marcel barang

Posts Tagged ‘TVThai’

Never say die

In English on 28/08/2011 at 7:51 pm

Will I have a good night’s sleep?
I’m psyching myself for tomorrow’s late morning interview by an ASTV team in situ (my ex officio workplace) to be broadcast in mid to late September, I’m told.
What will I talk about? Thai literature and its translation, of course – obstacles and rewards, hiccups (Four Reigns, Tuthiyawiseit), this year’s SEA Write maybe, the new wave of Thai writers, e-books and the digital future… Well, actually, I don’t even know how long I’m supposed to expatiate. We’ll see.

After I was screwed by TVThai’s predators (see ‘One more nail in my coffin’, 27/1/11), I swore to myself I’d ignore any future Thai telly talk request. I’m no good at talking anyway. It tires me unduly. And my Thai isn’t as flawless as I’d like it to be.
But ASTV is different: after all, we are part of the same multimedia group, and my work – I mean, the best of Thai literature I’m dealing with – needs to be better known, now that is a cinch to order from and I have launched a bilingual blog, เรื่องสั้นไทย | thai to english fiction, which is modestly successful: 14 000 clicks in two and a half months, and 47 subscribers to date. (NB: About eighty percent of those visits come via a permanent ad in the leading website of the group, Manager Online.)

But then there’s a problem: ASTV is ‘different’. Because it’s seen as a mouthpiece of the ‘Yellow shirts’, whatever it broadcasts is deemed by many to be biased, not to say pernicious.

Well, talking for myself, pernicious I hope I’m not, but biased assuredly: biased in favour of good literature, whether penned by yellow-shirted or red-shirted or shirtless or stuffed-shirt writers; biased in favour of plurality and no-punches-pulled intellectual debate without exclusion, excommunication or anathema; and biased against narrow-mindedness, intolerance and censorship under whatever guise.
So there.

Oh, I know what I’ll do: tomorrow I’ll wear Chart Korbjitti & Co’s t-shirt, the one that states on the chest ‘Vote for Phan Ma Ba’! It’s a bit outdated – it was made for the 3 July election – but it’ll make a statement all by itself. (Phan Ma Ba: Mad Dogs & Co.)

PS: There’s more to that TVThai highway robbery.
The interview was set by a young man who, once it was over, handed me a Xeroxed leaflet, a collection of short stories he had penned. A month or two later, that same young man called to say the interview for Sin Samosorn was being ‘shifted to the evening cultural programme’ and what did I think of his stories? I’ll let you know once the interview is out, I said in an unusual fit of pique. The interview was never out as such: only a few words taken out of context for a broadcast I wasn’t even invited to watch. When I tried to get in touch with the fellow, I realised I hadn’t written down his phone number on that leaflet as I thought I had.
Months later, the same fellow calls yet again with the convenient tale that he was let go by TVThai soon after my interview and didn’t know what happened to it, and could I have your address to send you my latest collection of short stories?
That, Worrawit Sapthaweesaeng did, and his collection is entitled Work of a left-handed underdeveloped writer.
I couldn’t have thought of a better comment myself.

One more nail in my coffin

In English, Reading matters on 27/01/2011 at 11:04 pm

Last Saturday night I forgot to sleep out of despondency.
To the fact that my e-books hardly sell at all and to the curses put on Four Reigns and Thutiyawiseit – nine months and six to seven months of work down the drain – , the TVThai treatment added another straw onto my camel’s back: from what others tell me, TVThai seems to be in the habit of playing fast and loose with interviews. Mine was obtained under false pretence, as a guest to the Sin Samosorn (Art Club) half-hour midday program. Instead I was apparently allotted a couple of minutes on an evening ‘entertainment’ program, without my being informed beforehand. I had made it a condition to be able to talk, beside translation mores, about what happened over the above-mentioned two books: reportedly, not a word of that was broadcast. I was promised a video of the whole exercise – someone who has been there before told me, ‘Don’t count on it or be prepared for hassles!’
To add to the gloom, the Bangkok Post’s revamped, shrunken supplements do not augur well for the pursuit of my contributions. I’m told the refurbished Brunch broadsheet will carry another short story soon. I wonder what this will look like, especially with the accompanying article about the author that is such an informative (and lengthy) complement: in the current format, the story alone would run over at least four pages…
The story in question, ‘A year and a half later’ by Jamlong Fangchonlajit, has been with the Post since I translated it in October 2008. Only 1 900 words long, it is one of the shortest I’ve ever translated. Isn’t its length the main reason why it has suddenly found favour?
The problem is that good very short stories are extremely hard to find – no Saki here that I know of. Most are in the 2 000/4 000 words bracket (as Outlook used to carry); some are even longer. So what does this portend?

I wrote the above before dinner, about an hour ago.

An email at 21:21 informs me that in its mercantile wisdom the management of the Bangkok Post has decided to discontinue the publication of translated Thai short stories. The Jamlong story will come out in the Life section (not Brunch) as usual on the first Monday of next month, 7 February – the thirtieth and last.
I’m glad for Khun Jamlong, saved by the gong.
And I’m going to bed groggy, as last night, for a variety of reasons, I forgot to sleep yet again.

Goodnight all.

My phantom interview by TVThai

In English on 20/01/2011 at 3:21 pm

Just now, coming back from a trip to the Phra Chan (Moon) pier to purchase the latest and last issue of Chor Karrakeit, I stop at the entrance to my lane by the van selling vegetables thrice a week.
One of my neighbours exclaims, ‘Oh! I saw you on TV last night, I don’t remember which channel, something about translation, right?’
This is how I learn that my interview of two to three months ago by a team from TVThai’s ศิลป์สโมสร (Sin Samosorn – Art Club) has finally been aired.
Not a call, not an email to inform me beforehand (I never left the house yesterday). So very courteous and professional!

Four men had come to my house – a driver who kept out of the way outside, a cameraman, a young man who held the mike and the handsome presenter who asked the questions.  They had insisted on interviewing me in situ, so they could peek at my living conditions, at my books, at the pictures on my walls. We talked mainly on the front porch, me reclining in my favourite rocking chair. The recording took over one hour, for a broadcast of perhaps fifteen minutes of chatting spread out over the allotted half hour.
I talked freely about translation methods, Thai literature in general, how my translation of Four Reigns was denied existence and about the extortion racket of the Bunluea Fund over my translation of Thutiyawiseit. I wonder what they kept of what I told them.
Perhaps I’ll find out from the internet. Perhaps I’ll never know.
Thanks a lot, Chong Sarm!