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Bangkok Books Travel

Newley.com in the new Lonely Planet: Thailand

Lonely Planet Thailand

Newley.com has earned a mention in the new Lonely Planet Thailand guide book. This humble blog is listed under the heading “The Inside Scoop,” on page 107. It’s part of a round-up of “informative or entertaining” Thailand blogs.

And in the Sights section of the Bangkok chapter, on page 139, you’ll also find a brief interview with yours truly and my Thai teacher, Khun Ju, about foreigners learning Thai. (The Bangkok chapter and other parts of the LP were written by Bangkok-based foodie photog Austin Bush, who — I can tell you from personal experience — knows Thailand very, very well. And I’m not just saying that.)

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Books Life

Ha Jin, Intellectual Badass and Really Nice Guy

I took a few poetry classes* with Chinese-American novelist Xuefei Jin when he taught at my college**. (And he even wrote me a gradudate school recommendation letter.) He had yet to become a literary big shot when I met him — a couple years after I graduated, he won the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner prize for “Waiting,” a novel set in China. His most recent novel, “War Trash,” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

I met up with Jin again a few years back at a book signing for “Waiting” here in DC; he is humble, friendly, and a genuinely nice guy. (His personal story is an interesting one, too: he was born in China and served in the army during the Cultural Revolution; he later emigrated to the US and earned his Ph.D. in English.)

All of that by way of saying that I was thrilled to see that Jin has been included on Foreign Policy/Prospect magazine’s list of the world’d Top 100 Public Intellectuals.

*Jin began his writing career as a poet; one time, when we discussing a poem by an author we were studying in our modern American poetry class, he said, “if I could one day write a poem as good as this, I would die a happy man.” I wonder if, had someone told him then that he’d go on to achieve such literary acclaim, he’d have believed them.

**I never in a million years, as a twenty-year-old college kid, would have thought I’d one day live across the Taiwan Straight from Jin’s homeland.

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Books Life

New Truman Capote Biopic

A new Truman Capote biopic is opening on September 30th. The film tells the story of Capote investigating and writing the classic “non-fiction novel” In Cold Blood. The movie’s called “Capote,” and the trailer is promising. Philip Seymour Hoffman will play TC, and the movie also features the excellent Catherine Keener and Chris Cooper.

Capote is one of my favorite writers. He wrote stunning prose and he lived an out-sized life, once allegedly proclaiming “I am three things: An alcoholic, a homosexual, and a genius.”

His first novel, Other Voices Other Rooms, which he published at age 24, contains passages so eloquent that, if you have a single sensitive bone in your body, may well make you weep.

Such as:

The brain may take advice, but not the heart, and love having no geography, knows no boundaries: weight and sink it deep, no matter, it will rise and find the surface: and why not? any love is natural and beautiful that lies within a person’s nature; only hyprocrites would hold a man responsible for what he loves, emotional illiterates and those of righteous envy, who, in their agitated concern, mistake so frequently the arrow pointing to heaven for the one that leads to hell.

Capote