Pool and its role
in Asian Communism
I sat down to re-read Pool and its role in Asian Communism, various
noisy minority groups were running amok in Bangkok, attempting to pressurize
the fall of the government. I was immediately reminded of a statement in
the author’s notes which went, “War is not a natural last resort of
conflict. It is merely the evidence that man is not intelligent enough to
solve problems through dialogue and reason.” Sadly, so true.
Colin Cotterill’s work has
much depth and Pool and its role in Asian Communism (ISBN
974-8303-76-4, Asia Books 2005) is back on the Bookazine shelves at B. 450.
It begins in a billiard ball
factory, with an aging Waldo, the black quality control officer training his
replacement, a young Asian girl named Saifon. The opening chapters build up
the characters into very believable people, with author Cotterill
‘narrating’ in a “deep south” style which fits the characterizations, and
does not appear forced.
During the first half of the
book, you will be beginning to wonder just where “pool” and “Asian
communism” comes in, other than in the billiard ball factory, but this very
quickly becomes obvious as the action picks up and Waldo and Saifon come to
Thailand and then on to Laos.
Laos, because that was
Saifon’s home originally, a country being torn in every direction
politically, as the “phony war” (now conveniently forgotten) was held on the
Laotian soil. When political ideology is replaced by common sense, the true
suffering of the ordinary Laotian can begin to be appreciated. For the
children, displaced and abused, political ideology has much to answer for.
The crux of the story comes
in Saifon’s dealing with her own psyche, damaged from having been a
trafficked child too, when she was eight years old. At first she thinks she
is crusading for the groups of children who had also suffered, and were
still suffering, but finally at one point, she realizes that getting the
traffickers identified was actually her own catharsis.
The identification of one
and the resulting Thai trial, marred by corruption (not unknown in Thailand
even today) is pure theatre, but the way the truth comes out later brings a
smile to the reader.
However, with two main
characters, Aldo too had his story and his background that was there to
haunt him, and his catharsis come out as he and Saifon discuss their lives.
Aldo may not have been trafficked, but he had no less of a psychological
scar that needed to be healed.
What starts off as a very
“simple” book, ends up as one of the deepest and darkest books you can
read. Whilst it is a work of fiction, there are real people on whom the
book’s characters are based, including one in particular mentioned in the
author’s note at the end of the book.
For B. 450, this book is
worth it, even if just for that first quotation alone. It is a disturbing
book that will move you to tears. An excellent read from a highly skilled
author. If you missed it first time, get it now.