Tag Archives: creative writing

I am a Cat

Last night, an old woman gently pushed my nose towards a  newspaper covered with fish bones and lemongrass. A rat ran over one of the sparkly shoes under the table full of women from The Golden Place and two of them screamed. The man who sells pens came by, so did the man with the folding rattan chair. Distracted by  the hissing of an intruder, I stepped on a hot cigarette butt. The man with the burnt face gave away perfume samples he pulled out of a new duffel bag. The monk looked into the eyes of everyone, offered his bronze bowl to a few.  I listened to happiness, drunkenness, boredom, and suspicion. Music played from little radios. Barefoot children stared at me. Now it is morning and I’m lying in the shadows of the red plastic chairs. Coins are being counted on a metal table and the man behind the Chinese newspaper is smoking and drinking coffee. When I used to live in the place with big windows I only worried about rainy days. I had no scars, no friends and both of my eyes.

Are You In a Film or In Reality?

We’re on one of the few picturesque streets in the old quarter of Johor Bahru. We see three Malaysians loading a truck with furniture that they are carrying out of a big red colonial house. Now we see a man quickly walking; he is late: BIFF DANKLE, an American with long hair that may or may not be fashionable. He pulls at it constantly; BIFF’s nervousness is obvious. He's carrying a manila envelope. BIFF approaches SIMON MURRAY and smiles respectfully. SIMON crushes his cigarette and puts his hand out. He is in his early sixties, in excellent shape, and with movie star good looks. BIFF immediately gives SIMON the envelope and sits down. The two are on a black wrought iron bench in the shade of a frangipani tree in full bloom. The weather is unpleasantly hot and humid, the sky is blue and filled with big white clouds. Strings of round Chinese lanterns hang over the street like strands of red paper pearls. SIMON reads quickly. BIFF pretends not to study SIMON’s face. BIFF again recites to himself some of the films that SIMON worked on: The Last Emperor, Life of Brian, Titanic, Distant Voices Still Lives, La Vie de Boheme, Indiana Jones... He’d seen photos on SIMON’s website; his pals like Madonna, Michael Douglas and Robert Downey Jr.. SIMON is humble, but not afraid to mention those with whom he’d enjoyed himself, famous or not. One moment SIMON might mention Sir Laurence Olivier, the next moment, nearly in tears, he'd describe the cheerful, sweet innocent face of Jimmy Wu, the bespectacled little boy with Backlington Syndrome who had hobbled six miles through a minefield in the snow in the dead of night to gaze upon the glasses that SIMON had made for Harry Potter. One moment SIMON might explain the influence his mother had upon British postwar playground design; the next he'd be describing an Oscar party he’d attended with both Playboy’s Miss January 1983 and a former Miss Texas who had “worked with Elvis”. BIFF remembered wistfully how SIMON once had effortlessly segued from a naughty casting couch story set in a Viennese penthouse to a description of his father’s meeting with Gandhi, to tips on how to get building permits in Los Angeles. SIMON knows both the dark secrets surrounding the present location of the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper costumes and the simple joy of sharing 
sewage pipe in the middle of the road “This is surreal,” SIMON says. BIFF’s heart leaps. He hadn’t thought that the script he’d risked his health and sanity for would be considered “surreal”. But if SIMON MURRAY thought it was surreal, then his script was surreal, goshdarnit! Great! Actually, BIFF’s aim was to write a mashup; something like Waiting for Godot meets Mission Impossible. One draft had been titled Waiting for the Pink Panther. “Absolutely surreal” SIMON repeats. Eventually, BIFF understands, sadly. His script is not surreal; SIMON's mind is preoccupied with Something Else....The  Meaning of Life. The Undefinable Power Which Pervades Everything Yet Cannot Be Proved. Malaysia. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.The fact that Life is unscripted, yet filled with countless scenes containing countless varieties of brutality, no matter how much we think otherwise. SIMON lights another cigarette. We hear only the sound of diners in the cafe across the little street. BIFF becomes aware of  the aroma of herbal soup. ”OK… No bulldust”, SIMON says. “Your script. Some good ideas, but... don't do  two things at once. You can’t be both opera and MTV. Ballet or gangsta rap. You must decide. Hemingway or The Bard. Whattsap. Commitment. Your  Mr. Yellow character is unbelievable; I am unclear as to whether he has Parkinson's or just a silly walk. Your script should be a ticket away from reality. It's not." SIMON looks at the truck. "I had hopes..." Suddenly SIMON  starts barking like a big basset hound; the loudness he makes is the sound of being upset and surprised yet happy. The men packing the truck stop. SIMON is amongst them immediately. He shows them how to pack properly.

