This is a Book Review!
This week I was presented with yet another book about life in Thailand, and a side oflife that most of us would publicly shun. Written by Derek Sharron, My Name Lon – You Like Me? (ISBN 974-92721-5-3, publisher Bangkok Book House), claims to be a true story following the life and (mis)fortunes of Lon, a girl from Esarn.
In essence, at age 13, Lon runs away from her family in the province of Ubon Ratchathani and comes to Bangkok. To be able to do this, she steals some money from her family home, and that almost sets the tone for this book. Lon explains this saying, “I had nothing, therefore I had nothing to lose, so I ran away.”
The book then goes into a good description of village life and culture she had left behind. A culture where the males are raised as the indulged sex, while the females remain downtrodden. However, these same females grow up to be the mothers that dominate a family, as the males have all left on their own self-indulgent lives. The village families are then hierarchical female dynasties, where the elders have to be looked after.
To attempt to give the reader an inkling of why there are people such as the Lon’s of this world, an overview of the disparity in the distribution of wealth is given. Reference notes are given to lend credibility to this and other factors that are involved in the prostitution culture.
Lon’s story brings all the factors together, but after chapter five, the book becomes more of a Lon’s sorry diary of sordid sex. In that regard, it is certainly a sorry tale, but one that not only shows how these girls are manipulated, but also how they are prepared to use all the tricks of the trade to further their own causes (while at the same time use cultural heritage as their raison d’etre).
This book has tried to be all things for all people. A narrative, a reference source, a social commentary, a guide to the sex tourism spots you don’t want to visit, and a list of international males that are prepared to use greedy girls from underdeveloped countries. The Germans have a beautiful phrase for it – an “eierlegende wollmilchsau” which is roughly translated as an egg-laying, woolly, milking pig!
However, despite the above comment, the book does serve some purposes, and Lon’s tale might make some tourists to this country realize just how shallow some of the ladies of the night really are.
It is interesting that author Derek Sharron mentions Pira Sudham’s Monsoon Country, a highly respected Esarn commentary, in his list of suggested reading. Pira’s books (and look for the new anthology Shadowed Country) give a much better picture of the real situation and etiology in the poverty stricken North-East than does this book, but Sharron’s will give you a much better snapshot of how a culture can be twisted by poverty, and how psychologically weak individuals within that culture can become like Lon.
(This post were originally written for my old blog in February 2005 and move here after)