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A passionate, affectionate record of adventures and misadventures in the world's hottest metropolis.
Born in England, Lawrence Osborne is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Forgiven, The Ballad of a Small Player and Hunters in the Dark. His non-fiction ranges from memoir through travelogue to essays, including Bangkok Days, Paris Dreambook and The Wet and the Dry. His short story 'Volcano' was selected for Best American Short Stories 2012, and he has written for the New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, the New Yorker, Forbes, Harper's and other publications. He lives in Bangkok. www.lawrenceosborne.net
This book should rightly have been called "Bangkok Nights," for Osborne (The Naked Tourist) provides a raunchy account of the nightlife and bars and bargirls of Thailand's capital. In particular, he delves into the lives of a motley band of aging, libertine Westerners (Farangs) living in his apartment complex and explores the city in their company. Their tragicomic lives are compelling, and Osborne provides some extraordinary anecdotes. For instance, when an illness takes the author to the Bumrungad Hospital, he finds that it is more like a five-star hotel than a hospital. Despite being confined, the author and a companion manage a visit to a girly bar with two IV drips in tow. What lifts this book beyond mere sleaziness is Osborne's prose. He uses language with great skill, and the sounds and smells of Bangkok are wonderfully evoked. Osborne's writing conveys a genuine love for the city and an appreciation of its ethos of easygoing tolerance. Recommended.-Ravi Shenoy, Naperville P.L., IL Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Bangkok is the sponge that absorbs "those who have lapsed into dilettantism," writes Osborne (The Accidental Connoisseur) in recounting his time in the fabled city of recreational sex and Buddhism. As he encounters characters questing for sensation and knowledge, he muses on how easy it is for Westerners to remake themselves in the East-much as the 19th-century English schoolteacher Anna Leonowens did when she tutored the royal children of Siam and fashioned herself into a mythologized literary figure. As he discovers in an encounter with a Catholic missionary, it is the ideal place to lose the burdensome grip of the "self." In Osborne's narrative, Bangkok serves as an existential crossroads for a cast of British, Australian and Spanish expatriates who are haphazardly searching for and running away from responsibilities; in the labyrinthine city, these tourists have established a playground for adult pleasure. As their documentarian, Osborne is at once incisive and romantic. He creates a character-driven travelogue that reveals but does not exploit the salacious subtext of Bangkok nightlife. It is a journey flush with atmosphere but tempered with a subtext of lonely Western wonder. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
"Thailand inspires such enthralled romanticism that it also invites great cynicism and it is a feat to acknowledge all its complexities and graces, as Osborne does, without ever quite surrendering to them" -- Pico Iyer * Los Angeles Times * "He is a first-rate observer and analyst... Any Westerner curious to take a decadent Oriental trip with a writer you can trust to keep you turning the pages should pick up a copy" * New York Times * "He vividly sketches the characters he meets: a man with a degree in air-conditioning, one with an air of "upper-class twittery"... Osborne's travelogue is, however, memorably touching" -- Anita Sethi * Independent on Sunday * "With a brief stint as a gigolo, insights into the Buddhist interpretation of transgender 'kathoeys', and several friendships with various wayward desolates, Osborne maintains a lively note to proceedings throughout... this book has an underlying sense of warmth and genuine fondness for its subject matter" * Real Travel Magazine * "He uses language with great skill, and the sounds and smells of Bangkok are wonderfully evoked. Osborne's writing conveys a geniune love for the city" * Library Journal *