Year of the Rooster things to do

(image by David Severn) The Art/VR startup idea...the time is now! The  Tiong Bahru Mouth the book , the photos, the haikus,  the videos. The Tiong Bahru Market is closing for three months at the end of February. Seems like that would be a punctuation mark of some sort. The i ate tiong bahru audiobook is now being checked by Amazon. The iatb glasses were successfully crowdfunded. So was the design for the Tiong Bahru poster. I ate Tiong Bahru, the book itself, is due for a second printing...   priest painting the skyI Ate Tiong Bahru Audiobook Really...this could go live any day!ArtReview Asia review of IATBcover of Artreview AsiaVoicemaps I have Tiong Bahru mapped out... Bali Wave Ghost After three years+ of doing the starving artist thing,it's time to work on the net net and synergize so as to secure maximum ROI.(that was written last year also, on another blog post. Have not done marketing.. no sales action.)Bali Wave Ghost in a Periplus bookstoreSPOKEN I wrote the following last year, and it has received attention, should receive more... SPOKEN needs to increase its audience...it really is an incredible piece of work :a virtual gallery built by Eugene Soh and filled with contributions from an extremely diverse collection of artists and writers. two male avatars in a very red gallery And these two projects, carry overs from last year. Hopefully by midyear, they can be picked up again...INSEIN Last year, I  spent almost ten days in Yangon. I created images with a digital camera. I would like to exhibit them and create a book.The images use Yangon as a starting point...airline map sing to RangoonI Ate LaPhet Thoke Conceptual art meets culinary research. A booklet co-created with Sayuri Okayama.IMG_3604 la phet thoke in styrofoam w Joe 19th stBeach Road This 360VR movie will hopefully continue to attract viewers. 360 video still from Beach Road Towards a New Cinematography, the book, has been plodding along. I hope it will plod faster.AND I WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH MY MOM AND DAD AND BROTHER AND DAUGHTER!

Tiong Bahru Mouth

This post documents progress on Tiong Bahru Mouth, which is a collection of short stories and a visual art project, both by Stephen Black. Visual art, in this case, means photographs, videos and 360 videos. There is also a haiku component which is hidden on the internet. PHOTOGRAPHS http://www.blacksteps.tv/tiong-bahru-mouth-images/ VIDEOS Coffee and Light Tiong Bahru Mouth Wakes Up Jian Boh Shui Kueh at Sunrise Tiong Bahru Teochew Kueh Tiong Bahru Teochew Kueh glutinous rice packing Galicier Counter at CNY Two Friends in a Hardware Shop A Couple Descending  

Self-Publishing: An Insult To The Written Word (my comments in red)

To: Laurie Gogh, traditionally published author of several books, including Kite Strings of the Southern Cross: A Woman's Travel Odyssey

