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Book Review

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Book Review: Sightseeing

by Lang Reid

Another new hardcover book on the Bookazine shelves this week, this time from a Thai author, Rattawut Lapcharoensap. Sightseeing (ISBN 1-84354-371-0, Atlantic Books in the UK, 2005) is a collection of previously published pieces, and after reading this book, the collection was not before time.

Author Rattawut acknowledges the University of Michigan, where he studied creative writing, and if all its graduates are as good as this young man, Michigan will take the world publishing houses by storm. The word pictures are exquisite, such as describing his widowed mother. “One night I caught Ma staring at herself in the bedroom mirror, with an astonished look on her face, as if she no longer recognized her own sallow reflection. It seemed Pa’s death had made our mother a curious spectator of her own life, though when I think of her now I wonder if she was simply waiting for us to notice her grief. But we were just children, Anek and I, and when children learn to acknowledge the gravity of their loved one’s sorrows they’re no longer children.” It is hard to believe that this is a young writer, only 26 years old.

Rattawut writes in the first person, taking the reader on voyages of discovery in Thai households.

There are seven short stories in the slim volume, and all of them show the same inventive attention to detail, and all have the ability to awaken emotions. The one after which the book was titled, “Sightseeing” details the writer’s mother going blind from retinal detachments. She and her son decide they should go sightseeing like tourists, as this was going to be her last chance to see the sights. Folk wisdom prevails as she tells her son he does not have to stay and miss his education, just because she is going blind. “I’m not dying here, luk (her name for her son). I’m just going blind. Remember that. There’s a big difference - a whole world of difference - even if both of those things happen to good people every day.”

The opening piece called “Farangs” shows the opposite side of the Thai-Farang equation, with the Thai young man describing the associated problems of being attracted to foreign women, plus his parental objections as well. “It’s like you’re crazy for heartache,” says his mother. “Plenty of nice Thai girls around. Girls without plane tickets.”

It is his way with words that makes these relatively simple tales just so much pleasure to read. Priscilla the Cambodian begins, “The only thing I ever learned about wealth was Priscilla the Cambodian’s beautiful teeth. All her teeth were lovely ingots, each one crowned in a cap of pure gold. When she smiled it sometimes looked like that little girl had swallowed the sun.”

Most of the items are short stories of around 25 pages, but the final item, “Cockfighter” is much longer and is divided into parts.

At B. 750 it is a hefty price for a small volume; however, it is a hardcover, and author Rattawut is a man we will hear of again. A prodigious talent. I await his next book expectantly.

Mott's CD Reviews: The Rolling Stones - Four Flicks (DVD)

Pawed by Mott the Dog
Licked by Ella Crew

5 Stars *****

The Rolling Stones started out in an Ealing rhythm and blues club in 1962, and by the release of their fourth chart topping single ‘Satisfaction’ in 1965, they had become the world’s number one rock ‘n’ roll band, and with just the odd glitch along the way that is where they have remained for the last forty years. When their fortieth anniversary loomed, meetings were held to decide how to celebrate this amazing feat. A greatest hits album was conjured up, aptly titled ‘Forty Licks’, and a world tour was organized. It was decided to give the tour a twist. As well as the usual stadium concerts they would squeeze in as many arena and theatre concerts. The idea was such a success - and the boys were enjoying themselves so much - that the tour kept on getting extended and extended. The Stones packed out everywhere they played, appearing before 500,000 people at a festival in Toronto, and as little as 3,500 at the London Astoria.

In New York and London they did all three sorts of concerts, giving their fans the opportunity to see the band in whatever environment they chose. Each set list was tailored to fit the size of concert and which country they were in.

This 4 DVD box set showcases the ambitious concept of the ‘Licks 2002/2003 World Tour’. Three dramatically different shows on three different stages, with three different productions, and three different set lists. Only three songs make it onto each set list with ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ bringing the set to a rousing climax every night. ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ making it every night. Of the three DVD’s devoted to each separate concert you get the excitement of an arena concert at New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden; the giant spectacle of London’s Twickenham Stadium; and the intimacy of the historic Olympia Theatre in Paris. In all over fifty songs spread over the four DVD’s, over nine hours of the Rolling Stones. Not once does the entertainment level drop below eleven.

