Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 276
Attn: Stickmanbangkokites, Dana fans, and all the teeruks at sea–
Come with us now as we meander up and down the highways and the biways of the hyperbole essayist's thoughts. To wit: there is always time to throw stones and I guess I make an easy target. I get accused sometimes of writing with too much hyperbole (exaggeration)–as if this is a bad thing that should be pointed out and levied against me. Most readers do not really know what this thing called hyperbole means but the accusation sounds like a fun thing–so yeah, that Dana kat writes with too much hyperbole and that is a bad thing.
Really? Here is a quote from John D. MacDonald's novel One Monday We Killed Them All:
"Step by step, Dwight McAran built a wall of vicious hate around himself.
It was easy. He was a man who could slap one woman to death because she loved him, and hum a love song to another while he raped her.
Sure, he did some time in jail. He sat in a cell and simmered for five long years until his hate hardened to a core of white hot evil, a core of stark, steaming evil designed to explode in a fury of vengeance.
Revenge was all he craved–and a plan was what he had–a plan just cruel enough to please him, just crazy enough to work."
Ever read anything of mine that makes language sales this way? I don't think so. Ok, maybe and maybe not. One reader's hyperbole is another reader's reality. You know what is interesting, nobody ever accused Mr. MacDonald of hyperbole: the only sound you heard was the ka-ching of the cash registers as thousands of people bought his books. His writing, and his word choices, and his images, and his titles and front covers, and his books were fun. Maybe hyperbole means fun. Maybe hyperbole is a good thing.
Here are some John D. MacDonald titles:
All The Condemned
The Beach Girls
A Bullet For Cinderella
Border Town Girl
Cry Hard, Cry Fast
Murder For The Bride
The Price of Murder
The Girl In The Plain Brown Wrapper
Hyperbole? Maybe–maybe not. How do you feel about a book titled: The Holy Bible? How do you think you would feel if you were an atheist? Anyway, have you seen titles of mine that looked like this? Are you sure now what hyperbole means? These titles and the above quote are exciting and interesting and fun. How can this be a bad thing? How can this kind of writing become an accusation? Do readers really think they would be more satisfied if all text read like a washing machine repair manual? Think you know a lot about Thailand do you? Ok, then you must know about 20th century Thai literature. Of course you do. Can you think of any Thai titles or writing this exciting, and interesting, and fun? Me either. Maybe at Chulalongkorn University they should teach hyperbolic writing in the creative writing classes. Maybe we could all be smiling more. I've read this book, One Monday We Killed Them All, by John D. MacDonald. It's a crime novel involving bad people doing bad things. Hyperbole? I'm not so sure. But if this is hyperbole I'm votin' for it. A fun book.
Consider this drama:
Me to Pulitzer Prize Committee for Literature: Ya know what this book The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway needs?
Pulitzer Prize Committee: What?
Me: Hyperbole and lots of it.
Pulitzer Prize Committee: Really?
Me: Yes. This book should get a special Pulitzer Prize for Literature: Most Boring Book Ever Written. I happen to know that right now while we are considering whether to award this year's prize for literature to this novella that in Russian surgeries outside of Minsk they are using it as a substitute for anaesthesia. After the anaesthesiologist reads a couple of pages of this snoozer out loud the patient lapses into a coma.
Pulitzer Prize Committee: Really?
Me: Yup, and it is not as simple as it sounds. Russian anaesthesiologists require special training.
Pulitzer Prize Committee: Special training?
Me: Yes, if they read from Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea for too long it can actually kill the patient. The patients flat line from boredom. The brain loses the will to live.
Pulitzer Prize Committee: I guess great literature in the wrongs hands can kill.
Me: Tell me something I don't know. The Old Man and the Sea. Snoozerville. How about The Perverted Old Man and the Lady Lust Tranny Sea? Now that would be a book deserving of consideration.
Pulitzer Prize Committee: Thank-you for your input.
Me: I'm just sayin' is all. By a show of hands here who could get more than ten pages into this thing? Exactly. But with a little skillful use of hyperbole as a followup to a title like: The Perverted Old Man and the Lady Lust Tranny Sea, readers would be skippin' ahead to get to the good parts.
Pulitzer Prize Committee: Fascinating . . .
Me: I ask you–have you ever one time heard any reader skipping ahead to get to the good parts in The Old Man and the Sea? Hyperbole, international ladies and gentlemen–a writer's gift to the reader.
Ever gone to a Thai museum? Not always, but sometimes, they are hot hot hot and dry dry dry. No airconditioning, no ventilation, no fans, too many electric lights. Like I said–hot hot hot hot and dry dry dry dry. So, what's my point? My point is that how I feel in these museums is how I feel usually when reading Thai and often Thai-farang literature. Hot and dry. Slow, dead, boring. Maybe what I am accused of, hyperbole; is exactly what we all need once in a while to have a little more fun. How about these titles of some of my stories:
Fa's On The Loose
Tranny Sheep–The Final Frontier
Scuttlin' Like A Crab
Transvestite And Midget
Stormtroopers Of Love
Fifty Baht Trannies
Powder Never Lies
Flip Flops And Flak Jackets
Bags Of Blood
Dana Tranny Auctions International
Spawn Of The Devil
Cut Off The Braids
Bad Bad Bangkok Girl
Katoey Dick Seeker
I Have Aids
Kryptonite In White
Hyperbole? Well, maybe yes and maybe no; but I wouldn't take offence if the accusation was leveled at me. So the next time you feel like throwing the hyperbole stone at someone maybe you should regroup and rethink. How about:
"Hey, I wish this Thai guy or this farang guy wrote with more hyperbole" — I'm smiling and I like it. You can never have too much fun."
How fabulous can titles be and not be hyperbole? How legitimately can we be tested as readers? In 1890 Kate Marsden traveled to Yakutsk (remember, it is 1890) in northeast Siberia to give help to a colony of lepers. Her title?
ON SLEDGE AND HORSEBACK TO OUTCAST SIBERIAN LEPERS
If that title does not make you pull the book off the bookshelf then you are dead. But what else would the title be? She would, no doubt, deny any attempt to market the book in 1892 via hyperbolic title. At most it is headline journalism. Still, you've just got to love the title and the idea of using words to get attention and sell ideas. So sometimes when people throw the hyperbole rocks at me I don't even try to dodge them. I guess it depends on my mood. Accusing me of hyperbole are you? Ok, tell something; when is the last time you had fun and gave pleasure just by using words? Think it is easy because other people do it? Try it.
The title of mine Bags of Blood is about bags of blood. Hyperbole or description? Transvestite and Midget is about something I saw and reflected on. Mongerism is an essay about — that's right, you guessed it. Mukluk Freelancers is a speculation piece on the future of Pattaya. Are we not allowed to speculate? Katoey Dick Seeker describes a tool. I sometimes wonder if the people who throw the hyperbole stones are people whose lives and minds are so dull they can not imagine anything other than involuntary muscular reactions. Slugs you find under rocks. I once had a workmate in the Accounting office (yes really) of a company I worked at say:
"Dana, why are you always talking about Thailand?" I replied:
"Well, that way at least one of us is saying something interesting."
I was fired the next day but I stand on my point. One person's hyperbole is another person's reality. Hyperbole? Maybe it is time to redo the math. How many times are you going to get to live?
Say it loud
And say it proud.
Please God lift me up
Out of this crowd.
Fish slap me with a title,
Hyperbolize my loins.
Show me the big bills,
Forget the coins.
Take me to bed,
Help me to see,
The wonder in my arms
Who would ever dare accuse our Dana of being prone to hyperbole?!