  Fm: Artist/VR producer  Stephen Black, self-published author, including the bestseller i ate tiong bahru.(2000 paperback copies sold, with no media coverage nor advertising) Re: Your recent submission to the Huffington Post   Dear Ms. Gogh, Thank you for your submission to the Huffington Post. We at the Huffington Post are aware of, and truly appreciate, the time and effort it takes to write an outstanding essay. We sincerely hope the following notes from one of our  editors will assist you on your journey towards becoming an outstanding writer. All the best to you. Sincerely, Submissions Desk at the Huffington Post  (JUST KIDDING.) Self-Publishing: An Insult to the Written Word Laurie, Fantastic title! Clickbait yet literary!
As a published author, people often ask me why I don’t self-publish. “Surely you’d make more money if you got to keep most of the profits rather than the publisher,” they say. Laurie, wonderful opening paragraph. A few things: a. add sales figures. Can't go wrong with sales figures.   b. your awards. Can you weave these in, in a punchy way? c. how about "Surely you'd make much more money or...much, much more money..."😉 And hey, just between you and me... haven't you considered self-publishing? What do you make per book? Forty, fifty cents? Do publishers still line up promotional tours these days?How's your backlist moving?  
I’d rather share a cabin on a Disney cruise with Donald Trump than self-publish. Can I try to arrange that?  Ha ha! Actually it is a great line. Can you open with it? However, you'd have to come up with a follow up paragraph that would outline why you cannot see yourself in the world of self-publishing.
To get a book published in the traditional way, and for people to actually respect it and want to read it(Can we rethink this? must we associate the word "respect" with traditional publishing?  +... want to read--or want to buy? 🙂 — you have to go through the gatekeepers of agents, publishers, editors, national and international reviewers. Laurie, let's make this really work for us: can you make it personal and mention your editors' names?..and OOPS! Your sentence begins with "to get a book published... you have to go through agents, blablabla national and international reviewers". Reviewers aren't necessary to to get a book published, are they? Don't reviewers add value AFTER a book is finished? Remember, Laurie, we have to be clear and exact...we're not self-publishers, are we? lol These gatekeepers are assessing whether or not your work is any good. BLEH! Gatekeepers assure readers of quality. Something like that. Readers expect books to have passed through all the gates(repetitious), to be vetted by professionals. Just like Fifty Shades and Wool and all of those wonderful books by Joe Konrath, who has sold millions. This system doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it’s the best system we have. Laurie, let's rethink those last two lines. Readers don't expect those things, though the world would be a better place if more readers did. For now, we will feign ignorance of excellent services like Reedsy.
Good writers only become good because they’ve undertaken an apprenticeship. Yes! The craft of writing is a life’s work. Yes!It takes at least a decade to become a decent writer, tens of thousands of hours. Your favorite authors might have spent years writing works that were rejected. But if a writer is serious about her craft, she’ll keep working at it, year after year.Yes! At the end of her self-imposed(move this 'self-imposed' up so that it modifies the first 'apprenticeship') apprenticeship, she’ll be relieved that her first works were rejected because only now(rethink your use of tense here!) can she see how bad they were. Laurie, isn't it also possible for self-publishers to have their work rejected, in many ways? If an honest friend or a teacher who was a serious reader told you that your book was unreadable, would that be better or worse than an unsigned rejection form letter from the office of an agent or publisher?
Did you ever hear what Margaret Atwood said at a party to a brain surgeon? Rewrite, does not sound literary. At. all. When the brain surgeon found out what she did for a living, he said, “Oh, you’re a writer! When I retire I’m going to write a book.” Margaret Atwood said coolly replied, “Great! When I retire I’m going to be a brain surgeon!”An anecdote Laurie, well done!
The irony is that now that brain surgeon really could dash off a “book” in a of couple months, click “publish” on a Amazon, and he’s off signing books at the bookstore. Laurie, can we link to where Amazon provides this service?  lol Just like Margaret Atwood, he’s a “published” author. Who cares if his book is something that his grade nine teacher might have wanted to crumple into the trash? It’s a “published” book. Laurie, perhaps we can give this a little rethink? I think I read that most self-published books sell much less than a 100 copies. I doubt a bookstore would automatically share their valuable resources with just anyone, self-published or traditional. So, it might seem that a popular author such as yourself is uninformed and writing with an ink made from sour grapes. And, when something is badly written, do we toss/throw/dump it into the trash or do we crumple it and then throw it into the trash? And, what do we do if the amateurish writing is digital, like an ebook or an online article?
The problem with self-publishing is that it requires zero gatekeepers. From what I’ve seen of it, self-publishing is an insult to the written word, the craft of writing, and the tradition of literature. As an editor, I’ve tackled trying to edit the very worst writing that people plan on self-publishing just because they can. Wow... that last line may not technically be a run on...but it ain't no dancer! And Laurie, dear, are all traditionally published books worthy of the tradition of literature? Dangerous waters here! And,what percentage of self-published books have you read? Aren't there also gatekeepers in self-publishing; that is curators? Or even Goodreads! Only an idiot would pick up ANY book without doing any sort of checking, regardless of how it was published. And, historically, there have been some noteworthy self-published works. I certainly know what you mean about editing bad writing.
