Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 325
"It had a smooth ride-cymbal beat with rimshots ticking on two and four, a laconic guitar double chanking on the first backbeat of each bar, and widely voiced horns playing a baritone-anchored riff like the last piece of a jigsaw, all fitted to a twelve-bar blues pattern." — from The Blue Moment by Richard Williams.
Of course it did. All of the above surfer dude. Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and the remaking of modern music. Totally anti-bogus music moments dude, or something. Ok, Dana here; and I have just no idea what this quote means. More evidence as if any person needed it that I am mentally limited. There are uber hip people but I am not one of them. I used to criticize my father because as he aged he had trouble distinguishing between the advertisements and the shows on the TV. Now I wonder if that is my future.
That is why Thailand and I work so well together. Sitting on the boardwalk watching two Thai guys cutting down coconuts: one cutting with a long pole and the other catching them in a kind of apron occupies pretty much all of my current brain. A life. Thailand and I. No fancy rimshots, no jazz criticism in socially limiting language, no behind the curtain word play for the music cognisetti, no twelve-bar anything, or laconic guitar double chanking (?). Just the ocean and the sky, the boardwalk plantings, the sun dappling through the palm trees, and two Thai guys trimming coconuts. And myself. Dana. Tourist. Enough.
But that is not really what I want to talk about today. What I really want to talk about today is an essay called:
OPINIONS CAN DIFFER
I just finished looking at and reading and rereading with depressed wonderment a book titled: Required Writing, Miscellaneous Pieces 1955-1982 by Philip Larkin. Apparently, Mr. Larkin was a big noise in English literary circles for decades. A publisher thought an end-of-career collection of Mr. Larkin's stuff would be a good idea.
This is the most boring book I have ever read. No wait a minute, let me amend that; in addition to many of Mr. Hemingway's novels, this is one of the most boring books I have ever read. But opinions can differ. Some book jacket quotes:
1. " . . . a considerable literary event." This caused me to question the definitions of the words considerable, and literary, and event.
2. "most outstanding contribution to English literature in a book published last year." This quote caused me to look up in the dictionary the definitions for the words outstanding, and literature.
3. " . . . required reading for anyone who cares about contemporary literature." I got up and mixed a drink. Gin and tonic, no tonic. On ice in a chilled whiskey tumbler. Who is charge of these book jacket quotes? Deranged people? Non-readers? Humans of no standards of any kind? The Germans did not need fake showers that emitted deadly gas to kill undesirables during WWII, they could have just lined up everybody and read this book out loud to them. Bodies would have fallen like fortune sticks at a Buddhist temple.
Anyway, in response to these quotes: really? Let me tell you what I think. I think this is one of the most boring books ever written. If I was a girl on the boardwalk in Pattaya and I saw this guy walking towards me I'd know one thing instinctively: whatever happens, it is not going to be fun. I can not even imagine how the conversations went when author and publisher sat together to discuss publishing his latest book. The only image I can easily see is the office cat expiring from boredom.
You know a writer who writes more skilfully and more entertainingly than Mr. Larkin? Me. Dana. I do. I write better than this turkey with both hands tied behind my back. Think I am bragging? You would not think I was bragging if you ever read this book Required Writing, Miscellaneous Pieces 1955-1982. And not just me but many other writers in the Thai-farang genre write more skilfully than Mr. Larkin: more interesting content, less turgid writing style, more humor, more connections with other humans, more exotic hooks, and more personal transparency. Except for some obviously low skill amateur efforts that read like one continuous run-on sentence, I think the standards of much of what we see on Thai-farang writing sites are pretty high, or at least competitively high. Clear declarative sentences, well put together paragraphs, interesting content, obvious point-of-view supported by personal reporting or anecdote, and impressions that are mostly happy and fun and emotionally stable. Adult writing by adults interested in displaying writing skill.
If I was a screening editor for a Thai-farang writing site Mr. Larkin would not get published. Boring. Really really boring. If you want a 'considerable literary event.' go to a Thai-farang literary site. If you are looking for 'outstanding contributions to English literature' go to a Thai-farang literary website. And as for 'require reading' I nominate Stickmanbangkok.com and Thailandstories.com. The unfortunate and charitable conclusion is that when Mr. Larkin was writing there must not have been much going on in contemporary English literature. Maybe England was still too busy trying to snap back from the war, although the years on the pieces (1955-1982) do not really support that charitable idea. I don't know. I guy like Larkin managed to snake through life and get prizes and attention for crap. I picture him carrying Hemingway's luggage on trips to Africa. Maybe Phil was Ernest's gun bearer or typewriter bearer. But I almost digress. Ok, a little more. Too bad a lion didn't kill both of these numbnuts and save the world from boringass writing.
So let's all be happy with what we are and who we are. We are a bunch of pretty clever observational guys and we more than occasionally produce some great writing. Thailand and history are lucky to have us as readers and recorders and entertainers. Oh, and you don't think I am that great a writer? Point taken but I would ask you to review Einstein's great work from the early 20th century. Everything is relative, and I am ten times a better writer than Philip Larkin. Honestly, sometimes I wonder why the bar set for literature is set so low. Who was this guy sleeping with at the publisher's convention? I can honestly state without fear of contradiction (or pictures) that I have not slept with any website webmasters to achieve publication. And I feel confident in saying that no other Thai-farang writers have had to make such a commitment either. Obviously, publication is the ultimate moneyshot in writers' lives but Thai-farang writers earn satisfaction through high standards. Don't believe me? Ok, read :Philip Larkin's book titled Required Writing; then go hunting on a Thai-farang site for writing that boring. Three cheers for us, we do a lot of great writing.
So if it wasn't you who was sleeping with webmasters to get their stuff published, who was it?