The Evolution of Vincent Calvino by Christopher G. Moore

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Chad Evans’s The World of Vincent Calvino (2015) is an in-depth study of my Vincent Calvino novels. One reviewer of Evans’ book observed that it was an excellent chronological review of the first three decades of the series. In this short retrospective, I won’t come close to matching its multi-level examination of the books in the series as well as placing them in a larger context.

My purpose is more modest. It is to give you some insight in what my literary influences were, the reception of the books, and evolution of author’s mind over a long-time span. There are literary handles to lift under the thinking of an author. Personal temperament, psychology, friends, colleagues, and our profoundly unreliable memories, all are tentacles kneading the clay that becomes the outline of who the author is.

Evans’s reviewer also added “Calvino has matured through the ages…” Maturity is a shortcut to evolution. Calvino as a private eye transplanted from New York to Bangkokg had to adapt to a very different social, cultural and historical ecology than the one he was born to and grew up in. He became a “cultural detective”.

The weight of thirty years will inevitably change all but a superhero character. Calvino was never a member of that club. He was no Peter Pan. No Bruce Wayne. He was very human. He did what he could do and often failed. He was who he was and didn’t pretend to be someone else. He exposed his flaws and defects, accepted the inevitable verdict that all diamonds are flawed. Rather than rejecting the flaws, he embraced them and moved on.

As an author of a long-running crime novel series, I get asked all the time by new readers if the books are to read in chronological order. I’ve always answered no to that question. On reflection, I wonder if I gave it enough thought. The series is not a continuing story with each book a new episode and you’d be lost unless you read the preceding books. All of Vincent Calvino novels stand alone in that sense. But there is another sense in which they fall into groupings. Having just ended the Calvino series, it is reflection about the series that has motivated me to write this synopsis. If you are new to the Calvino series, you might want to figure out how the title you’re thinking of reading fits into the series framework, which is the passage of time and the evolutionary changes that time brings to the characters, Bangkok, Thai people, expats, and the general spirit of the times. I wrote the Calvino series alongside other literary novels and various non-fiction books. They are mentioned as another lens to understand my preoccupations, interests, and literary development.

The books found under each decade of Calvino has its fan base. A lot of fans have stuck with all three decades. But it is human nature to prefer one thing over another. So why should it be any different with books? I’ve found that some of my readers tend to favor a certain period of time reflected in the Calvino books. I’d like to think most friends and readers share an interest in all three decades of Vincent Calvino’s life. But from conversations and reviews, there are some who positively don’t like a certain decade of my Calvino books but prefer others from a different era. What we like or dislike, our taste and preference are uniquely our own. People have a different memory about the past. Changes affects some people more than others. Different people have different views about what a crime or noir novel should be. I accept that Calvino’s evolution doesn’t please every reader. There lies the ultimate Calvino’s law: if you lead your lives simply to please others you will have no life and no real friends.

Like every other writer, I can write about the future, but I can’t write from the future.
The impressions and memories and recollections I am sharing are more like a hand-written map on the back of a restaurant napkin. I’ve finished the journey, and now I’ve gone back over the trail I’ve walked and found some signpost.

The first decade: 1990 to 1999 (6 Calvino novels)

Spirit House (1992)
Asia Hand (1993)
Zero Hour in Phnom Penh (1994)
Comfort Zone (1995)
The Big Weird (1996)
Cold Hit (1999)

This was the old Asia Hand decade. Insider knowledge was needed to navigate this largely hidden world for foreign expatriates. Communications were difficult. People used rotary phones, fax machines and postal mail. This was the pre-Internet, pre-social media world where the fall of the Berlin Wall started the decade. The opening of the BTS, the sky train, in Bangkok ended this period. During this period, I worked as a corporate lawyer and journalist. I spent 6 weeks a year in Vietnam (1990 to 1995) working in a law office in Saigon. I covered the UNTAC period in Cambodia in 1993 as a freelance journalist. I was soaking up multiple histories, cultures, languages, and tensions as change brought conflict.

