CHI By Alexander Besher – Reviewed

CHI By Alexander Besher

This is a hard book to read. It’s difficult to explain why it’s so difficult to read. The lack of justification of the text sets off my OCD, but shouldn’t make it any more difficult to read. The complete inability of this reader to gain more than a temporary understanding of what’s going on during the first hundred pages, also shouldn’t make it difficult to read. I’ve read entire books not quite knowing what’s going on. It’s not like I haven’t visited this world before, I’ve been with Frank Gobi since Besher’s first book, and only read the second a little more than a year ago, so why oh why is this book so hard to read?

The first third of the novel, set in a futuristic world of the 2030s, basically sets up the actual story. Chi is being siphoned from a Thai Transsexual called Butterfly by the evil Wing Fat, a 650 pound porn king, who’s also the biggest chi trader in the world. It isn’t until the second third of the novel that we meet our protagonist Frank Gobi, who’s trying to find out about Wing Fat and being sucked into the plans of one Trevor Jordan.

There’s also a pair of orang-utans who have been given plastic surgery to look human and brought up as children of sterile humans, who are now reaching puberty and discovering that they’re not what they thought they were.

The plot is ridiculous, but that isn’t what makes it bad. The fact that virtually nothing happens, the writer doesn’t even appear to be aware of when to finish the book as much of the action happens in the Epilogue, and it all turns out to be one big joke in the end anyway.

This reader can’t help but feel cheated, especially as this 300 page novel feels at least double that length. To say it’s an effort to read this codswallop is an understatement. Besher’s worst novel, this really shouldn’t have been forced on the public. Editors should certainly have taken a look at this and sent it back for some serious revision.

Mir, Besher’s second book, took a hell of a while to warm up, but eventually it did and then it had some kind of plot. Chion the other hand lacks plot, story, characters, it’s big on ideas, there are a couple of nice ones in here, and for anyone familiar with Bangkok you’re feel all warm and fuzzy with some reminiscences. Other than that this is a pretty pathetic effort on the part of Besher, his editor and his publisher.

It’s a travesty that a novel (I use the word very loosely) of this quality (again loosely) is allowed into the marketplace when there is so much better that’s not being published.

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