THE BEACH by Alex Garland (hier online bestellen)
Richard, the narrator and central character of this impressive first novel, is on a 'year-out', travelling
the well-worn year-out trails of South East Asia when we meet him in a Bangkok hotel. His neighbour in the
hotel Daffy is apparently deranged and, sure enough, tops himself - but leaves directions to the remote beach
of the title for Richard to find. Intrigued by the prospect of going somewhere still off the beaten track,
Richard and his new-found French chums Etienne and Francoise manage to find the beach where they discover a
new-ageish community of seasoned travellers living off the land and smoking lots of dope from a nearby
plantation. The community is already a hotbed of interpersonal tension and the new arrivals find themselves
adding to it as the camp splits increasingly into the old guard against the new. And none of this is helped
by the fact that Richard himself has given away the location of the island to some other travellers. As the
threat of encroachment from the outside world looms, Richard becomes increasingly disturbed by fantasies of
the Vietnam War and a series of violent episodes raises the tension to breaking point.
This is a novel which promises a great deal, but never quite delivers in the end. The individual
relationships - between Richard and the beautiful Francoise, between the various members of the community -
and the sense of spiralling insanity on Richard's part, are sketched out brilliantly, giving the best parts
of the novel an edge of real menace and drawing the reader completely, if temporarily, into the hermetic
world the novel creates and occupies. But it's as if Garland, when it comes to it, is afraid to stick the
boot in where needed, as if he loves some of his characters rather more than they deserve. The potentially
explosive mix never detonates with the power you would hope for. The author is only twenty-six, however, and
that he needs to learn ruthlessness is explicable and, given the many true qualities this book has, almost
Extract from book:
"The first I heard of the beach was in Bangkok, on the Ko Sahn Road. The Ko Sahn Road was backpacker land.
Almost all of the buildings had been converted to guest houses, there were long-distance telephone booths
with air-con, the cafes showed brand-new Hollywood films on video, and you couldn't walk ten feet without
passing a bootleg tape stall. The main function of the street was as a decompression chamber for all those
about to leave Thailand; a halfway house between the East and the West.
I'd landed at Bangkok in the late afternoon, and by the time I got to Ko Sahn it was dark. My taxi driver
winked and told me that at one end of the street was a police station, so I asked him to drop me off at the
other end. I wasn't planning on a crime, but I wanted to oblige his conspiratorial charm. Not that it made much
difference at which end one stayed because the police obviously weren't active. I caught the smell of grass as
soon as I got out of the cab, and half the travelers weaving past me were stoned.
The driver left me outside a guest house with an eating area open to the street. As I studied it, checking
the clientele to gauge what kind of place it was, a thin man at the table nearest me leaned over and touched
my arm. I glanced down. He was, I guessed, one of those heroin hippies that float around India and Thailand.
He'd probably come to Asia ten years ago and turned an occasional dabble into addiction. His skin was old,
though I'd have believed he was in his thirties. The way he was looking at me, I had the feeling I was being
sized up as someone to rip off."
About the author:
Alex Garland was born in London, England, in 1970. In 1987 he went to India on a six week trip to Kashmir
and Ladahk. After leaving school, he spent six months in Southeast Asia, and he has returned every year since,
most frequently to the Philippines. In 1992, Garland received a B.A. in History of Art at Manchester University
in England. He occasionally works as an illustrator and freelance journalist. He started writing fiction not
out of compulsion, but as an anxious response to the careers that his friends were carving out for themselves.
THE BEACH by Alex Garland
Broschiert - 438 Seiten - Penguin Books
Erscheinungsdatum: 26. Juni 1997
Preis: € 11,50
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