Book Review
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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Tricksters and Punks of Asia

Tricksters and Punks of Asia (ISBN 978-616-90336-2-2, Fast Track Publishing (Thailand), 2010) is another new book from Phil Nicks (probably not his real name, but just another of Nicks’ tricks).

The first part of the book attempts to explain the phenomenon which was called “punk”, with images of Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols coming immediately to mind.

As well as pure punk (if that’s not an oxymoron), Nicks brings in free thinkers and ‘outsiders’ and those mavericks who just don’t fit in, and their creativity and ways of expression that these groups and individuals have available to them.

Nicks writes, “The goal of authentic punk is freedom of creative expression; and their enemies are found in limiting restrictions and standards, interfering control and manipulation, and outdated or unjust systems. Pseudo punk is driven by nihilism, commercial exploitation, insanity, political extremism, criminality and juvenile delinquency … (it is) characterized by immaturity, emotional reaction, rebelliousness and brazen provocation with intent to offend or cause harm.”

One can debate the definitions, particularly when author Nicks uses The Sex Pistols as examples. Johnny, Sid and the boys showed in my opinion a complete lack of uniqueness, and quoting from Nicks’ book, “The Sex Pistols were clotheshorses for (Dame Vivienne) Westwoods’ designer punk outfits which were retailed from the partner’s Sex Boutique on London’s Fulham Road.” Hardly ‘original’ expression.

The second half of the book is devoted to the tricksters, and much is made of tricksters in the publishing business, but perhaps a little too much is made of Nicks’ good-guy publishers, which becomes almost a paid advertisement.

Faith or ‘fake’ healers from the Philippines are examined, with a former impressing Nicks, though most were of the latter group. His descriptions of Manila show it as a place not appealing as a backdrop for miracles.

The second half of the book is not as thought provoking as the first, with much being stories of people being duped in business dealings, followed by some items which only loosely fitted into the title of tricksters of Asia.

Good glossary and bibliography at the back.

This book is a much deeper treatise and philosophical examination of today’s society than the cover would have you believe. Never judge a book by its cover they say, and this one proves it. Mr. Nicks, or Fast Track Publishing, what in the name of Beelzebub possessed you to use seven fonts to write “Tricksters”? Use of multiple fonts is much loved by Thai designers, but produces illegible wording, which cheapens the product. It is neither original nor ‘punk’. Redesign the front cover, then go and read the information on using white letters on black backgrounds (David Ogilvie of Ogilvie and Mather did it all for you) and redo the back cover and present the book again. It will sell well. In its current format it will be passed over, which is a shame. The first half is worth reading, especially as it mentions Wile E Coyote, one of my all-time anti-heroes. B. 495 through Asia Books, Kinokuniya, MK Book Services and Amazon dot com.