I’m a horrible singer. But I like singing so let’s say I decide to take some singing lessons. A month later I go to my neighbor’s basement because he has recording equipment. I screech into his microphone and he cuts me a CD. I hire a designer to make a stylish CD cover. Voilà. I have a CD and am now just like all the other musicians with CDs.
Except I’m not. Everyone knows I’m a tuneless clod but something about that CD validates me as a musician.(Does "something" about that object truly validate you? And, the example of you screeching/recording a CD feels like an unnecessary repetition of the doctor story above. Pick one.) It’s the same with writers who self-publish. Literally anyone can do it, including a seven-year-old I know who is a “published” author because her teacher got the entire class to write stories and publish them on Amazon. It’s cute, but when adults do it, maybe not so cute. With the firestorm of self-published books unleashed on the world, I fear that writing itself is becoming devalued. Gosh, Laurie, I agree with you. But so far, your piece isn't realizing its full potential and could come across as an unresearched rant. Can you spend some time going through some bestselling self-published books and then tear them apart? It'll be a breeze and make for a better, strong essay. Grrrr.. you go girl! Devalued writing is not for us!
I have nothing against people who want to self-publish, especially if they’re elderly. Thank you for that! Me too! Perhaps they want to write their life story and have no time to learn how to write well enough to be published traditionally. Laurie, just say that they are going to die soon! Death adds drama! Make this piece come alive!  It makes a great gift for their grandchildren. But self-publishing needs to be labelled as such.Memo to self: get Amazon to create a category for people who quickly write and self-publish books before they die but do not have the time to become great writers like Laurie. The only similarity between published and self-published books is they each have words on pages inside a cover. Rewrite. Clunky. Maybe something like: Self-published and published books share one thing: words on pages between covers. Or something like that. Laurie, you're the wordsmith:) Oh... we should say "traditionally" published. The similarities end there. And every single self-published book I’ve tried to read has shown me exactly(not approximately? lol) why the person had to resort to self-publishing. These people haven’t taken the decade, or, in many cases, even six months(I believe the correct amount of time should be six months 18 days. lol), to learn the very basics of writing, such as ‘show, don’t tell,’ or how to create a scene, or that clichés not only kill writing but bludgeon it with a sledgehammer.cliché in  a sentence that is 40+ words long. Intentional, right? Sometimes they don’t even know grammar.
Author Brad Thor (what has he written?) agrees: “The important role that publishers fill is to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you’re a good writer and have a great book you should be able to get a publishing contract.” Laurie, can we give that quote a rethink? Not only is it bland and kinda wrong, but the cliché police are on their way...lol)
Author Sue Grafton ( she wrote...what?) said, “To me, it seems disrespectful...that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy and s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. ... Self-publishing is a short cut(Hey Laurie, FWIW, my books usually take close to three years to write and research, at least two months of that time winning and losing battles against the world champion editor Vikki Weston) and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall.” Laurie, if you want to criticize self-publishing, again I suggest a better strategy is for us to pick apart some of the self-published bestsellers that have sold, for whatever reason, tens or hundreds of thousands of copies, like your books have. These quotes you've chosen have nothing to do with your opening which is about economics and why you don't self-publish. And, please, do some research...with an open mind.
Writing is hard work, but the act of writing can also be thrilling, enriching your life beyond reason when you know you’re finally nailing a certain feeling with the perfect verb. 31words, all "beyond reason" and smooth as buttahhh lol It might take a long time to find that perfect verb.(it might never happen and you end up making a clumsy sentence that is a weird present/future continuous perfect tense) But that’s how art works. Writing is an art deserving our esteem. (Writing is an artform that deserves our respect. Writing is an art form that should be held in high esteem. Ya wanna wrestle? lol) It shouldn’t be something that you can take up as a hobby one afternoon and a month later, key in your credit card number to CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing before sitting back waiting for a stack of books to arrive at your door...before being taken down to the bookstore for a signing and massive sales by sheep/buyers who do not recognize works of literary merit. lol. That sentence is 40 words long, clumsy and repetitious. Laurie, we get it, we get it: the doctor can self-publish, the seven year old can self-publish it, anyone with a credit card can self-publish....EDIT
Let’s all give the written word the respect it deserves. Laurie, not a bad closing, but I am still left hanging by the question posed in your opening: why don't you self publish? Surely you could afford an editor and no longer need to fear gatekeepers? Please rethink this entire piece and give it the work it requires. Get rid of the repetition and, remember, facts speak volumes. Your opener suggests that self-publishers make more money than traditionally published authors--and you never touch this important aspect again. I'm afraid I can't run this piece as it is; feels too much like an "intelligent" rant by a wine-fortified semipro blogger. Good luck!
I do not know why my post looks fine when I write them, but have spacing problems when I publish them...

