Evans’s The World of Vincent Calvino (2015) is
an in-depth study of my Vincent Calvino novels. One reviewer
of Evans’ book observed that it was an excellent chronological
review of the first three decades of the series. In this short
retrospective, I won’t come close to matching its multi-level
examination of the books in the series as well as placing them
in a larger context.
My purpose is more modest. It
is to give you some insight in what my literary influences were,
the reception of the books, and evolution of author’s
mind over a long-time span. There are literary handles to lift
under the thinking of an author. Personal temperament, psychology,
friends, colleagues, and our profoundly unreliable memories,
all are tentacles kneading the clay that becomes the outline
of who the author is.
Evans’s reviewer also
added “Calvino has matured through the ages…”
Maturity is a shortcut to evolution. Calvino as a private eye
transplanted from New York to Bangkokg had to adapt to a very
different social, cultural and historical ecology than the one
he was born to and grew up in. He became a “cultural detective”.
The weight of thirty years will
inevitably change all but a superhero character. Calvino was
never a member of that club. He was no Peter Pan. No Bruce Wayne.
He was very human. He did what he could do and often failed.
He was who he was and didn’t pretend to be someone else.
He exposed his flaws and defects, accepted the inevitable verdict
that all diamonds are flawed. Rather than rejecting the flaws,
he embraced them and moved on.
As an author of a long-running
crime novel series, I get asked all the time by new readers
if the books are to read in chronological order. I’ve
always answered no to that question. On reflection, I wonder
if I gave it enough thought. The series is not a continuing
story with each book a new episode and you’d be lost unless
you read the preceding books. All of Vincent Calvino novels
stand alone in that sense. But there is another sense in which
they fall into groupings. Having just ended the Calvino series,
it is reflection about the series that has motivated me to write
this synopsis. If you are new to the Calvino series, you might
want to figure out how the title you’re thinking of reading
fits into the series framework, which is the passage of time
and the evolutionary changes that time brings to the characters,
Bangkok, Thai people, expats, and the general spirit of the
times. I wrote the Calvino series alongside other literary novels
and various non-fiction books. They are mentioned as another
lens to understand my preoccupations, interests, and literary
The books found under each decade
of Calvino has its fan base. A lot of fans have stuck with all
three decades. But it is human nature to prefer one thing over
another. So why should it be any different with books? I’ve
found that some of my readers tend to favor a certain period
of time reflected in the Calvino books. I’d like to think
most friends and readers share an interest in all three decades
of Vincent Calvino’s life. But from conversations and
reviews, there are some who positively don’t like a certain
decade of my Calvino books but prefer others from a different
era. What we like or dislike, our taste and preference are uniquely
our own. People have a different memory about the past. Changes
affects some people more than others. Different people have
different views about what a crime or noir novel should be.
I accept that Calvino’s evolution doesn’t please
every reader. There lies the ultimate Calvino’s law: if
you lead your lives simply to please others you will have no
life and no real friends.
Like every other writer, I can
write about the future, but I can’t write from the future.
The impressions and memories and recollections I am sharing
are more like a hand-written map on the back of a restaurant
napkin. I’ve finished the journey, and now I’ve
gone back over the trail I’ve walked and found some signpost.
The first decade: 1990
to 1999 (6 Calvino novels)
Spirit House (1992)
Asia Hand (1993)
Zero Hour in Phnom Penh (1994)
Comfort Zone (1995)
The Big Weird (1996)
Cold Hit (1999)
This was the old Asia Hand decade.
Insider knowledge was needed to navigate this largely hidden
world for foreign expatriates. Communications were difficult.
People used rotary phones, fax machines and postal mail. This
was the pre-Internet, pre-social media world where the fall
of the Berlin Wall started the decade. The opening of the BTS,
the sky train, in Bangkok ended this period. During this period,
I worked as a corporate lawyer and journalist. I spent 6 weeks
a year in Vietnam (1990 to 1995) working in a law office in
Saigon. I covered the UNTAC period in Cambodia in 1993 as a
freelance journalist. I was soaking up multiple histories, cultures,
languages, and tensions as change brought conflict.
