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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Bangkok Boy

The reviewers table is in chaos. Maverick House sent me Bangkok Boy (ISBN 978-1-905379-51-4, Maverick House 2008) written by Chai Pinit in November, and somehow I missed it. So apologies, but better late than never I suppose.
This book claims it is the story of a stolen childhood lost to sexual abuse, after the writer Chai Pinit was molested by a teacher. In actual fact, even a perfunctory reading will show that this is just one of Chai’s many excuses to cover his lifestyle.
He was the first son of a dysfunctional family in Sisaket province in the north-east. A father who was a minor thug and alcoholic and a gambling alcoholic mother. He writes of his mother chasing his father with a butcher’s knife having found about his infidelity with a younger woman. His father’s excuse was it was a natural occurrence because “That’s what men do.” With that sort of family mores, it is not surprising that the son would follow in the father’s footsteps.
And that he did. Fashioning himself on his role model father, he became the school bully, stealing money from home, carrying a pistol in his schoolbag and generally becoming uncontrollable. This was possible, of course, because there was no parental control being given. Part of this is due to the culture in the villages, where the eldest son can do no wrong, and everything is given to him. All other siblings have to wait in line.
Chai soon finds out that since he can do no wrong at home, and the other school children are afraid of him, why go to school at all. Juvenile delinquency grows rapidly in that type of environment.
Whilst the title is “Bangkok Boy”, it could just as well have been called “The Boy from Isan”, as much of the book deals with the background of the writer. He describes his Isan village and the hierarchy that controls it in less than glowing terms. From the village chiefs downwards, this was a medieval pecking order, with police complicity. In this village, at least, this was the Wild East.
His times in Bangkok (and Pattaya) show the same self-serving nature of the man. His relationships with his women, and mothers of his children were a complete re-run of his parents’ lives. His taking up prostitution is merely the ‘easy way’ to make enough money to continue with his gambling and alcohol habits. The hospital ending is an attempt at mustering sympathy. It did not work for me.
Bangkok Boy is on the Bookazine shelves for B. 525. A chilling look at how the Thai society can produce such complete self-centered people. There would appear to be no end to this behavior without a massive rebuilding in the North-East community thinking. While reading this book, it was very difficult to remain non-judgmental, and I admit to failure.
It should probably be noted that the only time Chai Pinit veered away from his selfish behavior was during his three months as a monk. It is a pity he could not take the cornerstones of the religion and apply them to his everyday life.