I’d been a civilian with NYPD for nearly six months in 1986. It was the first time I’d been shot at. In Brooklyn. A ruined, crumpling tunnel of buildings smelling of poverty and fear. I’d been riding with a night patrol. It’d been a shot gun. A couple of shots. Nothing personal. Some homeboys letting them know we’d come onto their turf. My next direct experience with gunfire came in the third decade of writing Calvino. The thing with violence, like sex, the experience left you changed in subtle ways, and consciously or unconsciously the way you fit into the world is never quite the same. In this decade, New York, Saigon, Phnom Penh and Bangkok were far different than they are today.

The memories of those times and places are salted into the Calvino books and other novels written during this decade. The first decade was productive for writing and publishing books. I published 13 books, 6 of them novels in the Calvino series.

My literary influences in the first decade: Nelson Algren (Man with a Golden Arm), Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer), Henry Miler’s publisher and my mentor and friend, Barney Rosset, and Charles Bukowski.

Calvino borrowed from Bukowski three pieces of advice:

“Everything you own must be able to fit inside one suitcase; then your mind might be free.” —Charles Bukowski, Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook: Uncollected Stories and Essays, 1944-1990

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”
—Charles Bukowski

“I wanted the whole world or nothing.”—Charles Bukowski, Post Office

John Berger and Henry Miller gave me the same insight that served me well during this decade. John Berger’s BBC series in the early 70s and the book based on the series were an important influence. Miller understood the same idea. Unless you had a new way of seeing things, there was no point. In writing.

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
—Henry Miller

When I arrived in Bangkok December 1988 I walked off the plane carrying one suitcase and a laptop. Four years earlier, I’d resigned from a tenured position as a law professor at the University of British Columbia. My first novel, His Lordship’s Arsenal, had been accepted by a small New York City publisher in 1985. The acceptance happened over a weekend. I had the crazy idea that I should pursue a writing career. My next crazy idea was to set a novel in Bangkok where I’d visited in 1983. I was attracted to Bangkok as I had been to New York; I walked among people who had allowed themselves to go a little crazy. I drew upon those experiences to find a naturalness in the strangeness, a genius in the way poor people survived, and a profound sadness in the broken dreams and treachery that came to appear as normal.

I was in a position not unlike Henry Miller’s in Paris in the 1930s.

“I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive.”—Henry Miller

And from Nelson Algren, Calvino discovered that many of his cases during this decade resulted from expats failing to follow his advice:

“Never sleep with someone whose troubles are worse than your own.”—Nelson Algren, A Walk on the Wild Side

By the third decade of the series, Calvino had come to realize that Nelson Algren’s advice applied to both men and women.

The reviewers emphasized the dark side of Bangkok as an essential part of the mood of the novel. This review of Spirit House is an example:

“A thinking man’s Philip Marlowe, Calvino is a cynic on the surface but a romantic at heart. Calvino . . . found himself in Bangkok—the end of the world for a whole host of bizarre foreigners unwilling, unable, or uninterested in going home.”
The Daily Yomiuri

For Asia Hand:

“Moore’s stylish second Bangkok thriller… explores the dark side of both Bangkok and the human heart. Felicitous prose speeds the action along….”
Publishers Weekly

The US edition of Asia Hand, won a coveted Shamus Award when published by Grove/Atlantic in 2010, nearly two decade after the original Thai edition by White Lotus.

However, the best-known Calvino novel of this decade, one that was widely translated, was Zero Hour in Phnom Penh (1994). This novel was the first introduction I’d overtly made by examining the dark side of a traumatized population and how they existed in a world of power, influence and violence. As the third Calvino novel in the series, Zero Hour in Phnom Penh won a German Critics Award for international crime fiction in 2004 and Premier Special Director Book Award Semana Negra, Spain in 2007.

“Much more than a thriller, Zero Hour in Phnom Penh is a fresco of Cambodia and its people, their despair, their hopes, their fears, their lives. And that’s what makes this book a single work, much deeper than what can be expected to begin reading.”

The Europeans in particular like Zero Hour in Phnom Penh (originally published under the title Cut Out in English). A French drew favorable reviews along these lines:

“An excellent hardboiled whodunnit, a noir novel with a solitary, disillusioned but tempting detective in an interesting social, historical context (of post-Pol Pot Cambodia), and a very thorough psychological study of the characters.”—La culture se partage

The decade of the 1990s ended as it had begun with Vincent Calvino’s investigations taking him into the nightlife of Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza. The cultural clashes and the growing confidence of women indicated that changes in attitude were evolving quickly. The first glimmer of online hookups was featured in 1996 with The Big Weird, which predicted sexuality would migrate to the digital world.

