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View Full Version : The Pacific Between, by Raymond K. Wong



Perks
05-17-2006, 03:59 AM
The man himself is okay with us discussing it here and I know many AWers have read, The Pacific Between. So, let's hear it!

Cabinscribe
05-17-2006, 06:07 AM
No kidding, I just, no more than 15 minutes ago, ordered this book!

So, I'll be back soon to join the discussion!

poetinahat
05-17-2006, 06:30 AM
I'd be in, but I've got to allow a week's shipping, and then reading time. I'll probably miss the boat. Ironic, given that I live on the Pacific.

September skies
05-17-2006, 06:42 AM
I'm in! This can be fun. But I've never been involved in a book discussion. What do we do - how does it start?

I did enjoy the book immensely - in fact, I couldn't put it down and read it in two days. (but then again, I read most of my books that way)

Perks
05-17-2006, 07:01 AM
I've been in book clubs and since the wine is vrtual, just pour yourself a glass and discuss your favorite plot points, or images or characters. No rules. Don't worry about spoilers, only people who've read should be peeking anyway.

And since we have the author handy, pose a question!

unthoughtknown
05-17-2006, 07:38 AM
I'd be in, but I've got to allow a week's shipping, and then reading time. I'll probably miss the boat. Ironic, given that I live on the Pacific.

Me, too! I ordered it last week! I'll re-visit when I've got it and read it! :)

lauram
05-17-2006, 08:52 AM
I liked it. I, too, read it in about two days. Maybe three. Can't remember. :)
Anyway, I liked it. I have a little trouble believing that a guy would have a heart attack and run over his wife though. :) I think that it's possible but not too common. Maybe that's why it stuck out in my mind. Then again, fiction shouldn't limit itself to the tame and the common.

So, Raymond (if you're lurking), was the mom standing behind the car on a downward sloping driveway? Forgive me if you specified in the book, but I don't remember reading an explanation. My short term memory leaves much to be desired, I confess.

I really liked the sordid family ties. That's what kept me in the story the most I think.

aruna
05-17-2006, 09:40 AM
I'm in; I read it and really enjoyed it. Maybe we shoud wait for the others to catch up, though, and maybe I need to reread it, just to have it fresh in my mind.

Nicholas S.H.J.M Woodhouse
05-17-2006, 11:20 AM
sharon, how did you get a copy in Blighty?

aruna
05-17-2006, 11:25 AM
sharon, how did you get a copy in Blighty?

The Author sent me a copy! (we exchanged books).

That's another point; it would be good if in general the chosen books were published in BOTH US and UK, to save us shipping costs, which can be prohibitive transatlantic, not to mention to Australia.
UK books are usually also available in Australia, btw.

madderblue
05-17-2006, 03:12 PM
Mine arrived yesterday...I'll get on it! :)

Sarita
05-17-2006, 05:48 PM
Excellent book, adorable author.

It was really interesting to me, thinking back on all of the changes that Greg made during the few short weeks, or a little more than a month, after his parents dies, how quickly he was able to make those changes. Then I started to think about all of the transitions he had to face in just those few weeks and how many physical changes happened in his life. When you face that much change and death and memory, you're bound to change drastically or at least allow your true self to become exposed.

The title really struck me, in light of all of those transitions. And how the Pacific was between Greg and most of the other characters, living and dead. But it was really a great big ocean between him and his actual life, the one he was supposed to be living, the one where he was happy.

rhymegirl
05-17-2006, 06:49 PM
I liked trying to figure out which woman Greg would end up with. I was rooting for Kate. (maybe the name has something to do with it?)

But seriously, that's my own preference that the guy should end up with a woman who's not "perfect".

Just some random thoughts: When I was reading about Lian and there was a passage about her walking very slowly("she has a slow and lithe walk, almost as if she's dancing on air"), her mannerisms, etc., I laughed because I was thinking that I wish I was more like her. I always walk really fast, do things really quickly, always in a hurry. I wonder if it's a cultural thing. Is the daily pace in Asia much slower than here? Americans are always in a hurry.

I liked the character Old Chow, thought he was really funny and helped lighten up the tone of the novel.

Also liked the very poetic descriptions of the scenery, etc.
Thought it was interesting how he titled the chapters. Not many authors do that, do they?

aruna
05-17-2006, 08:05 PM
Just some random thoughts: When I was reading about Lian and there was a passage about her walking very slowly("she has a slow and lithe walk, almost as if she's dancing on air"), her mannerisms, etc., I laughed because I was thinking that I wish I was more like her. I always walk really fast, do things really quickly, always in a hurry. ?

Same here. She gave me a feeling of serenity, inner beauty, that I felt I lack. But also, I wanted her to be not quite so perfect.

I felt from the start that Greg was not so much in love with her, but in love with an image of her perfection. She in fact reminded me of a Chinese woman I met while I was in the US in 1981. She was so beautiful, so radiant, and it seemed to come from within. Her name was Polly and she was a shoe saleswoman, and I never forgot her face; and Lian became her for me.

