Tuesday, January 1, 2008

An HONEST Assesment of ECHO POOL

I received this email this week regarding my novel ECHO POOL. I have been getting more responses lately and will begin publishing many of them. Please SEND ME FEEDBACK, good or bad, because at least I know its alive out there! I'd also love to publish a photo of you with your review if you could think to send one along. This one comes from Malaysia.

Hi Jonathon,
To quote a line from the movie 40 days and 40 nights: “Dude, you are action packed with issues.”
But then again, who isn’t?
I thoroughly enjoyed your book. I felt it started off a bit slow, but the more the book progressed, the more you came into your writing element. The combination of hilarious situations with personal flashbacks made it a great read. Knowing you a bit, I had a fictitious non-fiction sensation the whole time I held the book in my hands.
Growing up in a fairly liberal European country where Catholicism is dramatically losing its influence on the general population, hearing stories of the American Bible belt has always fascinated me. The few attempts you had with your parents as an agnostic, or better said a critical thinker, to discuss certain aspects of Christianity must have been for both parties equally frustrating. People are afraid to chat about anything that might upset there daily routine or what has defined their whole life. Insecurity isn’t a trait humans cope well. Nonetheless, I never felt either of your parents gave you a religious overload (correct me if I’m wrong).
My father has never played a role in my life. The decisions he had to make in bars or pubs (straight or on the rocks) where much more significant to him than his son. That neglect has shaped me into who I am today, with all the positive and negative characteristics. Reading your book, I felt extremely envious of you. I’ve spent plenty of time analyzing my psyche and perfectly know what I really seek. Actually implementing that self reflecting knowledge is another story though. If I can say one day I was half the person your father was, I will be extremely pleased. I would’ve loved having a father like you had. I’m crying while I’m writing this, as I was when I read the last few paragraphs of “Echo Pool”.
I remember once sitting at an open air food court with an American friend of mine in Bangkok. We were enjoying the delicious Thai food accompanied with a few drinks talking about our plans of our upcoming visit to Vietnam. Drinks were being served by lovely Heineken waitresses. Suddenly, a few Dutch graduate students asked us if we wanted to participate in a survey. Basically, they were doing research on what they called the degrading working conditions many Thai girls have to work in. While I read the questions, I got frustrated by how western centric they were. They never realized that what these girls were doing at the open air food delight was a highly sought after job for many Thai women. Too often, westerners try to implement their values and norms on different cultures. But who says they are right? Who says they are wrong? What I’m ultimately trying to point out is that this book needs to be read with an open mind, trying to take in Thai customs and realities. A fervent feminist would probably be appalled by certain aspects of your book. Having lived in Thailand for 3.5 years, I was able to understand many of the cultural baggage you brought up. I personally believe you did a good job trying to explain in a literary manner what the Thai psyche is about.
Yeah you were right in your descriptions, I forgot her real name, but Arraya was hot. Superficially, any normal man would have you declared insane. Sensibly, you made the right decision, although I would’ve handled it differently. The lack of interesting and deep conversations was one of the reasons why I eventually left the country. Beauty rocks your world at first, but any earthquake subsides shortly after. Shallowness in a serious relationship doesn’t last unless selfishness is what one seeks. The defining picture of your parents is that they grew from passionate lovers to friends for life. That blend allowed their marriage to blossom and turn into an out of this world recipe. Any educated individual is going to look for that ultimate goal. Research has already pointed out that relationships with educated women/men have more chances of survival. I’m too arrogant and curious to let my life being dictated by a sex queen. Mind blowing orgasms aren’t the same as waking up next to an extraordinary woman.
How is “Golf” doing? Whatever happened to Arraya? Did your mate ever come back to Thailand after the German diplomatic disaster? In my opinion, that individual did not represent his country in a mature diplomatic manner. God complex perhaps?
I just came back from a 3 week cycling trip around Laos. The long break did me good to sort of put everything in perspective of what has happened over the last year-and-a-half in Malaysia. Culturally and personally it has been an amazing experience, but it’s time to leave. Next Friday, I’m moving to Vietnam for at least one year. Honestly, I’m a bit South East Asianed out, but the money is good in Vietnam. All I care about at the moment is saving up so that I can do my masters. I’m wondering if perhaps I want to return to an individualistic society. Australia has a certain appeal. Great outdoor activities, fantastic weather, the west… Wait and see I guess.
KRISTOF IS IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS, he tells me he is the good looking one. He is a competitive tri-athlete and in the kind of shape that makes the rest of us keep our jackets on if you know what I mean.