I’d been a civilian with
NYPD for nearly six months in 1986. It was the first time I’d
been shot at. In Brooklyn. A ruined, crumpling tunnel of buildings
smelling of poverty and fear. I’d been riding with a night
patrol. It’d been a shot gun. A couple of shots. Nothing
personal. Some homeboys letting them know we’d come onto
their turf. My next direct experience with gunfire came in the
third decade of writing Calvino. The thing with violence, like
sex, the experience left you changed in subtle ways, and consciously
or unconsciously the way you fit into the world is never quite
the same. In this decade, New York, Saigon, Phnom Penh and Bangkok
were far different than they are today.
The memories of those times
and places are salted into the Calvino books and other novels
written during this decade. The first decade was productive
for writing and publishing books. I published 13 books, 6 of
them novels in the Calvino series.
My literary influences in the
first decade: Nelson Algren (Man with a Golden Arm),
Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer), Henry Miler’s
publisher and my mentor and friend, Barney Rosset, and Charles
Calvino borrowed from Bukowski
three pieces of advice:
you own must be able to fit inside one suitcase; then your
mind might be free.” —Charles Bukowski, Portions
from a Wine-Stained Notebook: Uncollected Stories and Essays,
people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must
wanted the whole world or nothing.”—Charles Bukowski,
John Berger and Henry Miller
gave me the same insight that served me well during this decade.
John Berger’s BBC series in the early 70s and the book
based on the series were an important influence. Miller understood
the same idea. Unless you had a new way of seeing things, there
was no point. In writing.
destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
When I arrived in Bangkok December
1988 I walked off the plane carrying one suitcase and a laptop.
Four years earlier, I’d resigned from a tenured position
as a law professor at the University of British Columbia. My
first novel, His Lordship’s Arsenal, had been accepted
by a small New York City publisher in 1985. The acceptance happened
over a weekend. I had the crazy idea that I should pursue a
writing career. My next crazy idea was to set a novel in Bangkok
where I’d visited in 1983. I was attracted to Bangkok
as I had been to New York; I walked among people who had allowed
themselves to go a little crazy. I drew upon those experiences
to find a naturalness in the strangeness, a genius in the way
poor people survived, and a profound sadness in the broken dreams
and treachery that came to appear as normal.
I was in a position not unlike
Henry Miller’s in Paris in the 1930s.
have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man
And from Nelson Algren, Calvino
discovered that many of his cases during this decade resulted
from expats failing to follow his advice:
sleep with someone whose troubles are worse than your own.”—Nelson
Algren, A Walk on the Wild Side
By the third decade of the series,
Calvino had come to realize that Nelson Algren’s advice
applied to both men and women.
The reviewers emphasized the
dark side of Bangkok as an essential part of the mood of the
novel. This review of Spirit House is an example:
thinking man’s Philip Marlowe, Calvino is a cynic on
the surface but a romantic at heart. Calvino . . . found himself
in Bangkok—the end of the world for a whole host of
bizarre foreigners unwilling, unable, or uninterested in going
—The Daily Yomiuri
For Asia Hand:
stylish second Bangkok thriller… explores the dark side
of both Bangkok and the human heart. Felicitous prose speeds
the action along….”
The US edition of Asia Hand,
won a coveted Shamus Award when published by Grove/Atlantic
in 2010, nearly two decade after the original Thai edition by
However, the best-known Calvino
novel of this decade, one that was widely translated, was Zero
Hour in Phnom Penh (1994). This novel was the first introduction
I’d overtly made by examining the dark side of a traumatized
population and how they existed in a world of power, influence
and violence. As the third Calvino novel in the series, Zero
Hour in Phnom Penh won a German Critics Award for international
crime fiction in 2004 and Premier Special Director Book Award
Semana Negra, Spain in 2007.
more than a thriller, Zero Hour in Phnom Penh is
a fresco of Cambodia and its people, their despair, their
hopes, their fears, their lives. And that’s what makes
this book a single work, much deeper than what can be expected
to begin reading.”
The Europeans in particular
like Zero Hour in Phnom Penh (originally published
under the title Cut Out in English). A French drew
favorable reviews along these lines:
excellent hardboiled whodunnit, a noir novel with a solitary,
disillusioned but tempting detective in an interesting social,
historical context (of post-Pol Pot Cambodia), and a very
thorough psychological study of the characters.”—La
culture se partage
The decade of the 1990s ended
as it had begun with Vincent Calvino’s investigations
taking him into the nightlife of Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza.
The cultural clashes and the growing confidence of women indicated
that changes in attitude were evolving quickly. The first glimmer
of online hookups was featured in 1996 with The Big Weird,
which predicted sexuality would migrate to the digital world.
