about 6.30 p.m. onward. If you have books you'd
like me to sign, please bring them along. I will also a few copies of Paying
Back Jack, Spirit House and The Risk of Infidelity Index.
I am looking forward to the evening. With Thai food and beer, what
better way to start the weekend a day early.
Breeze and Pou
Sala Thai is located at: 1333 Nu'uanu Avenue Honolulu, HI
96817 (808) 529-0308
Lets start with what many people
believe is the definition of creativity: someone who has a vivid imagination. No
one can say that is entirely wrong when checking the list of creative workers
above. But there are a few problems with the definition. While imagination is
useful and indeed necessary, it is not sufficient to define creativity. What is
missing? I have few ideas to share about the basic
Everything we read informs us that
the publics attention span has dropped like an anchor in shallow waters and the
window for judging success has been squeezed down to microdot size.
Movies are judged by their opening
In the New York Times, Jeff Huber Googles senior vice president
of engineering (adopting the Nurse
Rached philosophy) sets out how he wields the executioners sword
brining it quickly brought down on projects that dont quickly show financial
Sunday 22nd February I will have breakfast with Timothy Hallinan and
Steve Martini in Bangkok. Tim writes an exciting series staring a
journalists/private investigator set in Bangkok. Tims latest novel The Fourth Watcher has received many rave reviews, and he has a third novel
coming out this year.
Steve Martinis latest novel is Shadow of Power. This is Steves ninth Paul Madriani legal thriller. A number
of his novels have been on the New York Times bestsellers list.
A stroll along Soi Cowboy can lead
to the unexpected. Even elephants get into the act, begging for food. The
tourists buy plastic bags of fresh sugar cane and are rewarded (sometimes) with
the equivalent of an elephant wai.
One of the main obstacles for
readers buying books from Thailand is the cost. In the past my publisher has
shipped all books by air courier. That costs an arm and a leg and part of a
shoulder. The decision was made to ship by registered post. The delivery time is
around two weeks, but the cost reduction is substantial.
The Grove Press trade paperback edition of The Risk of Infidelity Index came out a few weeks ago. You can still marked down copies of
the hardback editions on Barnes & Noble. The heavily discounted copies ($4.98) of
Risk were ranked 833 on Barnes & Nobel website on 3rd
February. One of the good things to happen to a book that has been released in
paperback is there is a second chance for reviews in the few remaining review
columns in major American newspapers.
A number of readers have written
and called complaining about not finding copies of my novels in Bangkok.
For every problem there is a
My publisher Heaven Lake Press has
announced that it will invite readers to purchase books directly from its
office. You can come to the office between 10.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. Monday thru
Friday. Customers receive a 10% discount. And a 20% discount for a purchase of
five or more books. Sorry there is no credit card facility. So youll need to
pay for the books in cash.
Bernard Trink reviewed Paying
Back Jack in The Bangkok Post Friday 23 January 2009, concluding, Moore has
the intellectual and emotional ability to perceive what is in the hearts and
minds of the Thai populace. Not least, he grasps the nuances of language. . . .I
dare say a screen adaptation of at least one of the Calvino books isnt far
Indeed a film is in the
works for the Calvino series.
Buyers choice: Kinokunya. This is a famous international English
language Japanese own book chain. These people know books. They have a great
selection in literature and crime fiction. No question it is the best in
So if you are book hunting in
Bangkok, the best place to find a book is at Kinokunya. They have two branches:
Emporium and Siam Paragon. Both branches do a good job of maintaining an
inventory of new and back titles.
If you are curious about the
series or the last two novels in the Calvino series, the videos will hopefully
be informative. The videos were shot on location in Bangkok. In late December I
stayed at the Noel Coward Suite, one of the author suites in the Oriental Hotel,
and the videos were filmed at the hotel suite. ... Read More>>
Cameron Hughes has collected the
thoughts of crime writers about the meaning of Donald Westlakes death in the
world of crime fiction. Kevin Burton Smith, Joseph Finder, Ken Bruen, Laura
Lipppman, Colin Cotterill, Ali Karim, and Harlen Coben are some of the writers
and critics who contributed. The Rap Sheet carries the tributes.
Also, I contributed my thoughts
about Westlake writing as Richard Stark.
The character of professional criminal
Parker was a shot fired by a precision marksman. It still echoes in the ear of
many contemporary crime writers. Writing as Richard Stark, Westlake, novel by
novel, showed us the rational, calculating, unsentimental Parker, the career
criminal, the clear-eyed professional, anticipating the plays of other
characters in the novels like a chess grand master. Parker planned his jobs like
Special Forces operations, working with other freelance criminals to carry out
an operation. In Parker, Westlake created a character who had survived because
he understood the weakness of those around him and how ... [they] were held
hostage by a combination of greed, arrogance, and fear. The emotional distance
between Parker and others was as large as the vacuum of deep space. Even after
plastic surgery, the world always hunted him, found him, and tried to destroy