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Book Review: by Lang Reid
Confessions of a Serial Letter-Writer
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
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.”
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