German reviewers sometimes played
up the bawdy underbelly of Bangkok and the action elements of
Cold Hit. Cold Hit was later translated into three
other languages, German, Japanese and Chinese. It was a mirror
about a way of life that had changed with the technology, better
transportation, more jobs, and the start of a new class of mass
jungle, sex, drugs, power, but also good-hearted people: a
—Zwanzig Minuten Zürich
“A colourful piece, rich in action, of detective literature.”
During this decade, in which
I wrote 6 Calvino novels, I also published 7 other books:
Literary novels: Enemies
of Memory (later retitled: Tokyo Joe) (1990);
A Killing Smile (1991), A Bewitching Smile
(1992), A Haunting Smile (1993), Saint Anne
(later retitled: Red Sky Falling) (1994), God of
Non-fiction: Heart Talk
(350 Jai phrases) (1992)
The Second Decade: 2000
to 2009 (4 Calvino novels)
Minor Wife (2002)
Pattaya 24/7 (2004)
The Risk of Infidelity Index (2007)
Paying Back Jack (2009)
The 2000s could be described
as the post-Asian economic crash era, with the arrivals of more
diverse groups of foreigners. The Calvino novels had at their
heart always been about cross-cultural relationships, misunderstandings,
failures of communication, deceit, mistrust, and psychological
separation at accompanies an expat life.
The power relations between
people are explored in the first two novels of this decade.
A minor or secondary wife in the first novel and a local warlord
in the second novel of the period. These power dynamics show
a social and political transition, a shifting of authority,
and the emergence of a modern sensibility.
My earlier literary influences
continued to appear in the second decade books. But something
had shifted in my way of seeing the world. The role of chance,
randomness, and luck pushed into the books. Robertson Davies,
The Fifth Business, taught me that the impulsive act of throwing
a snowball was an event that could echo through the entire lives
of people, shaping, defining, restricting those lives in untoward
ways. There was never any snow in Bangkok but that didn’t
stop me from throwing metaphorical snowballs. During this decade,
the books explored what filled the vacuum of fidelity and trust
in relationships. These four novels shown a world of terror,
submission, domination schemes, and plots to control the minds
and hearts of others. Bangkok (and Pattaya) served to be the
backdrop to the tensions, suspicions, and amorality that surfaced
in cultural clashes.
pursues in even greater detail in Minor Wife the changing
social roles of Thai women (changing, but not always quickly
or for the better) and their relations among themselves and
across class lines and other barriers.”—Vancouver
Some reviewers were finding
the novels could be read at different levels.
literary talents are obvious. This book is deeper than the
well one of the characters was fished out of.”—Pattaya
In this decade the Calvino novels
began to attract a larger international audience, especially
in North America. The latter two of the four books, had a large
publishing run in New York City and were widely reviewed. In
The Risk of Infidelity Index and Paying Back Jack,
the political dimensions are at the forefront. Calvino finds
a Bangkok more dangerous, less understandable, and he realizes
the loss of coherence is caused by forces beyond his control.
Reviewers read the last two
books of this decade as thriller, noir fiction about the underworld
violent, and saturated in details of Bangkok’s underworld.”—The
“The Risk of Infidelity Index is a complex, violent,
and high readable thriller.” —One80 News (UK)
With Paying Back Jack, international reviewers understood
that the books were less about the bars and nightlife than the
connection between the criminal class, the powerful, and their
networks that extended deep into the night life. The plot took
the reader behind the scenes into the world of people involved
in the secret prisons run by the Americans in Bangkok,
reveals the seething stew of wealth, corruption, cultural
clashes, poverty and lust that is modern Bangkok . . . all
will appreciate the raw passion that drives the action.”—Publishers
rich panorama of east meets west. This time round Calvino
is drawn into the murky world of private prisons, political
assassination and UN officialdom.... Whether you try it for
the exotic setting, the hard-boiled hero or the intrigue and
action, you won't be disappointed. And you'll be back for
more!”—Chris Bilkey, Crime Buzz
During the second decade I wrote
4 Calvino novels and also published 3 other books:
Fiction: Chairs (2000),
Waiting for the Lady (2003), Gambling on Magic
The Third Decade: 2010 to 2019 (6 Calvino
The Corruptionist (2010)
9 Gold Bullets (2011)
Missing in Rangoon (2013)
The Marriage Tree (2014)
I started Calvino’s third
decade without an international publisher. This decade found
the Calvino series more isolated from its international audience.
