Care to take a wild ride to Laos to experience the confusion of living, working and looking for love in a country on the brink of collapse?
Hustle The East is a daring, highly cinematic tale of unconventional romance, betrayal, commitment and corruption set against actual events. The rich tapestry of fictional narrative unspools like a memoir, three memoirs in fact. The story is told in a trio of first-person POV accounts, examining events tbrough differing cultural and generational lenses.
Each tale begins on the day Henry Kissinger came to push a one-sided ceasefire with the Communists, presaging the end of 600 years of monarchy.
Part 1: The Eager American – A semi-idealistic American teacher makes bad choices and suffers consequences while learning about real love and commitment to a cause.
My time in Laos taught me that even I was not the person I thought I was. For one thing, I could not have imagined that I would be tossed in jail for killing a prostitute. Back then, I wasn’t a murderer. Murder, with premeditation, came with greater maturity.
Part 2: When Elephants Waltz – An orphan on the Plain of Jars becomes a monk and teaches peace and tolerance until his village is bombed by both Communists and Americans. Rescued from the ashes, he rebuilds his life in the capital until he is denounced by an old flame and packed off to a prison camp.
On the day Henry Kissinger came to Laos, I was drinking Buds and smoking buds with my American coworkers, and thinking, How lucky am I! I’m like a one-in-a-million lottery winner, a Lao guy working for the Americans after working for the Communists. I was what Jack Gaines would call a “very cool cat!”
Part 3: The Grass Withers – A young woman of privilege faces choices: whom to trust, whom to marry, whether to stay in her country or flee, and how to deal with the devious man who dragged her family down.
I cursed when my driver stopped to allow the car of some American bigwig to pass. The Girls were waiting at the Café de la Pagode. I was running on Lao time, forty minutes late. As usual. Everyone knows it takes me time to choose the perfect outfit and make-up. A girl has to use what weapons she has to get what she wants, no?
Part 4: The Fight Ends tells readers what happened to the three narrators, along with their loved ones and enemies, when revolutionaries were rebuilding the country. The repercussions from their actions ripple into the next millennium.
The author’s fiction style is comic realism with dollops of history and musings about language and culture. Following the fate of quixotic characters, readers will be amazed and disgusted to learn how Americans behaved in Laos.
Available November 8, 2018