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Book Review: by Lang Reid
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
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