German reviewers sometimes played up the bawdy underbelly of Bangkok and the action elements of Cold Hit. Cold Hit was later translated into three other languages, German, Japanese and Chinese. It was a mirror about a way of life that had changed with the technology, better transportation, more jobs, and the start of a new class of mass tourists.

“City jungle, sex, drugs, power, but also good-hearted people: a complete crime.”
Zwanzig Minuten Zürich

“A colourful piece, rich in action, of detective literature.”

During this decade, in which I wrote 6 Calvino novels, I also published 7 other books:

Literary novels: Enemies of Memory (later retitled: Tokyo Joe) (1990); A Killing Smile (1991), A Bewitching Smile (1992), A Haunting Smile (1993), Saint Anne (later retitled: Red Sky Falling) (1994), God of Darkness (1998).

Non-fiction: Heart Talk (350 Jai phrases) (1992)

The Second Decade: 2000 to 2009 (4 Calvino novels)

Minor Wife (2002)
Pattaya 24/7 (2004)
The Risk of Infidelity Index (2007)
Paying Back Jack (2009)

The 2000s could be described as the post-Asian economic crash era, with the arrivals of more diverse groups of foreigners. The Calvino novels had at their heart always been about cross-cultural relationships, misunderstandings, failures of communication, deceit, mistrust, and psychological separation at accompanies an expat life.

The power relations between people are explored in the first two novels of this decade. A minor or secondary wife in the first novel and a local warlord in the second novel of the period. These power dynamics show a social and political transition, a shifting of authority, and the emergence of a modern sensibility.

My earlier literary influences continued to appear in the second decade books. But something had shifted in my way of seeing the world. The role of chance, randomness, and luck pushed into the books. Robertson Davies, The Fifth Business, taught me that the impulsive act of throwing a snowball was an event that could echo through the entire lives of people, shaping, defining, restricting those lives in untoward ways. There was never any snow in Bangkok but that didn’t stop me from throwing metaphorical snowballs. During this decade, the books explored what filled the vacuum of fidelity and trust in relationships. These four novels shown a world of terror, submission, domination schemes, and plots to control the minds and hearts of others. Bangkok (and Pattaya) served to be the backdrop to the tensions, suspicions, and amorality that surfaced in cultural clashes.

“Moore pursues in even greater detail in Minor Wife the changing social roles of Thai women (changing, but not always quickly or for the better) and their relations among themselves and across class lines and other barriers.”—Vancouver Sun

Some reviewers were finding the novels could be read at different levels.

“Moore’s literary talents are obvious. This book is deeper than the well one of the characters was fished out of.”—Pattaya Mail

In this decade the Calvino novels began to attract a larger international audience, especially in North America. The latter two of the four books, had a large publishing run in New York City and were widely reviewed. In The Risk of Infidelity Index and Paying Back Jack, the political dimensions are at the forefront. Calvino finds a Bangkok more dangerous, less understandable, and he realizes the loss of coherence is caused by forces beyond his control.

Reviewers read the last two books of this decade as thriller, noir fiction about the underworld of Bangkok.

“Grim, violent, and saturated in details of Bangkok’s underworld.”—The Boston Globe

“The Risk of Infidelity Index is a complex, violent, and high readable thriller.” —One80 News (UK)

With Paying Back Jack, international reviewers understood that the books were less about the bars and nightlife than the connection between the criminal class, the powerful, and their networks that extended deep into the night life. The plot took the reader behind the scenes into the world of people involved in the secret prisons run by the Americans in Bangkok,

“Moore reveals the seething stew of wealth, corruption, cultural clashes, poverty and lust that is modern Bangkok . . . all will appreciate the raw passion that drives the action.”—Publishers Weekly

“A rich panorama of east meets west. This time round Calvino is drawn into the murky world of private prisons, political assassination and UN officialdom…. Whether you try it for the exotic setting, the hard-boiled hero or the intrigue and action, you won’t be disappointed. And you’ll be back for more!”—Chris Bilkey, Crime Buzz

During the second decade I wrote 4 Calvino novels and also published 3 other books:

Fiction: Chairs (2000), Waiting for the Lady (2003), Gambling on Magic (2005)

The Third Decade: 2010 to 2019 (6 Calvino novels)

The Corruptionist (2010)
9 Gold Bullets (2011)
Missing in Rangoon (2013)
The Marriage Tree (2014)
Crackdown (2015)
Jumpers (2016)

I started Calvino’s third decade without an international publisher. This decade found the Calvino series more isolated from its international audience. Translations had dried up. Grove/Atlantic published books from the first and second decade. By the third decade they discontinued publishing the Calvino novels. Publishing had changed. The digital world brought e-books. As a footnote, Spirit House may go down as the first Amazon #1 ranked eBook holding that spot for two weeks. The deal with Jeff Bezos and my publisher at the time had been unique. Spirit House was offered for free during those two weeks. At the end, when a price tag was placed on the eBook edition of Spirit House, it sank faster than an aircraft carrier’s anchor into the vast ocean of e-books.

The American critics had supported the series; but unfortunately, not enough American readers had signed on to a journey with Vincent Calvino to Bangkok or elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Later into this decade, readers of fiction bought fewer hardbacks, trade editions; e-books were the rage. By the end of the decade, everyone, reader and non-reader, flocked to various blogs, YouTube, podcasts, and new social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. People gradually transported their lives into the online world where they could lose themselves in thousands of rabbit holes.

The third decade opened with civil unrest in Bangkok, that would lead to one of the bloodiest military crackdowns of political protests in modern Thai history with at least 99 people killed and thousands injured. For about a week in May 2010, I walked along Rama IV Road, filming what I witnessed, venturing to the frontlines beyond which military units were in position. Tires were set afire. The unmistakable sound of gunfire. The sight of people, running, ducking, monks crouching in a doorway. Their faces filled with fear and terror. From my condo balcony I watched columns of black smoke rising from fires across the city. One of those eventful days, I witnessed a crowd set fire to the Securities and Exchange Building of Thailand and saw how they threw stones at the fire brigade that arrived, only to quickly withdraw. Night after night, with the blackout and curfew restrictions, my wife and I heard gunfire. We looked out into darkness. Most nights a lone motorcyclist blasted down Ratchadaphisek Road as if chased by dragons.

The third decade of Calvino started with being in the line of fire. There is nothing quite like being pinned down by gunfire in a crowd. Or hearing the report and seeing the distant muzzle flash of guns from your balcony. It changes you as a writer in ways that you understand characters and the fear that shapes them. When I look back at that time, I remember what Orwell wrote about in Homage to Catalonia. I never experienced even a small portion of what befell Orwell, but I’d seen enough to know that he was right.

“I believe that on such an issue as this no one is or can be completely truthful. It is difficult to be certain about anything except what you have seen with your own eyes, and consciously or unconsciously everyone writes as a partisan.”—George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia

It was during this decade that I began writing and publishing essays that were collected and later published in a series of books. I also reached out to the larger community of writers as editor of three anthologies in order to show the diversity of voices in the noir community.

My literary influences during this period were Borges, Camus, Orwell, and Saramago.
The politically charged imagination of George Orwell runs like a river through the landscape of these six novels. Orwell had been a colonial official in Burma. I loved his Burmese Days, his first novel, where he recorded his experiences as well as Shooting an Elephant, his short story.

The pull of Orwell was powerful gravity.

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.” —George Orwell, 1984

Like Henry Miller, Orwell visited the idea of insanity and that had a great appeal during this decade.

“I enjoy talking to you. Your mind appeals to me. It resembles my own mind except that you happen to be insane.”—George Orwell, 1984

But I also understood the practical point expressed by José Saramago.

“That’s how life is, what it gives with one hand one day, it takes away with the other.”—José Saramago, Death with Interruptions

The last novel in this decade was inspired by Camus.

“The only serious question in life is whether to kill yourself or not.”—Albert Camus

These words by Camus were never far away from my imagination in writing these novels. “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” To me that was the ultimate challenge of imagination. The sheer magnitude of his vision is beyond my limited abilities to convey. His mind erected a range of mountains that never ended. He loved labyrinths. He taught me what the represented and how they were constructed.

“There is no need to build a labyrinth when the entire universe is one.”—Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings

He taught me the nature of time, not from the laws of physics, but from our position in nature.

“Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.”—Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings

I was never happier than during the third decade. I’d found my voice as an author. I had listened to my literary mentors, observed their warnings, advice, and directions. From Borges, I understood that all along I had been drawing a map about the landscape Vincent Calvino had traveled. These books were signposts on a journey into what I labelled as the Great Unraveling. The foundation of the earlier decades—socially, politically and economically—had begun to collapse, slowly, gradually, but with the eerily feeling that the center would not hold. In these books, Calvino is caught up in cultures where the rate of change accelerated at a dizzy velocity. His cases took him into the midst of major changes in the structure of how things had been done in Bangkok, Rangoon, New York City into labyrinths connected by a tunnel of terror, humiliation and unreliable memories. The hourglass was running out of sand.

Perhaps no other author influenced me more than Borges. It is difficult to know which of his words to illustrate the power he brought to bear on my way of seeing the world.
I started out with a controversial title in The Corruptionist. Bernard Trink, legendary Nite Owl, caught the meaning.

“Politics . . . has a role in the series, more so now than earlier. What with corruption during elections and coups afterwards, the denizens watch with bemusement the unlikelihood of those in office serving their terms. Moore captures this in his books. Thought-provoking columnists don’t do it better. . . . Moore is putting Thailand on the map.”—Bernard Trink, Bangkok Post

In 9 Gold Bullet, Calvino returned to his native New York, Pratt, also a former New Yorker, had gone along in his official capacity in the Royal Thai Police Force. New York changed; both Calvino and Pratt had changed, too. Calvino learnt an important lesson. The old New York had died while he’d been living in Bangkok. He couldn’t go back home. He was home.

During this decade I wrote three novels later packaged as the Great Unraveling trilogy—Missing in Rangoon, The Marriage Tree and Crackdown. In part, I suspect these novels are linked to those long nights of gunfire in 2010. Something had changed the way I saw political power, repression, and injustice. The political and economic corruption combined to drive the story in Missing in Rangoon. The fate of the Rohingya’s and the underground network that tried to help them featured in the Marriage Tree. In Crackdown, the military was in power, there were student protests, public demonstrations, and Cambodian living and working in Bangkok were given short notice to leave the country. This decade roiled with political turmoil that continued until the end of the decade. As an examination of a crucial period of time, the political cycle of freedom and hope that had begun the series with the fall of the Berlin Wall ended. I sought to capture that atmosphere in these three novels.

Calvino suffers a mental breakdown, being haunted by Missing in Rangoon, which proved too much for him, but he came out the other end much wiser and more mature than before. You can even say Calvino evolved, adapted to the new environment. He found a way to help and to survive—not always a possible combination. Some readers confide in me that the third decade is the most important one for the Calvino series. We no longer have the newbie private eye, we have moved beyond the cynical, seen it all private investigator, and Calvino emerges with a renewed sense of the what the Stoics taught: learn to distinguish between the things you can control, and those you can’t. Let go of those beyond your control. It came as no surprise to many readers, that when Calvino returned to North America in Jumpers, he had decide to decamp from the City of Angels. By the start of the fourth decade, Calvino has returned to Bangkok after a long absence.

During this decade, my passion for exploring war crimes, murder rates, the rule of law, on writing, government, and technology. I’d read widely in a number of domains. Finding ways to open a wider world of ideas in order to connect the invisible dots linking events, thoughts and technology. The essays stimulated my imagination as returned to working on a Calvino novel. Some readers only know me from my essays. For me there was an interplay between the essays and the novels. I wrote an essay a week for over five-years. Selected essays were published in four of the books mentioned below. In writing essays, I’d paid homage to the writers who had influenced my career. It was during this essay, I understood the compulsion to dispense with plot, story and character and to go for the throat.

During the third decade where I wrote 6 Calvino novels, and also published 13 other books:

Fiction: The Wisdom of Beer (2012), Reunion (novella) (2013)

Non-fiction: Heart Talk (3rd Ed. 850 Jai phrases) (2005), The Vincent Calvino Reader’s Guide (2010), The Cultural Detective (2011), Faking It in Bangkok (2012), Fear and Loathing in Bangkok (2014), The Age of Dis-Consent (2015), Memory Manifesto: A Walking Meditation through Cambodia (2017), Rooms: On Human Domestication and Submission (2019).

