In her debut collection of nonfiction stories. Mallet reminisces about colorful characters in Bangkok.
Each of Mallet’s stories centers on a particular place or character and resembles a meandering walk down memory lane, with all the disjointed organization, informal chattiness and embellished description that entails. Mallet is fascinated by the bar-girl culture of Bangkok’s red-light district, and she writes about pursuing friendships and love affairs with its workers and patrons. Some of these characters recur in multiple stories, but many make one-time appearances before disappearing into the city’s bustling, sexually charged environment. Mallet writes about Vichai, a man who writes and translates letters for sex workers to send to their foreign sugar daddies, and about Lance, a well-endowed British traveler and frequent customer at red-light district bars, among many other characters. (Curiously, Mallet also includes an incongruous, perplexing five-part chapter detailing Bruce Lee’s biography.) For the most part, however, Mallet provides a personal portrait of Bangkok: the people she met, the places she visited and the sex she had. She has a knack for depicting unexpected, joyful, and sometimes strange moments. Mallet portrays herself in this collection as a worldly and adventurous connoisseur of the erotic, often comparing herself to the lead character in the French soft-core film Emmanuelle. Throughout these stories, she delivers a host of euphemisms for genitalia, lengthy descriptions of male anatomy, accounts of Bangkok’s subterranean world of crime and her opinions on the many ways that men and women differ from one another.
An intriguing but scattered collection.