Under an improbable title, an even more improbable book: a collection of six short stories by local writers, one side in Thai, the reverse side in … Thaiglish, except for the central story, by Prabda Yoon, who wrote it in decent enough English and then translated it into Thai.
Actually, that particular story, ‘Discontinuity at eight’, reads so well that I might revise my opinion on the modish writer, now that he seems to have gone over his adolescent infatuation with originality at all costs, churning up Thaiglishisms, creating alternative worlds and the like. Of course, there is still some of that here (the ‘discontinuity’ being three variations on the same, somewhat contrived situation, with the spices of voyeuristic sex and background murder added in to look cool in this time and age) but if he keeps writing this well and moves to more consistent themes, away from Win Lyovarin’s influence, maybe Prabda Yoon will be a writer to reckon with.
I started with that central story and progressively hop-scotched back towards the cover, a new experience altogether.
The next was Panu Trivej’s own amateurish translation of his Thai short story with the catchy title (in Thai) of ‘From the neck down’ rendered here as ‘From neck to toe’. Distracted by the weird mixture of Brooklyn gangsta slang and Thai nicknames, I didn’t understand much of the story. I’ll read it in Thai when I can spare the time, to see if it makes better sense. Ditto for most of the others.
Of the six, Kittiphol Sarakkanonda’s ‘Pinhole room’ was the one that made the most sense, even though, as usual with Kittiphol, it lacks scope and relies too much on symbols, the sin of the bookish ones.
The other three stories were in such atrocious English that there was no point in trying to go through them, including the zany ‘play’ by the current SEA Write Award laureate.
Perhaps he did a good job on the Thai side of things, but shame on same Kittiphol, the purported editor of the whole book, for allowing such gobbledygook to be printed at all: this is doing a disservice to everyone concerned, English readers and the six contributing authors, himself included. Enthusiasm is no excuse for incompetence.
Again, this book may satisfy a Thai readership, so long as they stick to Thai. But its English side is bound to put off even the most illiterate English reader, and in no way should be used by Thais to learn English – or vice versa. So please, Kittiphol my friend, don’t do it again. Husband your resources to produce, at a cost, truly valuable bilingual books.
A beautiful gem this morning in ‘The Write Stuff!’ syndicated column of the ‘Education’ section of the Bangkok Post: ‘And too means as well or also. For example, “They ate too much.”’
Yes, dear Heather Vlach, and the moon is green too.