Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Book Report Day

I've lost two consecutive nights sleep lately, and frankly I don't mind so much. Recently, I asked for book suggestions to fill in my meagre background of immediate post war Southeast Asia. I received two great suggestions that I want to pass on. Thank you ADG and ignorance arbitrage for your suggestions. I didn't need the sleep anyway.

The Golden Boy, by Martin Booth
Martin Booth was the 8 year old son of a low level British naval employee who was sent to Hong Kong in 1952. The Golden Boy is a memoir written to his children shortly before his death. of his 3 years there. In many respects he had a horrific childhood, as his father was a drunken martinet more concerned with appearances than his family. His mother and he loved Hong Kong, and had many adventures in and around the community trying desperately to keep out of his father's way. Father accused them of going native.

Typically the English rulers never saw, or got to know the city. A young boy, who secretly learned Chinese and his daring mother did. Theirs is a Hong Kong which probably no longer exists but for several years it was heaven.

Incidentally, after returning to Britain in 1955, at the end of dad's tour, they returned to Hong Kong for good in 1958. That was probably a better story, but one Mr. Booth did not live to tell.

The Great Fire: by Shirley HazzardThe Great Fire is story of the forbidden love of a thirty something year old English war hero with the teen aged daughter of a tyrannical Australian medical administrator in occupied Japan.

While our hero struggles to do the right thing, love keeps dragging him closer to destruction. With 20 pages to go, and sunlight rising I couldn't figure out how it would end gracefully.

I'm not much of a novel reader, but this pushed all the right buttons.

So I'm still searching. If you have any recommendations novel, biography or history of the returning expats to Southeast Asia immediately following the end of WWII, please let me know.



ADG said...

Toad...There are only a few books that I ever re-read. I'm gonna read Booth's book again. I liked his book on the Opium trade as well.

Now reading another literary bio. Flannery O'Connor. Amazing talent...died at 39 of lupus.

ignorance arbitrage said...

I'm glad you are enjoying the Hazzard (per my recommendation? If so, I'm flattered).

Kathleen said...

Just put both books in my Amazon cart!

Toad said...

Kathleen, pleae do not start them at 9pm.