The Year of Living Dangerously

The Year of Living Dangerously The Year of Living Dangerously, the 1978 novel by C.J Koch, is a towering disappointment as reading material I say that as someone who loves the 1982 film based on Koch s book a classic, end of summer romance of tremendous passion and sophistication starring Mel Gibson, Sigoruney Weaver and in her Academy Award winning performance as a male Chinese Australian dwarf, Linda Hunt but who also has a particular distaste for passive narrators who observe characters through a telephoto lens In Koch s book, the emotional stakes are distant, the passion and intensity fleeting and the information dumps sky high in what should have been a compelling narrative.The story is the first person account of Cook, an Australian reporter in his late thirties who bares an awful resemblance to Koch and conveniently observes all In the summer of 1965, Cook is posted in the sweltering Indonesian capitol of Jakarta, where populist strongman Sukarno placates his impoverished people with threats against the West and promises a return to glory At the Wayang Bar, an oasis for the foreign press corps inside the air conditioned Hotel Indonesia, a Chinese Australian dwarf and freelance photographer named Billy Kwan introduces himself to Guy Hamilton, the newly arrived correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Service Kwan recognizes in Hamilton dashing good looks and naked ambition, as well as the newsman s existential problem The ABS correspondent Hamilton has been sent to replace left Indonesia without showing Hamilton the ropes or sharing what contacts he had Kwan takes Hamilton outside the hotel compound for a stroll through the slums, exposing him to the poverty and degradation of the people, voicing support for the overtures Sukarno is making to improve their living conditions The next morning, Kwan proposes a partnership Hamilton for the words, Billy for the pictures and offers to help him build contacts in both Sukarno s government and in the Communist insurgency, the PKI Hamilton ashed his cigar, and studied the end of it for some moments without speaking He began now to entertain a suspicion which was to be the subject of a number of discussions in the Wayang Bar that Kwan was involved with the PKI, and was perhaps a Communist Party member This might cause trouble in the future but he decided not to question his good luck If this works out, he said finally, I ll make a deal with you I ll give you all the film you can handle from now on I ll use no one else, and you won t need to scratch for work again There s just one condition You check in with me every day before you take any other assignments and if you have any contacts like this, you give them to me Okay Kwan blinked twice, then broke into a broad grin Fine, he said That s what I ve always wanted a real partnership You re a hard bugger, but I think you and I will get on, Guy He jerked in his chair You ll get an interview that ll make an international stir It ll get things rattling on the diplomatic circuit here, I can tell you An interview like this needs a good instrument to transmit it His chin lifted, and his face wore a new expression one of almost fatuous pride I ve chosen a good instrument, he said.At the pool behind the hotel, Kwan introduces Hamilton to Jill Bryant, a secretary at the British Embassy who works for Col Ralph Henderson, British Military Attache One of the few single white women in Jakarta, Jill is heavily pursued but wary of involvement with another man after her affair with a French diplomat ended badly Her friendship with Billy serves to keep suitors away, but having met with the cameraman s approval, Hamilton gets the impression that Billy is conspiring to get him together with Jill He wins points with Billy by deliberately losing a swimming race against the Colonel when he sees how bad the elder Brit wants to win.The top foreign newsmen a British fop named Wally O Sullivan and a crass Canadian correspondent named Pete Curtis have to concede that Hamilton has usurped them with his scoops While Curtis makes no secret of his taste for the Javanese prostitutes who sell themselves outside the cemetery after dark, Cook carries the secret of Wally s sex life a proclivity for young men Cook s confidence with Hamilton reveals no sexual perversions, only a blind pursuit for something big on the horizon Hamilton is assisted in his work by an Indonesian named Kumar who the newsman is generous toward and respectful of, but begins to suspect is affiliated with the PKI.Once Hamilton and Jill become lovers with Billy s blessing and even encouragement to use his garden bungalow for privacy, which Guy is given a key to the photographer s behavior grows erratic Jakarta is edging closer to civil war Jill dispels Hamilton s suspicion of her long hours working with the