Anthologies (Editor and contributor): Bangkok Noir (2011), Phnom Penh Noir (2012), The Orwell Brigade (2012).

The Fourth Decade: 2020 (1 book, so far)

The Vincent Calvino series ends.

Dance Me to the End of Time (2020)

Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski have receded as influences. Borges and Camus’ grip on my thinking continued through the final book. George Orwell’s mines had no new veins of ore. Aldous Huxley’s mind/mine opened a new door. As did my readings in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, bioengineering and climate change, the outside world of physics and the mathematical universe slowly carved new windows into my perception.

The journey ends with the 17th novel in the series. Dance Me to the End of Time is set at an unspecified date in the future. The impact of climate change has caused a great upheaval in the social, political and economic fabric. Calvino pursues a missing person case in a transformed environment which deconstructs the framework, network and infrastructure of the first three decades. I had been waiting for the right time and context before I brought Calvino back after he’d disappeared at the end of Jumpers. Many readers thought the Calvino series had ended with Jumpers. I felt that would have been a terrible way to end the series. You don’t create a myth by running away from reality; the myth-makers are those who run toward the gunfire. The kind of behavior that is mostly the realm of fiction. In real life, you crouch down, roll into a doorway, keep your head down.

Fiction is, in many ways, the enterprise of mythmaking. Storytelling and narrative construction are the scaffolding for building an idea of who we are, where we are, what this place is, why here and not there, and I’d been examining life for more than thirty years. It was time to step back from the gradual evolution of Calvino’s mythmaking enterprise and ask some of the larger questions in a future that is set to deliver a great upheaval.

You can expect many writers in this fourth decade to be leaving messages for a future generation. A message in a bottle cast into the ocean of the future. We cared. We tried. We hope the myths we’ve passed down to you are carrying you on the leaf of life down a stream that still flows with water you can drink.

When a writer ends a long-standing series, what is to become of the central characters? The obvious solution is they go out in a blaze of glory like Robert Redford and Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. While I loved that movie and thought the ending was deserved and appropriate, but 2020 was no longer 1969. That ending fifty years later had become a cliché. It would have been inconceivable in 1990 when I started researching and writing Spirit House, that one day in the future I would be explaining the reasons for ending a long-running series.

It is no surprise that reception of the last book in the Vincent Calvino series has been labelled “dystopian”. Writing about the aftermath of climate change in the future constructs a drought ridden world, the institutions mostly collapsed, and society reorganized to adapt to the new environment of extreme heat, extreme weather, and a city under water. It is easy to turn away from this vision as it lies beyond the lies of the old.

The top rung of the ladder, looking out, Dance Me to the End of Time ultimately is a story of hope. No matter how dark things become, leaving people lost in the labyrinth without hope inflicts a terrible wound. A vertigo that robs people of the one thing required to answer Camus’s question: “The only serious question in life is whether to kill yourself or not.”

The darker the vision, the more important it becomes to locate and mark the trail of hope. As Leonard Cohen’s lyrics instruct, There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in–

Dance Me to the End of Time (a nod to Cohen) discovers that crack. There is light, dim, fragile, but light, nonetheless. When I think back over those last three decades, and the literary influences I’ve mentioned, there is a huge gap. Let me fill it. Leonard Cohen’s songs were a defining influence, marched in the shadows beside me during all of those years. Whispering like the wind. With this book, I knew that I had realized something that had eluded me all of those years—an inner peace, an understanding of the our personal boundaries, and the strength to find hope at the darkest hour.

Some have said to me the last book in the Calvino series is a “masterpiece”. Others have registered a deep disappointment that Bangkok and Vinny Calvino of the first decade no longer are recognizable at the start of the fourth decade. I end with Borges still exploring the labyrinths,

“The fact is that every writer creates his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.” Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths

It’s early days in the fourth decade. I’ve published no other book in 2020. I’ve founded Changing Climate, Changing Lives Film Festival 2020. This is a new direction into a different medium. As for new books to be published between 2020 and 2029, my crystal ball is cloudy. A writer never knows when his last book is his final book. All one can say for certain is there is always a final book. While Calvino won’t be back, hopefully I will. Stay tuned.


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