now finished: Video Night in Kathmandu by Pico Iyer
This was the Pico Iyer book I should have read in the first place. You may recall that when I did my A-to-Z Literary Blog Project, I selected Pico for "I." However, I was reading novels for that project so I read his Cuba and the Night, a work of "fiction." It was OK, but not really a novelly novel, you know? More like a thinly veiled memoir of his Cuba experiences - kind of like what I'm writing in my own Cuba "novel." But I had wanted to read Pico Iyer ever since we had him on The Savvy Traveler back in the day, and I was most intrigued by Video Night in Kathmandu. So now I have read that one, and I am a fan.
He wrote it after traveling through a slew of different Asian countries in the 1980s. To give an idea, he talks about seeing Rambo, Madonna, and "We Are the World" making it big. The book's philosophy is basically his examination of how East Meets West as he travels in Bali, Nepal, Tibet, Thailand, the Philippines, Burma, China, India, Hong Kong and Japan.
And all it did was make we want to drop everything and go back to Asia. Now.
I was actually already plotting to go back to Asia, but this book was like a catalyst added to an already bubbling over test tube.
It's not like he had the most amazing mind-blowing travel experience ever, or that he told some story like no one else could tell it. This was no Into Thin Air. It just made me insanely jealous because he writes about so many places and I want to see them all! The British expats having a grand ol' time in their high-rise Hong Kong apartments, when China's re-taking-over was still years off. Tibet and Burma and China when they were newly opened to Western tourists. Mandalay! The intricacies of baseball in Japan, before quite so many Japanese pitchers were doing great things in the MLB. And India - his delightful descriptions of the wacky layers of life that pile on top of each other in India, and how perfectly those crazy layers are reflected in Indian film.