Colonel by revealing that the Chinese have floated an arms shipment to the PKI Hamilton refuses to promise he won t use this bombshell in his reports, estranging himself both from his lover and from his partner Billy grows increasingly disillusioned with President Sukarno as well and begins to assume all the characteristics of an assassin Having gone to earth, Billy Kwan preoccupied us in the Wayang than he had done when he was visible Perhaps it was a symptom of our own general exhaustion and malaise Even Henri Bouchard and Kevin Condon discussed him to an extent they would not normally have done Wally s expulsion, and Kwan s suspected part in it, made some post mortems inevitable, but they continued to a morbid extent we were like voyagers on a cruise that had gone on too long And outrage became replaced by a black amusement. The Year of Living Dangerously has some vivid writing in it Its strength is the eloquence in which Koch describes the atmosphere of Jakarta and how it serves as a pressure cooker for his characters Koch, a radio producer for the Australian Broadcasting Service in Sydney for many years before he became a full time writer, based much of Guy Hamilton on his younger brother Philip, who covered Sukarno s downfall and signed his broadcasts off in much the same manner as Hamilton does Hamilton, a prince, and Billy, a dwarf who serves the prince, would appear to have a dynamic relationship, juxtaposed nicely against the lore of the wayang kulit, the Indonesian shadow puppet theater..The critical flaw in the novel is the use of the author surrogate Cook to tell the reader everything We are told about Sukarno We are told about Javanese culture We are told what Jill Bryant looks like, exhaustively We are told what characters are thinking and what they uttered in private conversations with each other, even though Cook would have no insight into most of these details Some of his information is vital to the story but very little of it revealed through the actions of the characters, which are Hamilton and Billy Guy Jill s romance is largely absentee here, communicated to the reader with all the excitement of a letter a mother might write you while you were at summer camp.The novel goes off the rails when Koch drops Billy from the story and follows Hamilton on holiday to Tugu, where Kumar arranges a rendezvous with a Russian spy who wants the itinerary of the Chinese arms shipment and is prepared to seduce Guy to get it This transaction was dropped from the Australian American production directed by Peter Weir and adapted by C.J Koch and Peter Weir David Williamson, which focuses on A Love Caught In The Fire Of Revolution Hunt s award winning performance as Billy Kwan gives the character a gentle nature not evident in the book, where Billy is often depicted as an exotic creep a la Peter Lorre. This book is complete and utter shit It s racist, ableist, fat phobic, sexist and orientalist, and it manages to do all this in only the first four pages It is Indonesian post colonial history written from a white colonial gaze It s disgusting It makes Indonesians and Sukarno seem like mindless idiots, like they have no political acumen, and what is to be expected when it is written by a white man White people hate it when we refuse to allow them to exploit and rule us any and so this shit is what we get White people giving this book a good review, you re all fucking racists The Indonesians giving it a good review You re even worse You ve bought a version of yourself the White man is selling you Your internalized racism makes you even disgusting than the White man cos it s your own people you re selling out If I could give this book a negative star I would This book is only for the Asians who like to put down other Asians to get the White mans approval, and the Whites yearning for the good old days where they were rich and could do as they please and think they are somehow better than the rest of us mindless savages Everyone else, please go read things written by actual Indionesians with a much nuanced user standing of post colonial Indonesia. It s always difficult to believe that someone we know well has crossed into that territory where no one from our side can reach him, and from which messages crackle back that no longer make any sense.Ooooooookaaaaaay So This was a friend read with Joe Valdez This book is not what I thought it was going to be, AT ALL BASIC PLOT The whites stationed in Jakarta, Indonesia form a relatively tight knit group made up of diplomats, journalists and cameramen Billy Kwan is a half Chinese, half Irish Australian and a dwarf He is passionate about helping the poor, keeps elaborate dossiers on all his friends, and is a megalomaniac who thinks he s somewhat of a god The book, like many many books, implies Kwan is fucked up in the head because he is a dwarf and half