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July 08 , 2007

Venusberg Revisited: More Stories of Thailand


The Venusberg of the title story is, of course, Bangkok and environs, its Tannhauser an ex-GI who discovers it’s best not to come back. As in Occidental Adam, Oriental Eve, Cadet’s principal theme is the meeting of two cultures, and in this and the other ten stories, his protagonists are seen at frightening, baffling, bizarre and occasionally extremely funny moments in those meetings. A former volunteer remembers the few minutes’ up-country violence that changed his life – an expatriate painter follows the regressive course of the ‘primrose path’ through Bangkok’s night-clubs – a dying tycoon sees heaven and hell in the familiar metropolitan setting – a resourceful country girl discovers a remarkable if chilling remedy for the poverty oppressing her – while down in Pataya, when the US Navy pays a visit, a no-less-resourceful city lady averts potential psycho-nuclear disaster…or so she tells us. 

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John Cadet is well-qualified to write of East and Southeast Asia. He has made his home there, teaching and engaging in journalism, as well as researching Thai literature, since 1961. The shorter of his stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the region and beyond, mostly under the pen-name Charles Browne. The short stories, along with a number of his longer works, are now appearing on the Internet. His study of the Thai epic, The Ramakien, in multiple editions, was published world-wide by Kodansha International. 

“Cadet has something worthwhile to say. (his) characters – from lissome students to diplomatic mediocrities = embody human frailties which make them…real. Venusberg Revisited … is thoroughly recommended and deserves to be widely read.” (Bangkok Post Newspaper)

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