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Standard Deviations: Growing Up and Coming Down in the New Asia Paperback – July 2, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
greenfield's last book, "speed tribes", was an excellent pop-treatment of the underbelly of japan-- speed freaks, biker gangs, etc. standard deviations is in a similar vein, but more personal. in theory greenfield travels around thailand, india, japan, etc. looking for some kind of enlightenment, but in reality (and he is at least upfront about this) his travels are an attempt to run with the cool kids-- the tribes of disaffected rich europeans who treat asia as their personal playground, jetting from raves in malaysia to the beaches of goa with disaffected ease. i am a sucker for real life stories of drugs, debauchery, sex and mayhem, and "deviations" fits the bill. definitely not your standard asia travelogue, and worth picking up if only to shake your fist periodically and go "oooh! i hate him so!"
Perhaps part of the problem is that Greenfeld, and the Asian expat scene, and indeed myself as a reader are all a bit older and a little more played out now. The sheen is off the gold lame, as it were. Greenfeld, to his credit, recognizes this and even as he struggles to come to grips with the nasty hangover that inevitably follows a youth of excess, his saving grace is that at times he is able to poke fun at his former aspirations and illusions. To some extent. But at other times, he comes across as a still bit too enraptured with his role as a minor-league Brett Eston Ellis of the Far East.
I guess that cocktail bars, hustlers and [women], Roppongi and Patpong, place-and-people name dropping and designer clothes all to be where it's at when you're in your early 20s. Then there comes a time when examining the shallowness and idiocy of it all also seems to be a worthwhile effort. Then finally the whole topic seems stale and boring. Greenfeld seems stuck uncomfortably between the latter two categories here, jammed crosswise into his 30s.Read more ›
The inevitable crash of Greenfeld's life (he becomes a drug addict) and the insubstantial economy is a disturbing account of life being led without the forethought of any consequences. Greenfeld is able to bring the reader close to the riots of Jakarta, a free-sex ashram in India, and the speed slums of Bangkok easily since he has ridden the Asian roller-coaster ride from the 90s to the end of the century. "About me are flea-infested dogs and puddles of stagnant water several inches deep with garbage, and all around is the stench of smoldering trash."
The book's greatest asset is the author's ability to be brutally honest with himself and the culture surrounding him. The tempo is quick and unrelenting, think Hunter S. Thompson; at times it moves too fast as a different setting is suddenly on the page. But the writing is beautifully lucid; the author brings the darker images of Asia alive in an unflinching manner. "And I know a hit of the mad medicine is the easiest way to make it all seem bearable. Taking a hit, I know, is a surefire way to feel good. Right now. And I want it." Lastly, the book also allows us to see redemption is possible from the lowest of points.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved reading this book. Greenfelds writing is always highly entertaining, but in this book he capture the lifestyle of a whole generation.Published 9 months ago by Ryan
Awful book. I actually liked the first essay, about his time teaching english and working as a journalist in Japan. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Thomas Burke
"Standard Deviations" consists of eight largely unconnected true stories (not quite essays, I think). Read morePublished on August 31, 2008 by P. Mann
I found this book in bangkok on khaosan road--it had a different cover than this but I am pretty sure it's the same book. Read morePublished on May 22, 2006 by Lizz in HK
K.T. Greenfeld's human mission is 'to get loaded, go to nightclubs and f* models'.
This book contains a few impressions of Asian politics (the Suharto regime in... Read more
I purchased Greenfeld's book with a professional interest in seeing how he became a freelance writer based in Tokyo and a more sordid interest in his drug and sex escapades. Read morePublished on April 30, 2006 by Dallas Lillich
Even though many of the stories in this book are down and dirty, I found myself becoming nostalgic for my own younger, wilder days spent wandering the planet in search of a good... Read morePublished on October 9, 2005 by aggie glen
I enjoyed reading this but it's a much more superficial treatment of the subject matter than I hoped it would be, and Greenfeld at times seems overly impressed with his lifestyle. Read morePublished on September 20, 2005 by G. Brown
Greenfeld is an accomplished writer with a terrific sense of humor. The book chronicles his career and travels as a disgruntled english teacher in Japan and a freelance journalist... Read morePublished on January 24, 2003 by mootzie