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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Confessions of a Serial Letter-Writer

This week’s book arrived on the review table directly from its author, publisher and copyright holder, John Arnone. However, this prolific writer of “Confessions of a Serial Letter-Writer” living upcountry in Yasothon got off on the wrong foot for me when I looked at the back cover and saw that author John Arnone had decided that my review of his previous book was in The Nation newspaper, and their reviewer, James Eckardt, was writing for the Pattaya Mail. Blunder, blunder, blunder.
However, Arnone seems to have made literary blundering into what he considers to be an art form. After writing more than 600 letters to the English language papers in Bangkok, of which only 300 were published, he is ready to inflict them all upon the unsuspecting reader, complete with his own reasons as to why some of what he considered to be his best were rejected. Mind you, was this something we really wanted to know? He also admits on page 43, “I hate when someone gets the last word in.”
By this stage of the review you will have already realized that John Arnone is someone with strongly held opinions. I refrain from using the word ‘convictions’, as that would presume that research has been done. From many of his outpourings it is obvious that Mr. Arnone is neither scientist nor visionary, but it was interesting to note that the rabid upholder of personal rights to smoke has eventually become a non-smoker. Hmmm!
Like the crusaders, Arnone, with his poison pen in hand is ready to not only be the aggressor, but also defend himself against all attacks. When he decided that whining Westerners deserved a goodly serving of the Arnone medicine, he launched into print berating some poor chap who had had the temerity to complain about THAI International, only to find that the chap he was slaying was Thai! Arnone then writes, “Of course, in order to justify my blunder, I can rationalize that he was probably educated in the West and whining can be infectious.” An amazing (ab)use of logic or ‘reductio ad absurdum’.
It is interesting to note that just as in his previous book, Arnone continues to rail against the US, the country he abandoned. “I criticize my country of origin in the pages of the newspapers here almost every week…” And again, “All too many migrants refuse to accept they rejected their country of origin.” However, I am led to believe that US social security checks are exempted from the abandonment!
There is one chapter given the heading of “Pretentious Drivel”. I was very tempted to describe all of the book in that fashion, but that would not be correct. John Arnone does have many salient points to make with his serial letter writing. It is just the rather pretentious delivery of those points that is so annoying. Contentious just to be contentious seldom brings forth the real truth. This book was taking vanity publishing to the extreme.
There is a phrase which would describe the redoubtable John Arnone. “I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.”