Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hmmm. Should I bother to read this?

There's a new book on Taiwan out by Joshua Samuel Brown, you know, of 'Off the Rails' column in the China Post fame. The title, Vignettes of Taiwan, does not make me want to rush out and get a copy... though it did get a decent review from the Shanghai free monthly, City Weekend, where Brown is now a contributor. But for some reason I doubt this will be as good as John Ross' Formosan Odyssey, which is probably a bit underrated and managed to tell us a few things about the island we didn't already know.


Anonymous Joshua Samuel Brown said...

Yes. Speaking as the author of said book, you should certainly bother to read it. But then again, I would say that, wouldn't I?

Would you like a review copy? My publisher's offered to send you one.

1:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely check it out--it's pure JSB: funny, biting, poignant, strange, wildly but hilariously self-indulgent. It's not a great title but that seems to be an editorial intrusion. Doesn't the picture of Brown on rollerblades waiting at the stoplight sell the book?

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

joshua samuel brown rocks! seriously, the book is really good and worth buying. i got a review copy and read it cover to cover immediately. my favorite story of his remains "supper in uighurville," about the dying days of the weigongcun uighur village in beijing.

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer Moore said...

IMHO Vignettes of Taiwan is a refreshing read broken into managable bit sized chunks. What I think makes it worth the bother is the amusing and personal way that Josh Brown tells his stories. This book is not your standard travel guide filled with generic anecdotes that anyone with a dictionary and a map could have come up with. It is a series of interesting experiences and encounters that a specific person (Mr Brown) has endured to tell the tale. Get the book it is worth the effort.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[full disclosure: i'm a good friend of the author:]

Yes, this book is worth reading!

It's exactly what it says it is: essays, short stories and random meditations about Taiwan. For people thinking about visiting Taiwan or studying there, this would be the perfect primer. (I studied in Taiwan in the 1990s and it would have been awesome to have had a book like this to read before going over.) This is not a book of sociology or a guidebook, but a fun, funny and meandering look at Taiwanese society, cultural and life from the unique point of view of one of the funniest expats in Asia.(You'll be hearing more from Josh in the future, I assure you; and he's already one of the widest-ranging freelancers in Asia.)

The book also features a really generous amount of photographs, including my favorite: Joshua on rollerblades, in the middle of Taipei traffic, looking like a lost hippie. I love that photo and wish it were on the cover or the back of the book.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Nury Vittachi said...

Dear Friendgram, I stumbled onto your blog and just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. I think Taiwan is one of the most underappreciated places on this planet and I'm glad that there are journalists like you rectifying the problem. I'm a writer and I did a sort of "book tour" in schools in Taipei earlier this year--that's when I began to realize what a neat place it was: a sort of more charming, friendlier, calmer version of Hong Kong. Also, I'd like to comment on the Vignettes of Taiwan book. While the overall packaging of the book leaves something to be desired, I found the writing to be enormous fun. JS Brown has an inventive, creative streak that is very rare in Asian journalism. I've met him in the flesh, and he's almost as lively in real life as he is in the page. It would be good to encourage him to produce more ambitious work -- perhaps a proper, full-length book -- and the same for you, too! I hope you are working on a book.

7:09 PM  

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