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Phantom Lover and Other Thrilling Tales of Thailand

Phantom Lover and Other Thrilling Tales of Thailand [Kindle Edition]

Jim Algie

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Product Description

Product Description

Dark magic and dark pasts haunt the characters in these short stories set in mysterious, exotic Thailand. Ghosts and spirits and the real-life terror of despair besiege the pages of The Phantom Lover and Other Thrilling Tales of Thailand, horror stories by award-winning writer and longtime Thailand resident Jim Algie. In these tales you'll meet:
  • A photojournalist who is literally haunted by the images of everyone he ever failed or exploited while getting a story.
  • A drug trafficker-turned-writer who confronts vulnerability in his hard-as-nails partner in crime.
  • An executioner who explores the nature of violence in a painful search for loving kindness.
For these characters, the naturally lush, deeply spiritual, and excitingly urban Thailand that is there home is also a place full of demons, a place where desperation is another word for normal. Each story follows their attempts to push through and make sense of the many different shades of darkness. The Phantom Lover and Other Thrilling Tales of Thailand warps the boundaries between the conceivable and the bizarre, and proves that the surreal can seem very real indeed.

A resident of Thailand since 1992, travel writer Jim Algie taps into Thailand's ethos from a unique perspective.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3350 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0804843880
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing (4 Feb 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compassionate portrayal of complex characters 24 Mar 2014
By Joellen H. - Published on
When asked how she felt about the Nazis, who killed her husband and mother, and imprisoned her in a concentration camp, holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer simply said, "We are all the same- good and bad." The characters in Jim Algie's "The Phantom Lover and Other Thrilling Tales of Thailand" are a testament to this truth. Viewed from one angle, they might seem monstrous or pathetic: demented murderers crazed by blood-lust; death-dealing officials enduring their guilt in a state of numbed cognitive dissonance; rapacious journalists clambering over piles of corpses, claiming to be motivated by altruism; violent, depraved con-men breaking each others' noses; pretentious intellectuals warding off emotion with callous cleverness; narcissistic high society ladies treading a fine line between neurosis and nightmare.

All of this would be thrilling fare even if it remained one dimensional, but Algie's stories are more profound than your average tales of murder and mayhem because his characters are tilted this way and that until we see them from multiple perspectives. They appear and re-appear in various tales, at different stages of life. We learn of their hurt, their history, their illness, instability and idiosyncrasy, and begin to sympathize with them, especially when they unexpectedly show compassion for one another.

A cloddish Canadian tourist metamorphoses from obnoxious loudmouth to tireless relief worker in the wake of the 2004 tsunami. In a heroin-induced dream state, a con artist confesses painful childhood insecurities that propelled him towards a criminal life. A cannibalistic murderer's hungry ghost whispers of the economic and racial cruelties that reduced him to non-personhood. A conscience-plagued executioner rises at five a.m. and lovingly prepares breakfast for his family. One of the most moving characters in the book is a bar girl nicknamed "Watermelon" who sells her body, and perhaps parts of her soul, to feed her family. She endures being slavered upon by greasy, drunken ghouls for the sake of her daughter, "Duck". Finally driven to attack one of her clients, she bargains with the Buddha in her getaway taxi. How many karmic hit points will she sustain for this crime of desperation? Paradoxically, a fleeting sympathy arises between Watermelon and her fat, rich victim as they each pretend they are making love to somebody else.

When Watermelon appears later on in the story cycle, as the stoic fiancée of the cloddish Canadian, her hard-won equanimity is elaborated thus:

"Like a plant drinking in sunshine, she absorbed all the most pleasant aspects of what was happening around her: the ocean sighing and tossing in its sleep, the breeze fluttering past that caressed the hairs on her forearms, the candlelight burnishing the wooden table, and all the smiling people on holiday, dressed in bright colours."

Passages like this are some of the most striking, and highlight a strand of Buddhist philosophy that weaves its way through the stories, patiently shadowing certain characters as they tread crookedly intersecting pathways. Western intellectual men stumble haltingly towards acceptance of the inevitability of suffering, and reverence for the beauty of the present moment- a gift and survival tool that Watermelon possesses all along.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars in fiction that takes its place among the best of the many books written about Thailand 2 May 2014
By Janet Brown - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Jim Algie has explored Thailand for decades as a journalist, chronicling some of his discoveries in Bizarre Thailand, a collection of essays that describes some of the quirky and colorful characters that populate his chosen country. Now he shows the dark side of the Land of Smiles, in fiction that takes its place among the best of the many books written about Thailand.

The Phantom Lover is a series of short stories with characters that become interlocked in its closing novella. The lives described are not always easy to read about, but they are compelling and impossible to ignore. Even the famous and grisly mass murderer See Ouey becomes in some ways comprehensible and almost sympathetic through Algie’s skillful portrayal.

The characters in this collection are all recognizable to anyone who has spent time in Thailand or who has read Algie in the past, but now they are shown right down to the marrow of their souls. The bars they work in, the revolutions they live through, the ghosts that haunt them are vividly and gruesomely alive—and are rooted firmly in real life venues all over Thailand. Even the backpacker slum of Khao San Road, now gentrified and chic, becomes fascinating as Algie goes behind the souvenir stalls and shows its criminal heart.

The concluding story brings these characters together on the southern coast of Thailand just as the tsunami hits. In the wake of this horror, Algie’s characters find their respective destinies and The Phantom Lover takes on the dimensions of classic tragedy with its death and redemption.

This is not a collection of horror stories. Yes, they evoke horror but that’s life. And it’s life that is found in The Phantom Lover, Thai life that flourishes behind the five-star smiles.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 24 April 2014
By Jerome C. Samuelson - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had never read Algie before and his familiarity with Thailand and its people resonates strongly with me. Detail and character, woven into plausible plots that sometimes are directly drawn from actual events, make the stories muscular and gripping.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly recommended read, look out for more from Jim Algie ! 1 Jun 2014
By mike jerome - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Tales of ghosts, magic and other strange happenings are told in a way that keeps you from closing your kindle! Jim Algie’s collection of short stories initially appear as a random compilation, until you begin reading and are entertained by subtle relationships between the distant events and the common threads that bind them together.
I liked the way that occasionally the narrative, lucidly shares the writer’s thoughts on odd human conditions, wrapping the situation around you like you’re right there in the room and making theses supernatural stories seem real! This book takes the spirit of Thailand to new dimensions.
A highly recommended read, look out for more from Jim Algie !
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good stuff 27 May 2014
By Jens Kastner - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book took me 3 days only, and I am in for Algie's next one. It is sick, bloody and funny, in that order.
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