marcel barang

Woe is I

In English on 30/09/2010 at 11:29 pm

Where to begin?

Everything is quiet on the e-book front.
Everything is quiet on the foreign e-book front.
Everything is quiet in this townhouse. Dead quiet.
In the past ten days, I’ve made three unavoidable phone calls, received four, two from my brother. No visitor. Even the seasonal rat has left the living room ceiling.

Item 1 – Did you say Four Reigns? Seventy-nine days ago some dilettante from the Pramoj clan who keeps reading this blog (yes sir, you leave a trace here) offered his help to get my version published if it was any good. Thirty days later, this very busy body hadn’t found the time to have a look at the translation (see ‘Four Reigns under the fifth’), which must be pretty bad, given his subsequent clamorous silence.

Item 2 – The Thutiyawiseit saga remains a tedious joke. With luck, I’ll hear from the Bunluea Old People’s Home before my own cremation. It only took those sleepwalkers ten months to notice I failed to sign a letter requesting their permission to publish (see ‘État d’urgence, connaît pas’).
Not that it matters much, anyway: the website is … out of sorts – has been for the past two months or so. Apart from me (see ‘A sad electronic tale’), two enlightened souls last week tried to buy books from thaifiction.com, or so the back office record says. They failed, as I did – predictably, as nothing serious has been done about sorting out the problems.
Why is that?
Because I must rely on two geeks, both young men I like very much as persons yet would sack right away if, behaving as they have, they were my employees. Trouble is they aren’t. Both Pop and Ben have full-time jobs in our glamorous multimedia group and what they do for me they do as favours – extra work at no pay. So that it took them only eight months to retool thaifiction, a fortnight’s job, and get it going as of mid-October last year.
Both Pop and Ben humour me whenever they can, and I’m truly grateful for this, but otherwise seething being in the position of a beggar, which I can’t decently blame them for. I should get reconciled with the idea that I’m 65 and past it.
Ben, who’s short-sighted, squiggles down on trace paper he puts his nose to what I’d like him to fix in a thorough six or eight or ten points list and then, with luck, acts on point one and point two within hours and … that’s it.
As for Pop, usually, to make him do anything, besides hassling him with calls he sometimes takes or emails he never acknowledges, I have to physically sit by his side – and even then.
Yesterday, I crossed over to their offices. I started with ground-floor Ben, who’s quitting his job tomorrow anyway: he has to attend to family business for a while, he claims. He’ll run their online leather bags peddling website, which he designed, and says he has arranged to be back with us ‘sometime early next year’. He has little English, but, endearingly, keeps trying. So I offered him as a fare-thee-well gift a Thai glossary of spoken English terms and phrases I bought for myself a quarter century ago.
Then I went to see Pop, Ben’s capo on the third floor in things having to do with thaifiction.com. Pop is supposed to cure the ailing payment and delivery pages of the website with new coded prescriptions of his own that are Aesculapius Greek to me. I found him busy checking code on an ASTV Flash and sundry gobbledygook page. After twenty minutes of this and hardly a word exchanged, I left.

Item 3 – Given the state of the website, I had this grand plan of having a French concern of professionals handle all of my production for me for a 35 percent fee. Thanks to a newly found French friend, poet Jean-Noël Orengo, who gave me the idea, I was put in touch last July with a cyber-honcho in Paris who said in an email to him and me he’d be delighted to handle the loot. A couple of unanswered emails later, I called Xavier Gazin up. We had a costly, friendly, fruitful conversation and he agreed to send me a model contract forthwith. That was nine days ago. How long does it take to send an email?
Meanwhile, because of this chap’s technical requirements, I’ve been spending or is it wasting untold hours searching for software turning this format into that to accommodate this or that e-book reader. Ugh.

So what to do? Suicide isn’t an option yet. There are plans for the immediate future: tomorrow evening, a bunch of grateful young Thai poets will come and play up here. I’ve accepted to appear on Thai TV sometime next month (a true sign of desperation, that). I can’t decently conk out yet.
So I practise the ostrich defence. I immerse my neck into housework, into LRB and TLS and NYRB as they come through the mail, into The Naked and the Dead (revisited half a century later in late hours when TV soaps allow), and foremost into translation – a highly poetic Rewat Pongpipat short story the other day, a shoddily written Ror Janthaphimpa one straightened up today –, hoping that one day these accumulating literary riches will turn into e-books I likely won’t be able to sell either.

To end on a gung-ho note, though, as one should whilst life throbs: I just proofed this evening Zakariya Amataya poems I traduced into English that’ll come out Monday 4 October in the Outlook section of the Bangkok Post. Don’t miss ’m, folks.

  1. leather bags look really nice specially those natural leather bags, “-`

  2. Sorry I ever offered to help. What a terrible person I must be…

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