Translations had dried up. Grove/Atlantic published books from
the first and second decade. By the third decade they discontinued
publishing the Calvino novels. Publishing had changed. The digital
world brought e-books. As a footnote, Spirit House
may go down as the first Amazon #1 ranked eBook holding that
spot for two weeks. The deal with Jeff Bezos and my publisher
at the time had been unique. Spirit House was offered
for free during those two weeks. At the end, when a price tag
was placed on the eBook edition of Spirit House, it sank faster
than an aircraft carrier’s anchor into the vast ocean
The American critics had supported
the series; but unfortunately, not enough American readers had
signed on to a journey with Vincent Calvino to Bangkok or elsewhere
in Southeast Asia. Later into this decade, readers of fiction
bought fewer hardbacks, trade editions; e-books were the rage.
By the end of the decade, everyone, reader and non-reader, flocked
to various blogs, YouTube, podcasts, and new social media platforms
like Facebook and Twitter. People gradually transported their
lives into the online world where they could lose themselves
in thousands of rabbit holes.
The third decade opened with
civil unrest in Bangkok, that would lead to one of the bloodiest
military crackdowns of political protests in modern Thai history
with at least 99 people killed and thousands injured. For about
a week in May 2010, I walked along Rama IV Road, filming what
I witnessed, venturing to the frontlines beyond which military
units were in position. Tires were set afire. The unmistakable
sound of gunfire. The sight of people, running, ducking, monks
crouching in a doorway. Their faces filled with fear and terror.
From my condo balcony I watched columns of black smoke rising
from fires across the city. One of those eventful days, I witnessed
a crowd set fire to the Securities and Exchange Building of
Thailand and saw how they threw stones at the fire brigade that
arrived, only to quickly withdraw. Night after night, with the
blackout and curfew restrictions, my wife and I heard gunfire.
We looked out into darkness. Most nights a lone motorcyclist
blasted down Ratchadaphisek Road as if chased by dragons.
The third decade of Calvino
started with being in the line of fire. There is nothing quite
like being pinned down by gunfire in a crowd. Or hearing the
report and seeing the distant muzzle flash of guns from your
balcony. It changes you as a writer in ways that you understand
characters and the fear that shapes them. When I look back at
that time, I remember what Orwell wrote about in Homage to Catalonia.
I never experienced even a small portion of what befell Orwell,
but I’d seen enough to know that he was right.
believe that on such an issue as this no one is or can be
completely truthful. It is difficult to be certain about anything
except what you have seen with your own eyes, and consciously
or unconsciously everyone writes as a partisan.”—George
Orwell, Homage to Catalonia
It was during this decade that
I began writing and publishing essays that were collected and
later published in a series of books. I also reached out to
the larger community of writers as editor of three anthologies
in order to show the diversity of voices in the noir community.
My literary influences during
this period were Borges, Camus, Orwell, and Saramago.
The politically charged imagination of George Orwell runs like
a river through the landscape of these six novels. Orwell had
been a colonial official in Burma. I loved his Burmese Days,
his first novel, where he recorded his experiences as well as
Shooting an Elephant, his short story.
The pull of Orwell was powerful
is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together
again in new shapes of your own choosing.” —George
Like Henry Miller, Orwell visited
the idea of insanity and that had a great appeal during this
enjoy talking to you. Your mind appeals to me. It resembles
my own mind except that you happen to be insane.”—George
But I also understood the practical
point expressed by José Saramago.
how life is, what it gives with one hand one day, it takes
away with the other.”—José Saramago, Death
The last novel in this decade
was inspired by Camus.
only serious question in life is whether to kill yourself
or not.”—Albert Camus
These words by Camus were never
far away from my imagination in writing these novels. “One
must imagine Sisyphus happy.” To me that was the ultimate
challenge of imagination. The sheer magnitude of his vision
is beyond my limited abilities to convey. His mind erected a
range of mountains that never ended. He loved labyrinths. He
taught me what the represented and how they were constructed.
is no need to build a labyrinth when the entire universe is
one.”—Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected
Stories and Other Writings
He taught me the nature of time,
not from the laws of physics, but from our position in nature.
is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps
me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys
me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but
I am the fire.”—Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths:
Selected Stories and Other Writings
I was never happier than during
the third decade. I’d found my voice as an author. I had
listened to my literary mentors, observed their warnings, advice,
and directions. From Borges, I understood that all along I had
been drawing a map about the landscape Vincent Calvino had traveled.