Tiong Bahru Time by Stephen Black

  1. This will be a book of photographs, facts, history and stories about  the people, food and community of Tiong Bahru and the surrounding area.
  2. Please note that  Tiong Bahru Time is  a working title that may or may not be used. However, the idea of time is definitely the foundation of the book. Examples: breakfast time, lunch time, Hungry Ghost Month, the Monkey God's Birthday, the pre-war flats, the post-war flats, daytime, nighttime, the seasons, 24 hours in Tiong Bahru, childhood, adulthood, The Sixties,etc.
  3.  The photographs and text will be mainly by Stephen Black, whose previous book on Tiong Bahru, i ate tiong bahru, is a national bestseller. Stephen Black holds Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology and his works have been shown in galleries and museums worldwide. He has worked at various roles for companies such as CNN, Cartoon Network, Fuji TV, Fox and France 2. His 360 short film entitled Beach Road was featured at the 2015 Brisbane Film Festival and nominated for Best Experimental Film at the 2016 Las Vegas VR Fest. Elsewhere on this blog are posts about his involvement with music, CG-generated environments and other artists.
  4. At this time the total number of pages will likely be about 200 pages; size not yet determined.

Deepavali at Galicier (the second of a two part excerpt from i ate tiong bahru)

Hi! The first part of this post is here.

Gula melakka is easy to melt and difficult to burn. It’s in many of Galicier’s treats: steamed tapioca, putu mayu, onden onden, kaya jam, ongol ongol and, of course, huat kueh. Gula melakka is used in breads and cookies as well, but its taste can become subdued when used with yeast. Potassium, iron, nitrogen, zinc, selenium and other minerals are all found in gula melakka. It’s the only plant-generated source of B12, which is necessary for red blood cells and a healthy nervous system. Yes!

After getting Soh Kee Soon’s approval, I pick up a few shavings. Gula melakka is softly crystalline, like fine moist sand. Almost gooey. On my tongue, the shavings become a sweetly wholesome syrup.

Customers walking into Galicier are greeted by shelves full of macaroons, containers of kaya jam, lady fingers and at least five kinds of breads. Cakes: Black Forest, chocolate, mango, pumpkin and more. Here and there traditional bamboo containers are used as decorations. On a table, a small wall made of plastic tubs full of cookies of all kinds. Almond combinations abound: coffee almond, cinnamon almond, chocolate almond, green tea almond and more. Like any Peranakan bakery, Galicier has pineapple tarts.

Power 98 reports that the thunderstorms will continue all afternoon, then wishes everyone a Happy Dewali before playing a Guns N’ Roses song. The rainy national holiday seems like any other day. The flow of customers has been steady. Most walk in, but a few park on Tiong Bahru Road, turn on their blinking hazard lights and run in to order.

Speaking in English, a woman tells her two children about the photo of Tan Lok Wee. The woman’s father used to take her there. Jenny, speaking in Teochew, had told the woman the Tan Lok Wee/Galicier story. The woman is excited and emotional. The kids are bored.

Jenny says this sort of thing happens all the time.

Next door, on the corner, is the Prata Paradise. A few doors away on the other side is The French Bookshop. At night, on the other end of the block, the packed tables of Sin Hoi San clog the passageway. Sin Hoi San specializes in seafood. From inside their bubbling tanks, risks of lobsters, casts of crabs and porns6 of geoducks intimidate those waiting at the bus stop.

