Thursday, March 25, 2010

Timothy Hallinan

Author J. Sydney Jones interviewed Timothy Hallinan about his Poke Rafferty Bangkok thrillers. Part of the Q & A:

What things about Bangkok make it unique and a good physical setting in your books?

Those are really at least two different questions. The most striking thing about Bangkok is that it’s the most cheerful big city in the world. It’s bigger physically than New York and more cheerful than Smallville. The Thai people are the world’s most welcoming, even now when foreigners are no longer the novelty they were in 1981, when waiters would sit down at my table to try out their English. (They also couldn’t believe that I’d willingly eat alone, since Thai people never do anything alone if they can help it. They wanted to keep me company.)

Beyond the good cheer, Bangkok is a city of enormous contrast. It’s heartbreakingly poor and breathtakingly rich. It’s carnal, with more red-light districts than anywhere I can think of, and deeply spiritual, with giant temples and small street shrines everywhere. (Many taxis have an abstract of Buddha-spirit handpainted on the ceiling above the driver.) You’ll walk down some deafening street and turn into a small street (or “soi”) and it’ll be lined with open-air shops where men are beating tiny pieces of gold into gold leaf for the faithful, who rub it onto the statues of the Buddha. All the Buddhas in the big temples are gilded, even the backs, which no one usually sees; the Thais say that doing good deeds secretly is “Gilding the Buddha’s back.”

Finally, Bangkok is, as Maugham said of Monaco, a...[read on]
Also see: Brett Battles interviews Timothy Hallinan.

The Page 69 Test: A Nail Through the Heart.

The Page 69 Test: The Fourth Watcher.

My Book, The Movie: The Fourth Watcher.

The Page 69 Test: Breathing Water.

Visit Timothy Hallinan's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue