If I were the President
Arnone, resident in NE Thailand has been at it again. A compulsive writer,
he is well known to the readers of the letters pages in the major English
language dailies, expounding his own brand of philosophy. You never meet
John Arnone in print and leave without getting some ideas as to where he is
coming from, and where he thinks we should all be going.
Now I have probably been less than kind to John Arnone’s writings in the
past, and I must tip my hat to the American expat in that he admits his
previous books were not all that great. “In 1998 I wrote a book entitled
‘Why I left America’. It was an angry rant, poorly written and contained
many famous names, not to mention a lot of expletives. The book was rejected
by several publishers and an agent in Los Angeles.”
I reviewed that previous book, writing, “By page 174 he is describing
himself appearing as a racist homophobic misogynist! However, he does
explain that whilst holding opinions, he does not pretend to be offering
proof. Nor does he offer any solutions. But what he has done is state quite
categorically just why he left America.”
This concept of offering no solutions, while piling on the muck, was not
lost on others either, including a woman in the US publishing business who
chided the fact that Arnone criticized almost everything about America, but
offered no solutions for the many problems he outlined. Arnone admits to
this and accepts the criticism.
If I were the President with the subtitle ‘Why I left America Part II’ (ISBN
978-616-7526-01-0, self published 2011) is John Arnone’s attempt to redress
that situation, and by dreaming of himself as the supreme US commander, with
the supreme powers invested in a President, he has the solutions.
In the 35 chapters, Arnone covers such disparate items as Crime and
Punishment, Terrorism, The Economy, Deadbeat Dads, Religion, Science and
Experimental Medicine, the News Services, advertising, The American Family
and finally “Reality”. And it is in that final chapter that John Arnone
bares his soul. He is not the self-centered man he appeared in his previous
The book is available in major bookstores with an RRP of B. 395, so it is
not an expensive read. I began reading it with a bias, based on his previous
efforts, but this time I was pleasantly surprised. Though much of his ideas
are quite frankly not workable in today’s age, he admits this. On page 9 he
reports that, “There’s the way it should be and there’s the way that it is.
My first book represented the way that I believe it is; this writing is my
take on the way it should be.”
John Arnone’s writings have grown up. This book is not a rant, but a
reasoned approach to the problems in America (and many other countries, I
might add) with some ideas on how to get over the problems. It is not an
expensive read, and worth a few hours of your time in reading it. Well done,
Book Review: By Lang Reid
Khao San Road
latest book from David Young (The Scribe, Thailand Joy, Fast Eddie’s Lucky 7
A-Go-Go, Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok Dick, No Problem Girl) is Khao San Road
(ISBN 978-616-90671-0-8, Hostage Press International 2010).
For those who are not conversant with Khao San Road in Bangkok, this is the
Thailand Mecca for the backpackers, similar to Earl’s Court in London used
to be for the Australians doing Europe on five pounds a day. Khao San Road
is the place to get fake diplomas as well as real hangovers. Young describes
Khao San Road as being, “Parades of young people rambled about, talking,
laughing, and drinking from open bottles of beer. Everyone seemed involved
in some great, final, free-for-all of independence and irresponsibility.”
Author David Young then takes his readers to that Khao San Road, where you
meet a cast of several players, all in the one area, but all with different
agendas. There is the American self-help guru and his fiancée, both of whom
are desperately in need of help. The Thai national English language program
school teacher who is not even barely literate in her subject (an all too
frequent an occurrence), and who is given the brief to find five native
English speakers in one weekend. There are a couple of grifters, all living
off their wits, and the wallets of the unsuspecting newbies. Another an
American youth living under the shadow of his deceased elder brother. A
young teenager attempting to gain a place in a TV reality show and the TV
producer who finally shows everyone that reality shows are not ‘real’. An
aging “rock star”, who never really was, and for whom life was only sex,
drugs, but probably the rock and roll was lost in the mix.
With so many characters in the cast, author David Young splits the book into
several mini-chapters, which keeps the continuity going, not the reverse
that you might expect.
The beauty inherent in this book lies in the way author Young manages to
combine all the characters, eventually bringing them all together for the
denouement. A clever psychological release in the end.
At B. 495 in English language bookshops, this is a hefty read (341 pages)
for your money. It is also a book that you will find you need a good long
weekend to read, even though the book only covers two and a half days in the
lives of the Khao San Road travelers.
I found this an excellent book, full of details to give the reader a good
insight into the personalities of the cast, and on the way, some minor
characters, who also produce even greater depth to the plot and the players.
Like a New Zealander called Ziegfried and a baby called Weasel. That these
disparate characters could all impinge upon the lives of each other might
look preposterous from the outside, but if you think back to your headstrong
days of youth, none of it is impossible.
Well worth picking up this book even if just for a look at your own forays
into the adult world. A psychological ‘thriller’.