Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyNicholl's ( The Fruit Palace ) new book plays on words in its title as the author slips between the borders of Thailand and Burma and the real and imagined fears encountered in a richly contradictory region--a culture as deeply entrenched in prostitution and the heroin trade as in Buddhism--and explores the frontier between fiction and reportage. Based on three months of travel in Thailand and Burma during 1986, the volume takes us on the road with Harry, a French gem trader who convinced Nicholl to chaperone his Thai girlfriend in exchange for a guided tour of forest temples and other sights (``Patpong is a brief neon hymn to desire, a cacophony of come-ons''). Like sidekick Nicholl, readers never know where--or quite why--they are going until they get there, and the cast of characters is large, from ``a twelve-stone Englishman with a ruddy face and a stumpy black beard'' to women performing with chopsticks in sex shows. Regardless, Nicholl's journalism is impelled by an unfailing sense of adventure and a reporter's sixth sense for ``story.'' (Aug.)
Library Journal - Library JournalNicholl spent a few months in Thailand in 1986, and he claims that this book is no more than ``a record of some of the people I met . . . places I passed through.'' Like a B-movie adventure, he tells of a gem-and-gun-trading French expatriate named Harry Vincent and his Thai mistress, Katai. In their company he travels to the opium fields of the Golden Triangle, meets antigovernment insurgents in Burma, and throughout, encounters characters and locales right out of a Graham Greene novel. Nicholl finally gets to the Buddhist temple that was his original goal, but finds it as unrewarding as Katai finds her relationship with Harry, and Harry finds his attempt to trade guns for jade. An interesting and unusual addition for most collections.-- Kenneth W. Berger, Duke Univ. Lib., Durham, N.C.
BooknewsReprint of the Viking edition of 1989. Memoirs of a pilgrim along the Mekong R. and into Burma. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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