Bridge Over The River Kwai

I bought this at World at the CornerWorld At The Corner. Because it takes place in Thailand, it seemed appropriate.

My in-laws took me to see the river. Which, incidentally, you have been pronouncing. If you end on a long i sound (like ‘my’), you are saying water buffalo. It should be end on a vowel sound more like that in ‘hey.’

The book itself is written in a strange style. Weirdly matter of fact, like Hemingway without any emotional adjectives. Or like a report which tries not to interrogate motives. Very different from our collective memories of Alec Guinness sabotaging William Holden’s sabotage.

‘The Four Loves’ By C.S. Lewis

I bought this because I had recently read a book about the Inklings and because Solid State Books has a wonderful selection near the bar (yes, they have a bar) on the philosophy shelves.

While I always bring my nook with me to Thailand, I always bring at least one paperback book. Something that is not too big and which stands rereading. Past international travel selections have included Wordsworth and Wuthering Heights (which I once read three times on a summer trip to Spain).

I had forgotten what an engaging writer Lewis can be (the last book I read of his was the turgid conclusion to his Space Trilogy). He reminds me of Thomas Merton and the G.K. Chesterton of Orthodoxy. Perhaps more like Chesterton’s conversational style, but even more so. I know that he honed a lot of his style via radio broadcasts and this has that feel of a fireside chat to a small group of curious acquaintances.

World At The Corner

As it turns out, World at the Corner is a barely two week old bookstore in Bangkok (thank you, May, for letting me know about it). You may know my love for bookstores if you follow me at all.

It is a small but lovely, mostly English language bookshop near the royal palace. They specialize in art books, literature in translation, and generally books that, as the owner’s brother (and a famous photographer), Nat, said, show you new horizons.

I bought, in honor of the country, Bridge Over the River Kwai. My daughter bought Cat Is Better. Note: she is not getting a cat.

But I saw a dozen books that I wanted to get, including several I had never seen anywhere else (and I visit a lot of bookstores).

Bangkok Wakes To Rain

I am inclined to want to like novels and about Thailand. And it is a good novel. It is a multi-generational novel that skips back and forth in time and is a perfect example of contemporary ‘world fiction.’

But… it reminded me of Lahiri and Ondaatje and both of those writers do it better (Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost rambled and lost its way before rushing when it realized it needed to wrap things up, but such language on the way!).

Except for the science fictional parts taking place in a climate changed future. Reminded me to recommend a great novel of climate change, Thailand, and colonialism: The Windup Girl.