Vol. IX No. 16 - Tuesday
April 20 - April 26, 2010

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by Saichon Paewsoongnern

Book Review
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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Encounters: A Memoir

There are many ways that a book may arrive on the reviewer’s desk. In most cases with new releases, the publisher will forward a review copy, along with the dates of release and price. They are the easy ones. Sometimes the reviewer will take a book from the Bookazine shelves, being very careful with it, as it has to be returned in mint condition. Bookazine also informs the reviewer of the RRP (recommended retail price).

Another way that a book can land on the table is when sent in directly by the author, usually this means that the book is self-published, not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with this, especially if the book has literary worth. However, self-published books must include notice of their availability and price.

This week’s review is of a self-published book (Encounters: A Memoir, ISBN 1-4392-6461-9, 2009), which arrived with no indication of where it would be stocked, or its RRP, so sat un-reviewed until the author Sam Ogleseby furnished some further details.

Oglesby worked for the UN for many years, and as a single man was able to enjoy a UN funded personal world exploration, with his tour of duties being mainly around four years in any one country. His touring included Libya, Switzerland, Vietnam, Italy, France, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma, Indonesia, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Not bad when someone else is paying for you. In fact a wonderful quote I received yesterday is worth repeating: Foreign Aid: The process where money from the poor people in a rich country is transferred to the rich people in a poor country!

The unreality of life as a white UN official plays heavily upon Oglesby, and he writes of his Vietnam experience, “Here we were fighting a war against an enemy who rode bicycles down the Ho Chi Minh trail …… and what were we doing? Spending big bucks on apartments that were only used a couple of days a month and running a phony airline so that provincial swells could bring their mistresses up from Saigon for the weekend.”

One of his superiors was a serial rapist of underage girls, but a blind eye was taken, which undoubtedly rankled with Oglesby whose personal homosexual exploits were not always met with the same degree of laissez faire.

Oglesby writes well and can generally hold the interest of the reader, especially when describing details of the different countries. However, he does lapse at times into a personal diary with repetitious references to his native lovers. I found this became an annoyance, even though the subtitle was Relationship Journeys from Around the World. And before I am labeled as a ‘gay basher’, nothing could be further from the truth. I have many friends who are homosexual and personal sexual leaning does not come into our discussions on any subject. However Oglesby’s constant references to ‘my lover’ became quite unnecessary, and was obviously done for effect. An aggressive stance is really unnecessary in literature these days. It might have been shocking 50 years ago, but not anymore.

Encounters is available through Amazon dot com for USD 11.51.


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