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A Few Perfect Hours and Other Stories from Southeast Asia and Central Europe

Overview

Autobiographical cartoonist Josh Neufeld takes us on a dramatic tour of places as exotic and different as Thailand, the former Yugoslavia, and New York City. Highlights include Neufeld and traveling companion Sari Wilson on a volunteer expedition to an organic farm in Malaysia, their stint as extras in a Chinese-language Singaporean soap opera, a train trip through war-torn Serbia, and a near-disastrous cave adventure in Thailand.
With gentle humor and a keen eye for the ...

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Overview

Autobiographical cartoonist Josh Neufeld takes us on a dramatic tour of places as exotic and different as Thailand, the former Yugoslavia, and New York City. Highlights include Neufeld and traveling companion Sari Wilson on a volunteer expedition to an organic farm in Malaysia, their stint as extras in a Chinese-language Singaporean soap opera, a train trip through war-torn Serbia, and a near-disastrous cave adventure in Thailand.
With gentle humor and a keen eye for the revelatory detail, Neufeld explores religion and spirituality, politics and personalities, and the mysteries of everyday life. His stories reflect the backpacker's conflicted feelings: a yearning for adventure mixed with homesickness and a sense of disconnection, trapped in a reality constantly in flux.
In the collection's title story, Neufeld illustrates how the tensions and fears involved in travel through a strange country are dispelled by a Thai monk's blessing. In "On a Mission," Neufeld contrasts the viewpoints of American Baptist missionaries in northern Thailand with the traditions of a Buddhist festival. And in "Cremations, Cubicles & Cant," Neufeld juxtaposes his grandmother's Jewish funeral with a Hindu cremation ceremony he witnessed on Bali.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Neufeld and his girlfriend, Sari, have traveled all over the world, and like all travelers, they've come back with stories. Unlike most travelers, though, Neufeld makes a point of trying to understand what these stories mean, why he reacts to his experiences the way he does and what results from the friction between his own culture and the cultures where he's a tourist. That comes to a head in this work's final tale, "Cremations, Cubicles & Cant," in which Neufeld considers the death and funeral of his grandmother in the context of his travels, and the significance of funeral rites within and outside her community. In another story, Neufeld tries to imagine his uneasy interaction with a Serbian ice cream salesman from the other man's perspective. The book's highlight is "The Cave of Fear," a story about a day trip in Thailand. Neufeld is drawn to the trip's potential for danger, and what might ordinarily be a merely entertaining anecdote becomes the occasion for lucid, unsparing self-examination. Neufeld draws himself as a slightly neurotic caricature, and his backgrounds show how salient details can be reduced to a few clear lines. He has an appealingly clean visual style and uses it to highlight the differences between his tourist self and his surroundings. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781891867798
  • Publisher: Alternative Comics
  • Publication date: 9/15/2004
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.75 (w) x 10.25 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

A Few Perfect Hours: Bangkok, Thailand - Chaos and confusion...sanctuary in a Buddhist temple 1
Travel Tip #6: How to Squat 15
Travel Tip #13: Bathing in the Tropics 16
The Cave of Fear: Soppong, Thailand - Eight hours in a dark, water-filled cave 19
Tribal Rituals, Part I: On a Mission: Nakhon Phanom, Thailand - Stranded...salvation...new perspectives... Baptists and Buddhists 31
Travel Tip #3: Less Weight in the Bag 45
Mr. Ong's Organic Farm: Penang, Malaysia - Sustainable agriculture versus the forces of industrialization...a day's work 47
How to Star in a Singaporean Soap Opera: Singapore - Extras on Chinese-language TV...how Singaporeans view the West 59
Travel Tip #45: Gynecology on the Go 69
The Balkan Express, Part I: The Serbian Bear: Serbia - Traveling from Istanbul to Prague...trampled by wartime nationalism...peach schnapps 73
The Balkan Express, Part II: The Ice Cream Man: Belgrade, Serbia - Practicing English on two travelers in a train station 81
Tribal Rituals, Part II: Cremations, Cubicles, and Cant: Prague, Chicago, Bali, and New York - Death, religion, and ritual...saying farewell 89
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2004

    Quickly Devoured

    The humour in this intimately-written graphic novel hits home with its baldly honest, personal stories. Like others, I didn't want the book to end, and found myself slowing the read by spending extra time with the expressive and fabulously rendered comic panels. Very entertaining & excellent to pass on to friends.

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