Rattawut Lapcharoensap | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Rattawut Lapcharoensap 

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Though he's only 25 years old, Rattawut Lapcharoensap writes like an old pro. Born in Chicago but raised mostly in Bangkok with periodic sojourns back here, he brings a mature, bicultural sensibility to the seven stories in his debut collection, Sightseeing (Grove Press). In the touching opener, "Farangs," a Thai boy falls for a flirtatious American girl in a Budweiser bikini. He uses his pet pig, Clint Eastwood, to woo her, but soon runs afoul of her boyfriend and his cohorts; the poor pig's ensuing harassment by the vacationers shows perfectly their disdain for the locals. In the sad, sweet, and funny "Don't Let Me Die in This Place" Lapcharoensap adopts the perspective of a stroke-afflicted Massachusetts man who's come to Bangkok to live (and perhaps die) with his son and his Thai family. And in the novella-length "Cockfighter," where a father's obsession with the brutal sport nearly tears his family apart, Lapcharoensap's vivid imagery is at its peak: the father arranges his cocks' spurs "like toy scythes laid out for some miniature farm auction." With Dean Bakopoulos. Fri 2/11, 7:30 PM, Barbara's Bookstore, 1100 Lake, Oak Park, 708-848-9140.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/June Glasson.

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