PATPONG SISTERS

AN AMERICAN WOMAN'S VIEW OF THE BANGKOK SEX WORLD

An ex-hippie falls into a gap between the personal and the political in this grimly fascinating yet fatally flawed debut. Odzer, a graduate student in anthropology, was onto something when she came up with the idea of chronicling the lives of women working in Bangkok's red-light district. Their strange naãvetÇ set against a background of bars showing live sex acts (and some, like a ``blow job bar'' that Odzer visits, openly offering paid sexual services) is an intriguing subject. Odzer proves herself a good interviewer and a thorough researcher. Her trips to the poor northern Thailand homes of some of her subjects are heartbreaking: With their ``fine'' clothes and liberated attitudes, the sex workers are seen as glamorous heroes. (Odzer quotes an anecdote about a schoolgirl who praised a teacher with the unlikely compliment, ``You look as pretty as a whore today.'') Odzer's examination of the confluence of money and sex is shrewd, but when she herself becomes involved with a tout (pimp) named Jek, her analytical abilities fly out the window. It's hard to keep a straight face while she coos over receiving a ``McDonald's french fry keyring'' as a gift from her paramour and then becomes disillusioned when he gives an identical one to an acquaintance. And when, immediately after they have engaged in unprotected sex, she is shocked to learn that Jek sometimes sleeps with prostitutes, it is hard to know whether to be horrified or stupefied by her. Clear-eyed about the farang (foreign) men who avail themselves of Bangkok's sex trade and the strange relationships they often develop, mistaking bought sex for love, Odzer is blind to the similar, mutual exploitation in her own relationship. Odzer seems to want sisterhood to be powerful—but what she really aspires to are the privileges of farang men. (40 b&w photos, not seen; 1 map, 7 diagrams) (Book-of-the-Month Club selection)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 1-55970-281-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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