These books were signposts on a journey into what I labelled
as the Great Unraveling. The foundation of the earlier decades—socially,
politically and economically—had begun to collapse, slowly,
gradually, but with the eerily feeling that the center would
not hold. In these books, Calvino is caught up in cultures where
the rate of change accelerated at a dizzy velocity. His cases
took him into the midst of major changes in the structure of
how things had been done in Bangkok, Rangoon, New York City
into labyrinths connected by a tunnel of terror, humiliation
and unreliable memories. The hourglass was running out of sand.
Perhaps no other author influenced
me more than Borges. It is difficult to know which of his words
to illustrate the power he brought to bear on my way of seeing
I started out with a controversial title in The Corruptionist.
Bernard Trink, legendary Nite Owl, caught the meaning.
. . . has a role in the series, more so now than earlier.
What with corruption during elections and coups afterwards,
the denizens watch with bemusement the unlikelihood of those
in office serving their terms. Moore captures this in his
books. Thought-provoking columnists don’t do it better.
. . . Moore is putting Thailand on the map.”—Bernard
Trink, Bangkok Post
In 9 Gold Bullet, Calvino
returned to his native New York, Pratt, also a former New Yorker,
had gone along in his official capacity in the Royal Thai Police
Force. New York changed; both Calvino and Pratt had changed,
too. Calvino learnt an important lesson. The old New York had
died while he’d been living in Bangkok. He couldn’t
go back home. He was home.
During this decade I wrote three
novels later packaged as the Great Unraveling trilogy—Missing
in Rangoon, The Marriage Tree and Crackdown.
In part, I suspect these novels are linked to those long nights
of gunfire in 2010. Something had changed the way I saw political
power, repression, and injustice. The political and economic
corruption combined to drive the story in Missing in Rangoon.
The fate of the Rohingya’s and the underground network
that tried to help them featured in the Marriage Tree. In Crackdown,
the military was in power, there were student protests, public
demonstrations, and Cambodian living and working in Bangkok
were given short notice to leave the country. This decade roiled
with political turmoil that continued until the end of the decade.
As an examination of a crucial period of time, the political
cycle of freedom and hope that had begun the series with the
fall of the Berlin Wall ended. I sought to capture that atmosphere
in these three novels.
Calvino suffers a mental breakdown,
being haunted by Missing in Rangoon, which proved too
much for him, but he came out the other end much wiser and more
mature than before. You can even say Calvino evolved, adapted
to the new environment. He found a way to help and to survive—not
always a possible combination. Some readers confide in me that
the third decade is the most important one for the Calvino series.
We no longer have the newbie private eye, we have moved beyond
the cynical, seen it all private investigator, and Calvino emerges
with a renewed sense of the what the Stoics taught: learn to
distinguish between the things you can control, and those you
can’t. Let go of those beyond your control. It came as
no surprise to many readers, that when Calvino returned to North
America in Jumpers, he had decide to decamp from the
City of Angels. By the start of the fourth decade, Calvino has
returned to Bangkok after a long absence.
During this decade, my passion
for exploring war crimes, murder rates, the rule of law, on
writing, government, and technology. I’d read widely in
a number of domains. Finding ways to open a wider world of ideas
in order to connect the invisible dots linking events, thoughts
and technology. The essays stimulated my imagination as returned
to working on a Calvino novel. Some readers only know me from
my essays. For me there was an interplay between the essays
and the novels. I wrote an essay a week for over five-years.
Selected essays were published in four of the books mentioned
below. In writing essays, I’d paid homage to the writers
who had influenced my career. It was during this essay, I understood
the compulsion to dispense with plot, story and character and
to go for the throat.
During the third decade where
I wrote 6 Calvino novels, and also published 13 other books:
Fiction: The Wisdom of Beer
(2012), Reunion (novella) (2013)
Non-fiction: Heart Talk
(3rd Ed. 850 Jai phrases) (2005), The Vincent Calvino
Reader's Guide (2010), The Cultural Detective
(2011), Faking It in Bangkok (2012), Fear and Loathing
in Bangkok (2014), The Age of Dis-Consent (2015),
Memory Manifesto: A Walking Meditation through Cambodia
(2017), Rooms: On Human Domestication and Submission
Anthologies (Editor and contributor):
Bangkok Noir (2011), Phnom Penh Noir (2012),
The Orwell Brigade (2012).