Chinese.Hamilton is a basically good guy, but glaringly stupid, and he falls into being Kwan s best friend, not realizing the extent of Kwan s machinations on his life Let s talk about its strengths and weaknesses.STRENGTHS 1 It s as if you are IN Indonesia The book is absolutely transporting, you can feel it throbbing with life beneath your fingertips Swift evening spreads across Jakarta The city lies inert in a hot brown twilight, which smells of petrol, frangipani, and fear All energy burns low, like the failing street lights but fear mounts like erotic excitement in these stormy nights of the north west monsoon Jakarta waits always for explosions.2 Koch is a good author He writes good sentences and is no slouch when it comes to telegraphing both scenery and human nature Despite Billy s eccentricity, I had not considered him until that moment to be anything but troubled in a way natural to a man with his disadvantages This last remark, spoken as though to himself, had opened a door I felt that I was being warned But I put the feeling aside, as we nearly always do such warnings.WEAKNESSES 1 The main weakness here, the most disappointing part of the book, is the plot.Not because, as many claim, this is too political to be read, understood, and liked by the masses, but simply because Koch is not good at writing human stories of human interest.As in many books, there is the political intrigue story which runs through the whole book, and then there is the human interest story, the story that deals with how the characters relate love hate and interact with each other It s on this human note that the book fails.I thought you just said that one of Koch s strengths is writing about human nature.Yes, it s true that Koch slips little well written gems about the nature of humans into his book However, from a plot angle the book is lacking Our lead, Hamilton, is likable but deeply stupid and it s sometimes hard for the reader to watch his stupid lurchings The characters interact with each other in a kind of superficial way which does not endear you to any of them nor cause you to care when they reach some sort of crisis This is the book s ultimate failure.I guess one could consider this weakness a strength because it is very true to life People do things for no discernible reason, and life s mundane conclusions are everyday However, I read novels to feel for the characters and get worked up about their lives and situations Koch is unable to wrest those feelings from me There s a whole lot of build up and then little consequence Billy Kwan might be a spy He is keeping tabs on his friends He s full of delusions of grandeur But, you know, nothing really comes of this Hamilton and Jillie are having a love affair He s commitment phobic She s view spoiler pregnant hide spoiler I may be one of the few people who never saw the movie but I really enjoyed the book The author was really good at creating the atmosphere of Jakarta, the heat, the smells and the poverty of the local people The story was fascinating, not just the politics of the day but also the life and interactions between the visiting Western journalists Beautifully written and very interesting. Thirty years after I first read this, Koch s writing still evokes the same sensations and feeling it did originally It is if I had only read it yesterday The now long gone era of post colonialist fervor of Indonesia in the pre Suharto days of the Bung Karno Sukarno s mad regime is brought to life if only in the dreams of the characters and shadows of wayang kulit puppets to the sound of the gamelan music.While the style of writing may be different than current fashion dictates, it is not dated and perhaps borders on ethereal overlaid by a first person perfect journalistic commentary.The Year of Living Dangerously is the god king Sukarno terminology for a stage of behavior of his people to employ in their struggle with the rest of the world during 1965 Confrontation and other mad, as insane, phrases and reinvented words are bandied about in the politics of Indonesia in this moment in a revolutionary time A small group of western journalists are on hand to watch and report the deterioration of society The group includes an Australian half Chinese dwarf photo journalist whose intellectual fervor takes him along for the ride in to the depths of the beast of the fervor gripping the populace The main protagonist, Guy Hamilton, another Aussie journalist becomes the victim of the many behind the scenes intrigues culminating in a final physical confrontation and punishment that foreshadowing hints at for a third or of the book If not morally deserving of the injury coming to him, he at the least, is another not innocent scapegoat Contradictions abound in this world of unending darkness.Set in the cultural and climatic density that is South Eastern Asia, The Year