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Book Review

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Book Review: Thailand : Good Daughter

by Lang Reid

Good Daughter is a first novel from Bjorn Turmann, originally a Vancouver resident, but now living in Asia for 12 years. In the short biography he is described as a writer, university lecturer, creative entrepreneur and independent film maker.

Good Daughter is printed in Thailand (ISBN 979-99888-0-2 Equinox Publishing, 2005), which is fitting for a book centred in Bangkok, with the female lead being a bar girl from Isaan (Khun Som). The other characters in the novel include a psychologically fragile American (Bill), an abrasive Australian (Danny), a rather wet-behind-the-ears American undergraduate (Eddie), another Isaan bar girl (Dao) and an “uncle” from the village, with a superstitious hold over Khun Som.

The book takes you through around ten years of the Isaan girl’s life, from the initial sexual plunder by the uncle, through to the lure of Bangkok used by the recruiting Thai madam and the young girl’s inevitable descent into the sex trade in the nation’s capital.

Running through the girl’s tale are a motley collection of males, smitten to greater or lesser extents by the charms of Thai women. It is their attitude to their respective lifestyles in Thailand that is also covered in the book, complete with attempts (successful at times) to show the psychological background to this.

Without wishing to dampen a first-time author’s enthusiasm, much of the book covers subjects that have been covered before. The relationships forged between Thai bar girls and foreign males have been dissected many times, and always with the usual (and expected) outcomes, noted by the respective authors; authors who continue to show that the relationships experienced here are merely reinventions of the psychological wheel of self delusion.

The worth of this book, as a serious work of fiction, is contained in the three page Author’s Discussion at the end of the book. In it, Turmann attempts to interpret the concept of “good” daughter and what that really means in the Thai (rural) society. This is a brave step for someone not born into the local society, but Turmann handles it fairly well. However, I had problems with his contention that ‘katoeys’ result from males wishing to be part of the powerful female section of society. Whilst women can be powerful in the city, in the rural scene, females are still an oppressed group.

Turmann also looks at the concept of ‘marriage’ in the Thai (Asian) society, and highlights the practicality (or is it pragmatism?) that exists where marriage may not be based of the European concept of ‘love’. However, the visiting foreigners are happy to ignore this side of reality in this country.

For me, the book was saved by the last three pages, as I had read the same tales of Isaan girl in the city, love-sick swains, abusive drunks and the Nana Plaza bar scene too many times before. If it was an attempt to show something different, then it failed, but if you have not read the plethora of other books covering the subject, it provided a coherent read.

The review copy was made available by Bookazine and had an RRP of B. 595.

Mott's CD Reviews: Hawkwind - Take Me To Your Leader

mott the dog

5 Stars *****

‘Take Me To Your Leader’ is the 21st all new studio album to come out under the Hawkwind banner since the band’s conception in 1969. (The number would run into hundreds if you counted all live albums, compilations, and semi legal bootlegs). It is also a fine return to form by the original lords of Space Rock.

Hawkwind of course have been and always will be led by their captain Dave Brock, who’s contribution here is stamped all over every nuance, a man still at the absolute peak of his creative powers. Dave Brock is joined on ‘Take Me To Your Leader’ by long time Hawknaut drummer Richard Chadwick who joined in 1988, and has stayed the flight ever since. Dave Chadwick had a tentacle in writing four of the songs on this album, one with sole credit ‘Digital Nation’ which has already become a staple of the Hawkwind live show, as I am sure it will remain for many years to come.

The album is topped and tailed by two tributes to their former front man Robert Calvert. The first story on this album is a re-recording of the Hawkwind classic ‘Spirit Of The Age’ written by Robert Calvert and Dave Brock in 1977 for the album ‘Quark, Strangeness and Charm’. The story is of travel in deep space and being frozen in time, leaving behind your loved ones, so quite obviously upon your return, they are no longer still around. So, if on your space journeys you have an android for company and she doesn’t love you, things can become a little complicated! Sound a little strange? Well what do you expect from Hawkwind!

Just to make things a little weirder, Matthew Wright, a long time Hawkwind fan and popular children’s TV presenter in Britain, has been invited into sing Robert Calvert’s words and what’s even weirder is that it works perfectly. ‘Spirit Of The Age’ has been brought dragging and screaming into the year 2005, and even if you have the original it is well worth getting this album to get your story updated.

‘Spirit Of The Age’ is brought to a fine Hawkrock conclusion, and then blends neatly into ‘Out Here We Are’, the first Alan Davey song to materialize, emphasizing the importance of his role within the band. Beautiful layers of Hawkwind keyboards are layered one upon another to give you that sound that only the masters of Space Rock can produce.

This slow paced instrumental track shows you all the classic traits of the Hawkwind vibe, whilst adding a few twists of its own with a very jazzy feel in the mid section, leaving room for some stunning saxophone work for sometime Hawknaut Jez Huggett. The song lulls you along in a swish of sound, relaxing your ears to the sonic waves, but as the song drifts out, the second Alan Davey song ‘Greenback Massacre’ launches off from its platform, reminding you never to turn your back on any Hawkwind as it can instantly whip into a tempest at the flick of a switch.

‘Greenback Massacre’ is probably the best new Hawkwind rocker since ‘The Secret Agent’ on Hawkwind’s album ‘Electric Teppe’ (1992). The unmistakable sound of Dave Brock’s guitar leads us into another song, this time written by Captain Brock, ‘To Love A Machine’.

The title track is led in by some smoky blues piano, which shows the band are not afraid to delve back to their roots (scratch any band hard enough and you will come up with a Robert Johnston riff), but as the song slowly appears the bass work is so heavy it will make your speakers rumble, and your windows fall out. I’m pleased to say the moggies for several blocks scattered when this first dropped out of the CD player.

This is strongly followed by Richard Chadwick’s ‘Digital Nation’, everything a Hawkwind song should be, futuristic to an extreme. ‘Digital Nation’ also shows off some more influential work by Jez Huggett, this time on flute.

Next is an Arthur Brown song (yes he, the very same god of Hellfire). ‘Sunray’ twists the dials up a notch with the band giving rock solid support to a Brown crazed vocal.

‘Sighs’ is just a minute burst of some spaced out Hawkwind to introduce the last proper song on the album ‘Angela Android’, which could be ‘Spirit Of The Age Part Two’; more stories of consorting with metalloids, taken at a very fast space race time, with tongue firmly poked in cheek. (I Hope!) The songs close out with an amazing cameo appearance by Lene Lovich who plays out the role of the aforementioned android, when she springs into life, giving the androids side of events.

The final number on the album is a rant by Arthur Brown paying tribute to the eccentricity of Robert Calvert, who twenty years after his death still has a great influence over the band.

‘Take Me To Your Leader’ is dedicated to the memory of John Peel and Tommy Vance.

Dave Brock / Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Synths
Alan Davey / Bass, Vocals, Keyboards, Synths
Richard Chadwick / Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Jason Stuart / Keyboards
Additional Hawknauts
Simon House / Keyboards, Violin
Arthur Brown / Vocals
Matthew Wright / Vocals
Lene Lovich / Vocals
Jez Huggett / Saxophone, Flute, Trumpet
James Clemas / Keyboards


Spirit Of The Age
Out Here We Are
Greenback Massacre
To Love A Machine
Take Me To Your Leader
Digital Nation
Angela Android
A Letter To Robert

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]