Friday, January 06, 2006

Reading, Tense, and a Recommendation (or two)

I love to read. I guess I have my parents to thank for that. They started me early, and by the time I was eleven or twelve, I was always reading something. So one of the things I’d like to do here is discuss some of the books I’ve read. Mainly it’ll be ones that have really made an impression on me. If you have recommendations, please share them! I’m always looking for something new.

To start off…

…have you read Bangkok 8 or Bangkok Tattoo yet? Written by John Burdett, they follow Royal Thai Police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep. His mother is a former bar girl and his father - a man he has never met - was an American solider during the Vietnam War. While Sonchai lives the life of a Thai man, he can’t help but have a connection with the west. A mix of Buddhism, police corruption, clashing cultures and everyday life in Bangkok all blend together to create an intriguing world that completely pulled me in.

Both books are told from Sonchai’s point of view, as he become our tour guide in a world few non-Thais have ever experienced. I read between forty and fifty books last year. These were two of my favorites. I anxiously await another installment of Sonchai’s world

I love learning about new places and new things. I love to be entertainment and surprised. I love to try to work out a puzzle, a mystery. For me, anyway, Burdett’s Bangkok novels have completely satisfied me. If you like crime fiction and thrillers, and are not put off by unfamiliar cultures, I can’t recommend these books enough.

One thing I want to point out. I have a hard time with books that are written in present tense. Hmmm…hard time is probably too soft…they drive me crazy. Within the first page almost every single time, I will put the book down and NEVER pick it up again (except to move it into the donate pile.) Present tense pulls me out of the story, makes me aware of the writer. Writing should never get in the way of a story. When you are reading a good book, you shouldn’t even be aware that you are actually reading. Though the words are written on the page you’re holding in front of you, and they entire your mind through your eyes as black symbols on a field of white, it’s the story itself that should consume you and cause you to forget the process. With fiction written in present tense it feels like I am aware of the process the entire time. It’s a personal bias, I know. And I realize not everyone feels the same. Hell, maybe I’m alone in this thought.

But it does add a little weight to my thoughts about these two novels as both are written in present tense. And I was unaware of the process throughout.

Bangkok 8 is the first. Start with that. You won’t be disappointed.

No comments: