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Video Night in Kathmandu: And Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East Paperback – Jun 18 1989


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (June 18 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679722165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679722168
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.3 x 2.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #298,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Troy Parfitt TOP 500 REVIEWER on Jan. 3 2012
Format: Paperback
"Niceties behind us, the stranger looked me in the eye. `I am porridge.'" Now it was my turn to look horrified. `Yes, yes,' he said, thinking that I doubted him. "I am pirate." This was little better. "PIRATE!" he shouted out."

A few years ago, I wrote a book about travelling around East Asia called Notes from the Other China. Some people liked it, others didn't. My first book, I'm not really happy with it and don't recommend reading it. It's derivative and disjointed, but it's original, or so I thought. I was defensively touting its originality on a discussion board once when someone asked, `What about Pico Iyer's Video Nights in Kathmandu?' Another commenter chimed in, `Yes, I was just thinking of that one. He's good.'

I thought, `Pico who?'

I bought Mr. Iyer's The Global Soul, read half of it, and dropped it off at a second-hand bookstore thinking, `Life's too short.' I was also happy in a way. Iyer wasn't that good. I found The Global Soul boring (brush fires in California) and fawning (the city of Toronto). `I can write better,' I thought, and then, thinking there must have been something to the book that launched Iyer's career, I bought Video Nights in Kathmandu and such illusions evaporated.

Video Nights in Kathmandu is a travel-lit classic. It's beautifully written and realized. It's insightful, engaging, and all those other favourable adjectives professional reviewers use to gush about a book. Iyer makes use of metaphor superbly, he uses just the right amount of comedy, he's excellent at analysing and dissecting cultures, and he writes with genuine empathy, and it's this last quality that taught me something about travel writing.
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By therosen on March 2 2003
Format: Paperback
Pico Iyer has written an interesting set of annecdotes on Asia during the late 80s boom years. It covers the isolation of Burma, the sex trade in Thailand, the night life in Nepal, and everything inbetween. The book takes a deeper view beyond the stereotypes to understand the complexities of the cultural merging.
The book really has two main values. First, it gives an annecdotal view of a lifestyle that, while only 15-20 years ago, is already gone. Hong Kong 1986 is a place in transition that is different than Hong Kong today. While many books today provide political and economic viewpoints on the times, and the changes, they don't accurately cover an expats view of life and cultural exchange.
The second value is in understanding aspects of the culture that still apply. India's polyclot of ethnic groups and interaction with the West applies today. Pico Iyer is adept at capturing cultural traits that last, and perhaps even grow, despite the pressures of a globalizing world.
I'm not a universal fan of all of Iyer's material, but this is certainly one of his better works. It's more readable, and the concepts more universal and lasting than some of his other books.
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By A Customer on Oct. 17 2001
Format: Paperback
I tried reading this book while in Kathmandu, and forced myself to finish the chapter on said city before throwing the book across my hotel room in frustration. His anecdotes start out interesting, but turn into self-serving drivel that trivializes a very complex situation and culture. What bothers me most is that his writing is gimmicky- he puts words next to each other that try to sound cool and witty, rather than sharing any real insight. P>Predictably, the Thailand chapter concerned itself mainly with the sex trade. This a common theme, and it's sad that so many authors can't come up with anything else to say about a truly diverse and fascinating country.
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Format: Paperback
As a long standing fan of Pico Iyer's writing, I had high expectations of this book. It is entertaining and fun, but Mr. Iyer comes off as rather self-centered. You hear a lot about the girls who meet him (...). Some of the sardonic observations go beyond Mr. Iyers usual clear-eyed notice to the point of churlishness.
That said, it is much better than the usual pabulum offerred by travel essay writers. If you are new to Iyer, start with "Falling off the Map" for a smoother taste of his style.
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Format: Paperback
Iyer's book captures a particular moment in the 1980s in each of the places he visits. He acknowledges that he provides little historical context for his experiences, such as how the Indian movie industry developed as it did or why the Philippines seems lost in the relics of the by-gone rock-and-roll era. I do not recommend the book to those seeking any sort of historical explanation of what is happening in Asian/American cultural exchange, although it is (probably) quite enjoyable to everyone else.
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Format: Paperback
Pico Iyer is one of the best Asia writers out there. His Lady and the Monk: 4 Seasons in Kyoto is by far the most beautiful book I have ever read. It was magical. In many ways his stories in Video Night are just as wonderful. A bit dated, a believe the book was written in the late 80's but still very topical, still very though provocating, and still awesome to read. Iyer has a wondeful ability to tell a story and to make u feel that you are in the places he writes about. Pico Iyer is a great writer and if you like travel narrativer or are interested in Asia, check out his works.
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