of Living Dangerously hints and overly rails at many virulent topics from racism, to poverty, to tyranny, to the cultural morass and depravity left from colonial times as the people afflicted choose a new social model Blood, death, and chaos are never far behind the dancing shadow tales of a people entering into this world of Dangerous Living It is all Water from the Moon First I will confess that The Year of Living Dangerously is my favorite movie I watched the movie probably half a dozen times before I ever read the book years ago I m not sure what compelled me to pick it up again, but I m so glad I did While I love the movie for its atmosphere, I love the book for its insights into the politics of Indonesia in the early 1960s That time period was so politically volatile, and it was completely overshadowed by the rapidly growing war in Vietnam This book also helps the reader understand the Western mind set that led to the Vietnam War The story of the complicated friendship between an Australian journalist and a Chinese Australian photographer I m over simplifying, but I don t want to give anything away as Indonesia perches on the verge of a bloody civil war, this book is appealing for its variety of characters each a type though not a stereotype of person who finds himself far from where he is from, torn between cultures, unsure of where to call home after so many years adrift in foreign lands I m also impressed with the way Koch weaves spirituality with politics, tradition with progress, and the conflicts of loyalties to one s nation and loyalties to one s self. Reading Patrick Holland s new novel got me thinking about Australian authors covering S E Asia and digging through my library for a book I almost forgot I had, and I started re reading it The Year of Living Dangerous is a masterpiece, and somehow, nearly forgotten here in Aus For all the talk you get about the Asian Century and how dynamic life in and around the Australasian region has become, our literati sure do seem to like their distractionist is that a word Historico Euro fluff Not that there s anything wrong with writing about Europe mind, but it doesn t have much to do with Australia and the neighbours But forget politics This is a novel about people, about culture and landscape and well, read it, you ll be glad you did. The Year Is The Fiercely Nationalistic Government Of The God King Sukarno Has Brought Indonesia To The Brink Of Chaos Engulfed In The Violence Are Guy Hamilton, A Western Journalist Billy Kwan, His Chinese Australian Cameraman And The Young British Woman They Both Love Kwan S Disillusionment With His Hero Sukarno Leads Him To Desperate Action, And A Complex Drama Of Loyalty And Betrayal Is Played Out In The Eye Of The Political Storm Saw the film many years ago and it continues to haunt me Picked up a third hand copy of the book, probably in Bras Basah road in Singapore way back, but it s sat on my TBR shelf for far too long Am intrigued by this period in Indonesian history, and still filling in gaps in my own ignorance This is an atmospheric political thriller that captures the last months of Sukarno s presidency as seen through the eyes of a group of mainly Australian journalists It centres on Guy Hamilton, who is befriended by the dwarf photographer, Billy Kwan, soon after his arrival in Jakarta Kwan spies on just about everyone and writes about them in his journal and compiles dossiers on them most of all on Hamilton and his girlfriend, Jilly Kwan s is the most complex character in the novel, yet I don t think we ever fully understand what drives him. Set in Indonesia during the Sukarno regime in 1965 Guy Hamilton is an Anglo Australian journalist who arrives to Jakarta as a first time Australian ABC Radio correspondent He will face one of the most important turmoils of the Indonesian history and will survive to tell his story A most evocative book So short, yet it weaves together stories of love, friendship, courage, and political drama And it also shows love and friendship against the terrifying backdrop of major real world events Sukarno in Jakarta And it does a beautiful job with Indonesian culture especially the meaning of the wayang puppet theater

Christopher Koch was born and educated in Tasmania For a good deal of his life he was a broadcasting producer, working for the ABC in Sydney He has lived and worked in London and elsewhere overseas He has been a fulltime writer since 1972, winning international praise and a number of awards for his novels, many of which are translated in a number of European countries One of his novels, The YE

❰Ebook❯ ➣ The Year of Living Dangerously Author Christopher J. Koch –
  • Paperback
  • 296 pages
  • The Year of Living Dangerously
  • Christopher J. Koch
  • English
  • 15 October 2018
  • 9780140065350

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