22 May 2009

Rush Out | กรูกันออกมา

Paretas Hutanggura is probably most remembered from his collection of short stories The Witch in the Building (แม่มดบนตึก). Some of the stories remain a must-read for those interested in contemporary Thai Literature, as Paretas is one of the most sarcastic authors around who does give an accurate picture of consumer culture.

In Rush Out, he continues in the same vein of sarcastic parody, tackling the film industry through the characterisation of two characters, a traditional minor royal and a PhD upstart who just finishes her study abroad. If the former prefers everything to be traditional, the latter simply thinks that tradition is anything but dead and society should be more frank in dealing with violence and the corruption of the public mind. The two are asked to be in the same panel for the Pirate Award, which is given to the best scriptwriter, whose script will be made into the film. So what we see is the contrast of the two extremes, one traditional and the other radical and transgressive.

Such a contrast, in fact, is what exists in Thai society and is deepening. We have people who still preach about the evils of globalisation and the glorious days in the past. At the same time, we have newer generations of people who think that these opinions are simply a myth and that these older people are deluding themselves to be something they have never been from the start.

Paretas, of course, doesn't offer any solution to this crack in our social structure, but he does revel in portraying the contrast in the Rabelaisian manner, as if he realised that there's no way out, just a cynical look at the whole scenario of absurdity. For me, this novel is special, as it is the first time I feel that I need to read quickly. It's not made for careful perusal. Perhaps the style itself reflects our faster pace of life, where we are not supposed to stop and think. Because if we do so, existential absurdity is what we are going to feel.

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