Most evenings the manager, Cheong Seck Wee, weaves his motorbike through the tables and begins cruising through the streets of Tiong Bahru. His ride is covered with lights, decals and flags. When I lived on the third floor of Moh Guan, I’d watch him from the window. Classic Chinese ballads softly played from speakers on his glowing, blinking motorbike. He rode slowly, like the lost ghost of a parade.

Next to Sin Hoi San is a provision shop, a time capsule from the days when customers bought 20 kilo bags of rice. Now, in the age of supermarkets and 7-11s, the shop sells small things like canned drinks, instant noodles, fruits and bread. A few times a year, there will be baskets of green spiky durians in front. The uncle will sit beside his weathered stand with a knife and gloves nearby.

“Galicier is stuck in the Seventies,” says a newspaper clipping on the wall. I would disagree. Galicier is as timeless as gula melakka, pure water, honey or bread.

(i ate tiong bahru is available on Amazon)

Flame Magnet

Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.
M. C. Escher (supposedly), posted on The Dude's Facebook page  Thank you for having the courage to buy Flame Magnet. Ultimately, you will receive at least 12 stories, all for free. Flame Magnet is an experiment, a new way of using Amazon and recognition of the fact that an electronic book can be a flowing, shifting thing. Flame Magnet also acknowledges the power of algorithms, gaming strategies and word of mouth sharing/advertising. You have paid 99 cents for an empty shell. A year from now, your shell will be full of at least twelve stories and Amazon will be selling Flame Magnet for $5.99 or $12.99 or $34.99. I will, as soon as possible, email you a version of Flame Magnet that contains five stories. The stories are: Lipstick and Snow, Lorong 16, Deepavali at Gallicier and  Ronnie and the Burns. The other two stories will remain a mystery, but here a couple of hints: Motown and Bali. Lipstick and Snow was featured in the premiere issue of Staple magazine, Lorong 16 is a dystopian dark comedy set in the Geylang district of Singapore and Ronnie and the Burns is a documentary about Ronnie See, the leader of the first rock band in Singapore. Deepavali at Gallicier  first appeared in the bestselling book i ate tiong bahru. The story documents one day at a traditional Peranakan bakery in Singapore and is one that I have received the most comments upon.     Ultimately, there will be at least a dozen short stories in Flame Magnet. The stories will be about James Brown, Singapore National Day in Plain Vanilla, 3how, Verrie Larch, Deepavali at Gallicier Peranakan Pastry Shop, Mom's Farm in Bali, a little bar in Tokyo on a wintry morning, Singapore's First Rock Band, Secrets of You Tiaow  and much more. In short, your 99 cents is an entry into a literary project that will grow with time. Your "investment" will increase, as every time I add a new story to the Flame Magnet ebook file, you will receive it, at no extra charge Let me repeat this  another way. You have bought a subscription. As soon as I have your email, I will send you the latest version of Flame Magnet. You will get 3 or 4 files in the next six months. The last file sent to you will have at least twelve stories. Again, there is no extra charge, even though the completed ebook version of Flame Magnet will sell for almost twelve dollars! Thanks for being so bold and open-minded. Welcome to the Flame Magnet adventure!     (Oh yes... I should say that I am extremely excited about the stories in Flame Magnet. They are very different from my Bali Wave Ghost novel and i ate tiong bahru, which became a national bestseller in Singapore. Oh yes again...as I write this, there are about 20 days left in my crowdfunding campaign. I have already exceeded my goal, but there are still a number of rewards left.  

