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The Year of Living Dangerously Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1983
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Top Customer Reviews
There is so much going on, it's to be enjoyed on several levels. Innocence lost, cloak and daggery, true political intrigue, guy meets girl, expatriate sleaze, lessons in Indonesian culture: it's all there. Very nicely written with a perfect pace and memorable characters; Koch seems to be a great observer and decent researcher.
So nicely composed was this book, the subsequent film (featuring breathtakingly fresh performances by youngsters Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson) captured the best dialogue and the steamy atmosphere with apparent ease. Destined to be a classic, YLD is a story that takes hold and stays with you a long time.
De rigeur reading for the expats of Indonesia, but also a great book to have along if traveling in Indonesia (the twenty year ban on this book has been lifted by the government, so you can bring it in legally now)!
cover was the only piece of fluff in the book!) and because I was too cheap to rent the movie. I knew little about
either the 1982 movie (also featuring a younger Sigourney Weaver) or the poetic Australian author and
journalist, C. J. Koch.
Friendship, romance, idealism, obsession and ultimately betrayal are woven amongst historical and political intrigue as a group of foreign correspondents is stationed in Indonesia during turbulent 1965. Indonesia? I knew little more about this country since the time I lived in Kingston, Jamaica and one of my letters mistakenly posted to the capital city of the NEXT tiny island nation on the equator: Jakarta, Indonesia.
Let me leave you just enough detail about some of the characters to spark your curiousity: There's Billy Kwan, a half Chinese-Australian cameraman who happens to be a dwarf. His eccentric political philosophies loom large in comparison to his tiny stature. Billy's partner and idol, Guy Hamilton, is a Western journalist and an ambitious, solitary soul desperate to make a name for himself. Jill is an expatriate embassy secretary, suspicious, vulnerable and still naive after a succession of mismatched romantic involvements. Wally O'Sullivan, or "The Great Wally," as he is called, is the group's unofficial leader and respected news veteran. He is enormously fat and harbors his own secret sorrows despite the numerous parties he hosts.
Before the war in Vietnam consumed the world's attention, Indonesia had it's brief moment in the international
spotlight.Read more ›
First thing is that Kock is a beautiful writer. Some of his sentences just blew me away. Especially when he describes Indonesia. He completely captures all the senses and you're right there on a hot Jakarta night with the aroma of clove cigarettes. He's a journalist so his knowledge of the underlying political event surrounding the novel are impressive as well. If you want to understand the unsteady and inscrutable world of SE Asian politics then this book will be a great introduction.
I think the book is weak in a few areas that prevent it from becoming a class. The critical failure is that the reader does not identify with any characters in the novel. The protagonist is Guy Hamilton and we're allowed to see his thoughts but I don't think we deeply relate to him. He's too shallow of a character. His main issues are that he's afraid of relationship commitment and he hasn't been able to succeed at work. Nothing too interesting here. Jill is also somewhat distant and I didn't feel the passion between them. The movie did a far better job of this. Billy, the dwarf, is the deepest character but he's too creepy to relate to.
The second issue is point of view. It's written from the point of view of another journalist, Cookie, who sees Guy and the other characters and writes the story. However we're able to get into Guy's brain and this switching between Cookie's view and Guy's internal thoughts is confusing.
The conflict never built up sufficiently either. We knew from what Cookie said that Billy would die and he would meet Guy in London later.
It's a good read especially if you want to be immersed in all that is SE Asia - mysticism, smells, poverty, riches, cruelty, passion. From that point I enjoyed reading it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Finished reading The Year of Living Dangerously, just realised it was a totally different book I read in my youth, it's a haunting sensual book .... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
A must read for any history buff. A perfect companion to the movie. Years ago sparked my interest in traveling to Indonesia and I was finally able to go and experience the Wayang... Read morePublished 2 months ago by couchalot
wanted the movie . ordered the book accident...........me stupidPublished 7 months ago by Phillip M.
Didn't like the movie or the book. Didn't finish either of them. Hard to follow, don't like the characters.Published 8 months ago by Synergy
This book is an excellent story that captures a segment of Indonesian history. The characters are well developed. Read morePublished 13 months ago by dagny