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I don’t come here anymore July 2, 2007

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I have moved this blog to a new site. Please go to www.prabdayoon.wordpress.com instead. See you there.

Japan Again June 27, 2007

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I will be in Tokyo from this Friday (June 29). There will be some talks and a small exhibition of my drawings in Sendai. The first talk will be at the Cinemart Theater in Roppongi, on June 30 (I think you have to make a reservation for this event). The second talk will be at the University of Foreign Studies, on June 6. And the third will be at Book246 in Aoyama, on June 7. For those of you who read Japanese, you can check out my more detailed schedule at www.wildwitness.com

I’ve never been to Sendai before, so I’m excited about that.

See you!

Tombstone Blues June 22, 2007

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Confession of a Bookstore Junkie June 6, 2007

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I am a bookstore junkie. I go to bookstores almost daily. I don’t have to go. I’ve got enough books at home to keep me busy for a long, long time. But I go. And I go like a mad man who’s afraid that maybe gigantic meteorites will drop by tomorrow and there won’t be any chance to visit bookstores or buy books ever again. So I go and I love to spend at least one hour at each store, even if it’s a place where I know exactly what books are there and where every one of them is. I pretend not to know. People work on most days and when they get a holiday they like to go to a different place to relax or to have fun. I go to bookstores on work days and weekends, and when I get a holiday I also go to bookstores. No question about it: junkie.

One time, when I arrived in Tokyo too early in the morning to check in at a hotel, I went straight from Narita to a bookstore in Shibuya. I stayed there until check-in time. I go to bookstores when I am in a good mood. I go when I am in a bad mood. I go.

My apartment looks like a small bookstore. (Indeed, I think I have more books than some small bookstores!) Still I am not content. I have to go to actual bookstores. I have to “keep it real.”

In big cities with lots of good bookstores it’s more difficult to manage. Too many bookstores, too little time. In Bangkok it’s relatively easy. And I think it’s healthier, for a junkie like me at least, to be in a place like Bangkok, where there are so few options that even I sometimes get sick of going to the same places too often. I would ask myself philosophically, “why am I here?” Why am I in this bookstore again? I was just here yesterday. Or, I was just here this morning! What is wrong with you (me)? Why don’t you (I) go home? You (I) already have this book. You (I) have looked at this one many, many times. Go home!

Now I am in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Shit! It’s a small town, yes, but in terms of the “stuff” it’s a small gold mine. Sadly, Wordsworth, once one of the greatest small bookstores on my list, went out of business a while back. That was my usual hang-out joint when I lived here more than fifteen years ago. It was at that bookstote that I discovered Kafka and Don DeLillo and e. e. cummings.

But Cambridge, especially around Harvard Square, is still a wonderful place for junkies. There is the Coop bookstore. It looks and feels like a Barnes & Noble (it even has a Starbucks-style cafe on the second floor), so it’s not exactly a cute, family-run kind of establishment, but for quantity it’s the best. There is the historic and tasteful Harvard Book Store. This is my kind of joint. The selections are just right, just enough. The atmosphere is classic yet comfortable. For good quality used books, there is the charming Raven Used Books. In one visit I found all the hard-to-find books I ever wanted. For travelers, or traveler wannabes, the Globe Corner Bookstore has it all, with maps!

I tell myself that some day I’ll kick the habit for good. I don’t need to go that often. I could go only once a month, or less.

I check the headlines everyday. Maybe there’ll be something about meteorites. I hope. So I can go, guilt-free.

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Coop Bookstore and Cafe

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Harvard Book Store

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Raven Used Books

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The Globe Corner Bookstore

Counting Reflections in the Mirror May 10, 2007

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This morning Bangkok was already wet and gloomy when I woke up–my favorite kind of weather, and a perfect day for me in many ways. I have to finish my article for GM magazine (Thailand). It’s about Nick Drake, the English folk singer-songwriter whose music became quietly but increasingly influential since he died in 1974, at the age of 26. Drake’s delicate and unusual arrangements of acoustic strings and his fragile singing voice have inspired listeners to associate his work with sadness. I don’t think his music is sad. I think his songs are more like sighs of resignation. When I listen to his music I usually picture someone lying in bed on a rainy morning, staring out the window, thinking about everything and murmuring to him or herself, “oh, well.”

But I myself am not really in the Nick Drake mood today. I received the Japanese version of my short story collection in the mail. i can’t stop molesting this book! I think it looks wonderful, thanks to Koji (the publisher of Typhoon Books Japan), Endo-san (Endo Kazunari, the designer), and Yuzawa-san (Yuzawa Kaori, the artist who did the drawing on the cover). The title of this collection is Kagami no Naka o Kazoeru, which I am told means something like “counting reflections in the mirror”. The translations of the stories are all done by professor Udo Seiji, who is a great karaoke singer as well as a much respected teacher of Thai language in Tokyo.

This book is not my first book published in Japan, but it should represent my literary work better than the previous book, which was the script for the film Last Life in the Universe (the title in Japanese is different, but I can’t remember it at the moment).

I look forward to getting feedback from Japanese readers.