Wednesday, 21 December 2011

"A Woman of Bangkok" is Back!

The great news is that, "A Woman of Bangkok", Jack Reynolds' classic novel published in 1956 in New York and London is at last back in print. If you scan down this blog you'll find many articles about my quest to learn more about it's author. I've now gone far down that road and so am thrilled for him that Monsoon Books in Singapore have issued both a paper version and an ebook. The blurb that you'll find at www.monsoonbooks.com.sg reads as follows. (If you go to the sample chapter, you'll also find a short bio of Jack.)********** "Set against a beautifully observed Thailand of the 1950s, this is the story of a young Englishman’s infatuation with a dance-hall hostess named Vilai, who all Bangkok knows as The White Leopard. No ordinary prostitute, Vilai is one of the most memorable in literature’s long line of brazen working girls. An unmitigated liar and brutally transparent about her desire for money, she unscrupulously milks young Reggie Joyce, the son of an Anglican vicar, with complete frankness. Reggie knows her for what she is yet there seems no folly he will not commit for her, no road to ruin he dares not take. Vilai becomes an obsession for him—an obsession that brings Reggie moments of ecstasy, months of anguish and the threat of utter disaster. Acknowledged today as one of the most memorable novels about Thailand, “A Woman of Bangkok” was first published to critical acclaim in London and New York in the 1950s and is a classic of Bangkok fiction. While the Fifties was a very different world, what is remarkable about this book is that the more the bar scene in Bangkok changes, the more it stays the same. Just as Moll Flanders and Fanny Hill stand eternal, Vilai takes a very special, dare one say seminal, place as the first and best of the many anti-heroines of the now burgeoning Bangkok novel."******** It is a fine piece of writing and well worth reading. Tell us what you think!********** Please forgive this bizarre editing. Blogspot is refusing to accept my paragraphing.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pray tell more. I suspect you had something to do with this book getting published again. Also are you writing a book about the author?

Thai Girl said...

How did you guess, Mr Anonymous?

Yes, indeed, I had something to do with Monsoon finding Jack's family and arranging for "A Woman of Bangkok" to be republished.

For two years I have been researching the life of Jack Reynolds with a view to a book or two. A partial biography about his extraordinary life as a vehicle for a collection of some of his other writings would work well.

He also spent time in China from 1945 to 1951 and had some extraordinary adventures there which he chronicled in the newsletters of the Friends Ambulance Unit for whom he was working. An edited selection of these would be both history and a good adventure story.

All I need is a means of publication and distribution.

Andrew

ABC said...

Hope you will write a bit more frequent than once a year :-) Mike.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew,
Look at your blog's archive I noticed that the number of your post seem to reduce by roughly half each year compare to the previous year. I'm not sure if it is just burned out or not, but try to post more often please. I and I'm sure many more love to read your blog and enjoy each and every post that came out from your small soi. Thanks for sharing. I just hope that you're not like Mike at http://www.thailand-blogs.com/

Tung.

herry tan said...

nice blog, i like thailand because like indonesia, if u have time visit my blog..

herry-tan.blogspot.com

thanks...

Anonymous said...

Miss you posts

Dave Garner said...

Iread this book many years ago, finding it in a second hand book shop. Gave it to a friend in Surat a long time ago.Will certainly buy it again.
Went on to the publishers website and couldn't see it as an e-book.
Read your request on the Ships Nostalgia forum last year.Still no replies,th

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to say thank you for your efforts with 'A Woman of Bangkok'. I purchased a copy on Amazon a couple of months ago and I've since purchased several more as gifts for friends around the world. Reynolds paints a vivid picture of a world that's as familiar to many who visit or live in Bangkok today....sixty years ago! I'd love to find out more about the mysterious Jack Reynolds; why he apparently did not feel compelled to follow up on his initial success, for example? As far as I know, he wrote only one other book, the obscure "Daughters of an Ancient Race" (which I can't find). There's not much on the Internet about him, although I did read a post that you were on the trail? If there's anything you can share, you'll find a ready audience in me at least! - Regards, Stuart (Sydney Australia)

Thai Girl said...

Stuart,

I'm thrilled to find another fan intruiged by Jack Reynolds and thanks for your Comment.

I fully share your curiosity about how a writer could appear from nowhere, present the world with an accomplished novel, and then never publish another one. I have been through the archives of his London publisher and with the help of his various friends have found the answers which are briefly referred to in the introduction I wrote for the Monsoon edition of his novel. Even if his new manuscript was eaten by a crocodile, that was not the only reason for "A Woman of Bangkok" being his only novel.

I feel I now know an awful lot about his life and would love to republish, "Daughters of an Ancient Race" which is a delight and some sort of limited biography. If you can stir up sufficient interest in his novel on the web forums and so on, this might just be opossible.

All the best to you, Andrew.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew. I contacted several well-known (and not so well known) popular Thailand commentators who I thought would help get something going. Unfortunately, I encountered what I really ought to have expected - the usual petty antipathy and jealousy that seems to be the special reserve of Bangkok expats for each other. The distilled view was that 'A Woman of Bangkok' is rubbish because they didn't understand it and found it hard going. Certain of them felt that the "snobs" who claimed to like the book were somehow lording it over the lesser mortals. I rest my case, I'm afraid.
I would like to keep in touch with you regarding Jack Reynolds. I'm hesitant to publish my email address here - is there some other way I can keep in contact? - Regards, Stuart

Anonymous said...

I add my voice to those who encourage your postings. I assume most of us reading your posts have our story.

Your writings produce through your sharing of your experiences recognition of a shared journey and my firm and ardent cheering for your success.

Please keep posting Andrew

Thai Girl said...

Good to hear from you again, Stuart, even if you are reporting a few disappointments.

My own experience both as a reader and as an author is that not everyone likes the same books... also that some posturing and bitchiness may crop up, especially among the self-appointed literati.

In Bangkok Joe Cummings always lauded "A Woman of Bangkok" in his Lonely Planet guide as perhaps the best of its genre while Christopher Moore has expressed to me more luke warm feelings for it, and I respect these different judgements. I personally love it for its depiction of Vilai, the White Leopard and of Reggie's obsession for her charms, but I do not feel the book is beyond criticism in a few respects.

Anyway, I'd love to be in touch with you personally and you can contact me on arhicks56@hotmail.com. (Email access to me is in fact available on Blogger via my Profile.)

Looking forward to this.

Andrew

PS Monsoon tells me that their new issue of the novel is selling well.