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Member: BangkokYankee

CollectionseBooks (60), Recorded music (389), Your library (4,765), Fiction (179), Wishlist (15), Read but unowned (1), All collections (4,805)


TagsBooks about books (257), Fiction HB (195), CD Jazz (192), Library of America (169), Folio Society (153), Fiction PB (131), Time Reading Program (109), Religion (92), Voyages & travels (91), American history (90) — see all tags

MediaNot set (7), Book (4,359), Paper Book (4,267), Audiobook (58), Ebook (18), Sound Recording (389), Digital sound recording (4), CD sound recording (380), Phono record sound recording (5), Video Recording (39), DVD (39), Other (3), Map (2), Software (1), Unknown (8)

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About meI grew up in Chicago in the 1960's. I was educated at Georgetown, and stumbled around in medicine and then in motion picture production for ten years. In the 1980’s my movie work brought me to Thailand at the height of the Indochinese refugee crisis. I became a refugee officer, and stayed on in Southeast Asia (Bangkok, Saigon, and East Timor) for 20 years, working for various agencies involved in refugee resettlement, international development, and military demobilization. One of my greatest pleasures has been tramping in the forests of northern Thailand, Laos, and rebel-held Burma, where I was a guest of many of the tribal groups that inhabit the hills and borderlands. Another great pleasure was consorting with the photographers, journalists, mercenaries, and spooks that were similarly drawn to these troubled and enchanting lands. Once peace and over-development came to the region and age and gravity made it harder to walk the hills, I returned to the US. I make my living now as a minor government official. I live in a crumbling villa on the outskirts of Chicago with my wife (a Cambodian refugee with story of survival more fascinating than anything on my shelves), surrounded by some 10,000 books, records, old negatives and some cheese.

About my libraryBefore leaving for Bangkok in the early 1980's I dragged a couple dozen boxes of treasured books to my girlfriend’s house, promising I’d be by to pick them up in a few months. Haven’t seen the books since, and I miss each and every one. Good books were hard to come by in Southeast Asia. There were no public libraries and books (if you did manage to find something interesting) were expensive and hard to keep, what with the heat and humidity, the bugs and the borrowers. By the time I returned home I was literally starving. Thank heaven for FOL book sales, ABE, Amazon, and an understanding wife, as I sought to rebuild a gentleman’s library I would never lose hold of again. I’m just beginning to catalog now, in late 2014, as a first step to weeding my collection and making my home habitable again. I’m a fan of the “Great Books”, and I enjoy reading classic memoirs of travel and exploration, Southeast Asian history, British colonial military history, and the history of science. I also have an interest in collecting the Encyclopaedia Britannica in each of its 15 editions, as a kind of compendium of man's changing understanding of the world since the Enlightenment - and I continue to hunt for decent copies of a few elusive early editions.

Here’s something I read the other day:

"The books we buy are almost as important as those we read… Looking around my own obsessively crowded shelves, I see there are two categories of books I tend to keep: those I love and those I hope one day to read. If the books we read reflect the person we are, the books we hope to read might just be who we aspire to be...With each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not…We are our books, the ones we struggle with, the ones we put down and the ones we can’t, the ones we still hope to read, and, of course, the ones that we love."

(Jess Walter, from his introduction to Ten Years in the Tub: a decade soaking in great books, by Nick Hornby)

And this:

"At least, thought Amalfitano, I’ve read thousands of books. At least I’ve become acquainted with the Poets and read the Novels. (The Poets, in Amalfitano’s view, were those beings who flashed like lightning bolts, and the Novels were the stories that sprang from Don Quixote.) At least I’ve read. At least I can still read, he said to himself, at once dubious and hopeful."

- Roberto Bolano, Woes of the True Policeman

GroupsBook Care and Repair, Bookcases: If You Build/Buy Them, They Will Fill, Easton Press Collectors, Fine Press Forum, Flashman and Fraser, Folio Society devotees, George Macy devotees, Non-Fiction Readers, Travel and Exploration literature

Favorite authorsMaurice Collis, Joseph Conrad, E. E. Cummings, Michael Dirda, T. S. Eliot, George MacDonald Fraser, Norman Lewis, Gabriel García Márquez, Vladimir Nabokov, Kenneth Rexroth, Dr. Seuss, Nathanael West, P. G. Wodehouse, William Butler Yeats (Shared favorites)

LocationChicago suburbs

Account typepublic

URLs /profile/BangkokYankee (profile)
/catalog/BangkokYankee (library)

Member sinceOct 4, 2009

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