The Oak Bar

Hey everybody! Russell, Pavle, Xu Xi and Bernard! I'd like to introduce you to O'Brien Brown and Carl Adams! I've written about them elsewhere on this blog. Carl wrote about the first slave freed by Abraham Lincoln, a woman named Nance. O'Brien wrote coming of age story set in the Sixties. So, do poke around on the links and enjoy your selves! The next round is on O'Brien Brown! .....Oh yeah! My crowdfunding campaign reached 130% in the first three days! But yeah, there are still some great rewards left!http://www.zingohub.com/en-GBL/stephenblack/i-ate-tiong-bahru-limited-glassware-edition...... (first post on the blog follows...)I like to introduce people. My hope is that some of the people here will look at some at some of the links of the others, possibly interact, as well as  introduce other people to "drink with". Pavle Radonic... Fresh toddy in JB, a bottle of the good stuff at Vic's... Here is the bio used in the text and photo project we did together: A Melbourne, Australia writer of Montenegrin heritage, Pavle Radonic has been living and writing intensively in the South-East Asian tropics for five years. Oddly and unexpectedly, in this time he has become a kind of minor Malay Archipelago specialist, at least from the Western perspective. Pavle has divided his time between peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia (Jakarta & Jogja in particular). In Australia his writing has been  published in a range of literary journals and magazines; more recently his work from this region has appeared in Ambit Magazine (UK), Big Bridge (US) and The Literary Yard (India), among others. A literary miscellany more than blog can be found at: www.axialmelbourne.blogspot.com   Xu Xi... Yes, we have had a few drinks together; Hong Kong, Manhattan and Singapore. Her latest novel is called The Man in Our Lives. The Jakarta Post did this very thorough interview with her. Russel Darnley... We drank coffee in the Tiong Bahru Mouth! I'm hoping we can exchange words about our books...his, called Seen and Unseen, includes a chapter on the Bali Bombing, the event which, tragically, launched the career of Mr. Orgasm Donor, a character in my novel entitled Bali Wave Ghost. Russel, fluent in Indonesian, did volunteer work immediately after the Bombing and the notes he began taking at that time became the first steps towards Seen and Unseen. Bernard Jann... At  least once, Bernard probably had a glass near his computer in Europe and I probably had a glass near my computer in Asia. So there ya go. Bernard's website is here. He once helped me research some Croatian oldies:
.....................cheers! SB...................

The Japanese Photographer in Bali Wave Ghost

In my latest novel, Bali Wave Ghost, there is a character named Kuroyama, who lives directly above the main character, Odie (Mr. Orgasm Donor). Kuroyama is a fictitious character, but one based on my research, life experiences and time-spent-viewing-the-works of photographers like Daido Moriyama, Eikoh Hosoe andAraki, My first introduction to the world of Japanese photography was a book called New Japanese Photography, which was published in conjunction with an exhibition at MOMA in 1974. I imagined what it might be like if an established  Japanese photographer in his "golden years" moved to Bali... an excerpt is below. ............... -the image used as the header was created in Ubud, Bali as part of a collaboration between Stephen Black and Mee-Young Arkim. There are several posts on this blog describing the photographic intentions of the project. Here is the first. -an exhibition by Daido Moriyama is currently being presented as part of the Singapore International Photography Festival -FWIW, in Tokyo I ran SPP, an art space with Barae, a dance/performance artist who occasionally modeled for Araki. Here is the beginning of one chapter from Bali Wave Ghost...

A LAZY MAN DOES NOT SIN

On our bed, an open book. A two-page black and white photo of a naked, hairless Japanese young man in an office. His body is covered with white powder and his head is stretched so far back that the smooth, eyeless surface of his throat is where his face should be. His hands are arthritic. Like a praying mantis pinned to a desk, his body screams at a fluorescent light.

Two hours ago there was a knock on the window. ”Herro. Here I am Kuroyama.” I put on my pants and opened the door. Kuroyama looked like a lost tourist who’d just been shopping. “Do you know butoh?” he asked in his deep voice.

Butoh lives upstairs, I think.”

Kuroyama gave me the crisp white bag he’d been holding. “Butoh is art of death with agitation spirit. Please enjoy with relax feeling.” He smiled. I looked at the sky and discretely pinched myself. Kuroyama lit a cigarette and brought it to his big teeth. “Dance of reaction to human darkness. Also, please be sharing with Miss Francesca.” He smiled again, and nodded with the seriousness of a bow. “Sanku you.” He went upstairs.

It has been quiet since then.

I have a feeling Kuroyama is now directly above me, looking at the same book, the same images, at the same time.

Another black and white image. Grainy. Another Japanese body. Lips, cheekbones, nose. Throat. Her eyes are white dust and her breasts are in rags. Arching against, kicking against a dark wooden floor. Serene yet terrifying, like a long-killed mermaid. Her hair is Fukushima.

...................

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