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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bequiling illusion
Mr. Chua's novel is both compelling and jarring. One thread of the narrative is a coy, enticing peek into the underbelly of Thailand's sexual trade that invites as it sickens. Simultaneously, another thread accusingly points out the rape of the country and its people by both Western invasion and internal greed. The narrator's native land is not what he wants it to be,...
Published on 7 July 1998

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious racialist trash
The colonizer here is a Malaysian-born New Yorker pursuing the inscrutable orientalized (Thai) hustler and taking out some of his aggressions on a European (Danish) tourist. Of course, the unnamed narrator considers himself a victim--not how most Malaysians regard families like his.
Published on 22 Aug 1999


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bequiling illusion, 7 July 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Gold by the Inch (Hardcover)
Mr. Chua's novel is both compelling and jarring. One thread of the narrative is a coy, enticing peek into the underbelly of Thailand's sexual trade that invites as it sickens. Simultaneously, another thread accusingly points out the rape of the country and its people by both Western invasion and internal greed. The narrator's native land is not what he wants it to be, nor can it ever be. As he bitterly discovers -- aiming his distaste at his prostituted homeland and, through manipulations of narrative structure, his prostituted self -- one can never go home. One can, however, discover some rather ugly truths about oneself on the trip. Written in an clipped, disturbing style, Chua's vivid images of the world the narrator finds abroad are haunting and beautiful, falling easily across the pages like shiny marbles one wants to gather together but finds recklessly spilling onto the floor. Some reviewers have complained that the novel is not satisfying enough in reaching its ambitions, leaving readers wanting more. But I feel being intentionally deprived in this sense only underlines Chua's point: the culture of purchased sex and plentiful drugs is only a limited, temporary satisfaction for a person/nation being lead into self-destruction while searching in vain for lost foundations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious racialist trash, 22 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Gold by the Inch (Hardcover)
The colonizer here is a Malaysian-born New Yorker pursuing the inscrutable orientalized (Thai) hustler and taking out some of his aggressions on a European (Danish) tourist. Of course, the unnamed narrator considers himself a victim--not how most Malaysians regard families like his.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most Forward Looking Book of the Year, 7 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Gold by the Inch (Hardcover)
Chua's novel has garnared mixed critical reception in large part because he succeeds so boldly in inventing a new literary language. The novel's experience hinges on the interplay between it's artfully wrought chapters, the space between words as important as the words themselves. Like Toni Morrison did with Beloved, Chua not only challenges the legitimacy of master narratives, his stylistic choices also find a way to write past them. A challenging and unsettling read that remains fully engaging. Chua is a writer to watch closely.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Too many subplots and not enough reflection, 22 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Gold by the Inch (Hardcover)
I think the NYT Book Review summarized it best... "too diffused and stylized to provide a deeper reflection." It's a pity that the writer succumbed to stylizing his prose because he has a keen eye for observation which is unfortunately lost in trying to be too cute.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wine turned blood, fantasy made real in brown flesh., 1 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Gold by the Inch (Hardcover)
"Its those vines. They always bring you back to the forest" (59). This book is the wine turned blood, fantasy made real in flesh. Vulgar. Hard. My ever-shifting diasporan world contextualized through Lawrence's haunting precision of an eye: Plaridel, Nueva York, Daly City, Maui. Violent Empowerment. Colonial Violence. History's infinite expanse recycled into stolen tongues, brownlands, coca leaves. Queens, prostitues and manlovers are humanized. Borderless maps drawn with history's desires. Lawrence constructs a blueprint for my kind's existence by narrating our real encounters. He is an architect of souls. I too am in love with his badboy, Thong. Thong can devour my dreams anytime. Lawrence is my twin. The only difference is he writes in pages, i live in them. The language of the book has got this beat. It brings me back to the ghetto lifestyle, WUTANG slicing their tracks and Nas verse-writing. Utang means debt where am from. Props. My newyorkcity summer feels like home as I pull the book away from my face. Browner!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I was left on the beach while Lawrence splashed in the deep, 8 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Gold by the Inch (Hardcover)
I recently read Lawrence Chua's rendering of a young man's experience of returning to Thailand to confront himself. I was on vacation in Bangkok/Pattaya at the time and the images he drew were all too real for me. Unfortunately the spell was broken from time to time when Lawrence seemed to go a little too deep or symbolic. It seemed as though he was writing for himself and not the reader. I felt that I needed a little more clarity before he went spinning off into all of the little word-game images.
The parts that were "right on" were the narrative and the description of the environment, whether it was the inside of a toilet, the coast line, or a hotel room. I felt the abandoned feeling from the drugs and the not-belonging of the protagonist. I felt him searching and trying to connect as I have done, although in a much different way. I could not ignore my own desperation when reading Gold by the Inch. Lawrence esposed several different relationships and kept a relentless pressure in regards to confronting oneself. The culmination of which, for me, was how to determine the value of ourself and other people and then extract every ounce of it before discarding the human being.
Lawrence Chua has written a very believable novel and I am anxious to order another and see if he can raise the same feelings and discover the same hiding places he found with Gold by the Inch. And, by the way, what a great title.
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Gold by the Inch: A Novel
Gold by the Inch: A Novel by Lawrence Chua (Paperback - 13 Sep 1999)
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