• Christopher G. Moore

The Kettle Calling the Pot Black

John Burdett, author of Bangkok 8 and Bangkok Tattoo , has reviewed The Third Brother by Nick McDonell (Grove) for the Washington Post. Burdett has this to say about The Third Brother:

“Sadly, for his second novel, The Third Brother, he has flown to Bangkok, a city he does not know or understand, and made it the centerpiece of his narrative for the first 158 pages. So we find ourselves in an incomprehensible landscape without a backup plan as various moronic, dope-driven backpackers come and go without explanation; a woman blows darts from her vagina; marijuana and yaa baa (methamphetamine) are everywhere…”

Burdett told a CNN interviewer that: "I never stop reading, watching and listening," he said. "I am learning Thai as quickly as I can and even attempting the alphabet which consists of 73 letters, not including the accents."

This statement is amusing as in the Thai language there are 44 consonants and 32 vowels, and five tones. Most novelists writing in or about Thailand have had such lapses. Even on a good day, I have made such mistakes. That is understandable as living in Thailand as foreigners much of what happens is beyond our ability to fully understand or comprehend. Personally I was amused by the first 50 pages of Bangkok 8 as the eccentric views of geography, culture (and sub-culture), social norms, and language introduced a Thailand that around the edges I tried to recognize.

A large dose of humility is not a bad thing when judging the novels of other writers who attempt to get straight the world within worlds of Bangkok and Thailand.

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