The first DVD is a collection of enlightening documentaries about the tour, plus a selection of bonus tracks that did not make it onto the set lists of the following concerts. Each concert has special guest appearances and features such as backstage passes, commentaries from the band themselves, and select-a-Stone feature where you can be your own director and follow the progress of your favorite Stone for several songs.

The Stones are in amazing form, and have way too much energy than is right for people coming to the end of their sixth decade.

The dapper Charlie Watts is precision itself throughout, plus he is hilarious during the documentaries.

Ron Wood plays some blistering solos, always being the perfect foil to the other guitarist. Ron Wood has been a Rolling Stone for thirty years now, but is still considered to be the new boy. Maybe because more than 90% of the songs played at these concerts were originally written and recorded before Ron Wood joined the band.

Sir Mick Jagger is a mass of endless energy and is still the best front man in rock ‘n’ roll. During the first DVD you get the impression that Mick Jagger still thinks of himself as leader of the band, but clearly there are two others who indulge him, but still pull their own strings.

Star of the show is Keef Richards, the original rock ‘n’ roll riff master, spraying Chuck Berry riffs from his guitar on the rockers, taking ‘Satisfaction’ on different journeys when the mood takes him, and playing the blues as only he can. Keith Richards’ solo spots each night not only give the show an added depth, but are always a highlight.

There are too many other musical highlights to mention in one review (well, possibly the truly amazing version of ‘Midnight Rambler’, as the band and audience seemed to enjoy this particular number so much, it is hard to fathom why the song is not played every night). I will finish by listing down what you get for your money.

No, I cannot forgive them either for not turning up in Bangkok, but do not cut off your nose to spite your face; this is a very fine collection. Take the money you got on your refunded ticket and spend it on ‘Forty Flicks’.

The Rolling Stone
Keith Richards - Guitar and Vocals
Mick Jagger - Vocals, Harmonica, Guitar
Charlie Watts - Drums
Ronnie Wood - Guitar
Auxiliary Stones
Daryl Jones - Bass
Chuck Leavell - Keyboards
Bobby Keyes - Saxophone
Bernard Fowler - Vocals
Lisa Fisher - Vocals
Blondie – Vocals and the very rock ‘n’ roll acoustic guitar on Honky Tonk Woman.
Guest appearances - Sheryl Crow, Solomon Burke, Angus and Malcolm Young of AC/DC

Disc 1
Tip of the Tongue Licks Around The World Select-a-Stone, Bonus Tracks, Beast Of Burden, You Don’t Have To Mean It, Rock Me Baby, Bitch, I Can’t Turn You Loose, Extreme Western Grip, Well Well
Disc 2
Select-a-Stone Band Commentary Bonus Features, New York City, Madison Square Garden, Intro (incl. Miss You – Dr. Dre Remix 2002), Street Fighting Man, If You Can’t Rock Me, Don’t Stop, Monkey Man, Angie, Let It Bleed, Midnight Rambler, Thru and Thru, Happy, You Got Me Rocking, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, Honky Tonk Women, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, When The Whip Comes Down, Brown Sugar, Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Disc 3
Band Commentary Backstage Pass Bonus Features
London, Twickenham Stadium, Brown Sugar, You Got Me Rocking, Rocks Off, Wild Horses, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Paint, It Black, Tumbling Dice, Slipping Away, Sympathy For The Devil, Star Star, I Just Want To Make Love To You, Street Fighting Man, Gimme Shelter, Honky Tonk Women (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Disc 4
Select-a-Stone Band Commentary Backstage Pass Bonus Features
Paris, Olympia Theatre, Start Me Up, Live With Me, Neighbours, Hand Of Fate, No Expectations, Worried About You, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker), Stray Cat Blues, Dance (Pt. 1), Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, That’s How Strong My Love Is, Going To A Go-Go, The Nearness of You, Before They Make Me Run, Love Train, Respectable, Honky Tonk Women, Brown Sugar, Jumpin’ Jack Flash

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