The Fourth Decade: 2020 (1 book, so far)
The Vincent Calvino
Dance Me to the
End of Time (2020)
Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski
have receded as influences. Borges and Camus’ grip on
my thinking continued through the final book. George Orwell’s
mines had no new veins of ore. Aldous Huxley’s mind/mine
opened a new door. As did my readings in artificial intelligence,
biotechnology, bioengineering and climate change, the outside
world of physics and the mathematical universe slowly carved
new windows into my perception.
The journey ends with the 17th
novel in the series. Dance Me to the End of Time is
set at an unspecified date in the future. The impact of climate
change has caused a great upheaval in the social, political
and economic fabric. Calvino pursues a missing person case in
a transformed environment which deconstructs the framework,
network and infrastructure of the first three decades. I had
been waiting for the right time and context before I brought
Calvino back after he’d disappeared at the end of Jumpers.
Many readers thought the Calvino series had ended with Jumpers.
I felt that would have been a terrible way to end the series.
You don’t create a myth by running away from reality;
the myth-makers are those who run toward the gunfire. The kind
of behavior that is mostly the realm of fiction. In real life,
you crouch down, roll into a doorway, keep your head down.
Fiction is, in many ways, the
enterprise of mythmaking. Storytelling and narrative construction
are the scaffolding for building an idea of who we are, where
we are, what this place is, why here and not there, and I’d
been examining life for more than thirty years. It was time
to step back from the gradual evolution of Calvino’s mythmaking
enterprise and ask some of the larger questions in a future
that is set to deliver a great upheaval.
You can expect many writers
in this fourth decade to be leaving messages for a future generation.
A message in a bottle cast into the ocean of the future. We
cared. We tried. We hope the myths we’ve passed down to
you are carrying you on the leaf of life down a stream that
still flows with water you can drink.
When a writer ends a long-standing
series, what is to become of the central characters? The obvious
solution is they go out in a blaze of glory like Robert Redford
and Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
While I loved that movie and thought the ending was deserved
and appropriate, but 2020 was no longer 1969. That ending fifty
years later had become a cliché. It would have been inconceivable
in 1990 when I started researching and writing Spirit House,
that one day in the future I would be explaining the reasons
for ending a long-running series.
It is no surprise that reception
of the last book in the Vincent Calvino series has been labelled
“dystopian”. Writing about the aftermath of climate
change in the future constructs a drought ridden world, the
institutions mostly collapsed, and society reorganized to adapt
to the new environment of extreme heat, extreme weather, and
a city under water. It is easy to turn away from this vision
as it lies beyond the lies of the old.
The top rung of the ladder,
looking out, Dance Me to the End of Time ultimately
is a story of hope. No matter how dark things become, leaving
people lost in the labyrinth without hope inflicts a terrible
wound. A vertigo that robs people of the one thing required
to answer Camus’s question: “The only serious question
in life is whether to kill yourself or not.”
The darker the vision, the more
important it becomes to locate and mark the trail of hope. As
Leonard Cohen’s lyrics instruct, There is a crack
in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That's how the light gets in--
Dance Me to the End of Time
(a nod to Cohen) discovers that crack. There is light, dim,
fragile, but light, nonetheless. When I think back over those
last three decades, and the literary influences I’ve mentioned,
there is a huge gap. Let me fill it. Leonard Cohen’s songs
were a defining influence, marched in the shadows beside me
during all of those years. Whispering like the wind. With this
book, I knew that I had realized something that had eluded me
all of those years—an inner peace, an understanding of
the our personal boundaries, and the strength to find hope at
the darkest hour.
Some have said to me the last
book in the Calvino series is a “masterpiece”. Others
have registered a deep disappointment that Bangkok and Vinny
Calvino of the first decade no longer are recognizable at the
start of the fourth decade. I end with Borges still exploring
fact is that every writer creates his own precursors. His
work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify
the future.” —Jorge
Luis Borges, Labyrinths
It’s early days in the
fourth decade. I’ve published no other book in 2020. I’ve
Climate, Changing Lives Film Festival 2020. This
is a new direction into a different medium. As for new books
to be published between 2020 and 2029, my crystal ball is cloudy.
A writer never knows when his last book is his final book. All
one can say for certain is there is always a final book. While
Calvino won’t be back, hopefully I will. Stay tuned.