Paint
05-18-2006, 10:03 PM
I confess and I have admitted as much to Ray, I fell in love with the main character. He is vulnerable, sensative and made mistakes. (Ray said it wasn't him) I loved the poetic descriptions of the landscape. It was like being there. A good read and like others in this thread, I had trouble putting it down. Luckily I was on vacation at that time and could really get into a reading frenzy. I look forward to the next book by this author.

Sarah Skilton
05-19-2006, 02:29 AM
Read it in one night, babies!! :)

I enjoyed the experience of traveling to Hong Kong with the characters. I really felt as though I was there with them; inhaling the smell of the sea and the delectable odors from the food. Wonderful descriptions and evocative experiences, not to mention compelling relationships.

ChunkyC
05-19-2006, 02:50 AM
I too read it fairly quickly. In fact, I'm still reading a sci-fi novel by an author I quite like that I started long before I picked up my copy of TPB. Mind you, Ray's my long lost twin brother, so everything got put on the back burner while I dove into his book.

My fave character was Old Chow too. He was the perfect counterbalance to the seriousness of the rest of the story. All the characters were distinctly drawn. I've read some books where everyone seems the same, but Ray didn't fall into that trap. Good job.

Being Canadian, I was intrigued by Hong Kong. By the end of the book, I wanted to go see if I could find these places like the hotel and the cave by the water.

Yeshanu
05-19-2006, 10:26 PM
I also really liked Old Chow. And Agnes. They're real people who aren't beautiful or perfect, yet they make a life for themselves anyhow.

I agree with Chunky on the characterization thing.

Ray, how did you create these characters? Did you model them on folks you know, or did you create character sheets, or what?

maestrowork
05-20-2006, 07:29 PM
Ray, how did you create these characters? Did you model them on folks you know, or did you create character sheets, or what?

(disclaimer: I didn't want to butt in because I think it's a little hokey for me to participate in this thread... But, I want to answer this one question)

Ruth, my characters usually come to me. They speak to me and tell me stories and they all have their own voices. I don't do character sheets, etc. because I don't feel like I am the one MAKING them. They're not toys to me. Sure, if I really look, I can realize people I know in my life in these characters (including part of myself). And yes, I do give them attributes like "she has brown hair and green eyes" and I interview them about their backgrounds, etc. But mostly, they come to me and I just report on what I see... And as far as the personality and "soul" are concerned, these characters usually just invent themselves...

Does that make sense? I know different writers do different things. But for me, at least that's how it works.

(going back into my shell now)

rhymegirl
05-20-2006, 08:40 PM
That was interesting, Ray. I really thought your characters were based on people you know, people you've met. And I kept wondering while I was reading it if Greg is supposed to be you (or maybe I should say whether he has your way of looking at things.) But Paint just told us otherwise.

In my stories, I always use people I know or bits and pieces of people I've met.

maestrowork
07-05-2006, 03:48 PM
Cheryll

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. And I have to say that it's usually very hard for me to read an entire novel written in 2nd person, so it HAS to be really good!

The characters and plot were fleshed out very well, and I like how
Ray used all 5 senses to describe things (food smells, sounds, etc.) And he gives the reader a feel for Hong Kong without sounding like a travel brochure. LOL

It was interesting to see how Greg's character changes and grows as the book progresses. And I loved Old Chow and Agnes! Great characters that stick with you long after you've finished the book.

Cheryll
__________________
~ Never settle for the plain black shoes. ~


06-11-2006, 09:14 PM
SC Harrison

I just started reading The Pacific Between, so I'm going to run away before I see any spoilers.
__________________
Undeserved Trust by SC Harrison
www.freewebs.com/scharrison/


06-11-2006, 09:52 PM
Cabinscribe


At last I've found this thread!

I had just gotten the book, then the Boards were down ...

Anyway, I really enjoyed the book! I read it in about two days. I don't usually read contemporary fiction, so the fact that this book held my interest says a lot.

I was impressed with the character development. There are gay characters, older characters, and a handicapped character, who were fully-developed personalities, not merely two-dimensional caricatures.

The pacing was good. It held my interest, but slowed down when it needed to.

Also, the book develops love and human relationships in a meaningful way and in many dimensions; "romance" is not portrayed as something in which only young and attractive people can participate.

I left it with a feeling of "things (people) aren't always as they seem to be."

Way to go Ray!!! I really think your book is great!

__________________
To me the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the music the words make. - Truman Capote

sassandgroove
07-12-2006, 09:36 PM
I just finished this book yesterday.

What struck me was a conversation Greg had with Lian where she points out that love isn't finding someone to make you happy, but finding someone to give to. I'm finding that to be true in my own life. Make yourself happy, give to those you love. Great!!!

I also liked the characters. There weren't any throw aways, everyone had a purpose, even if it was to pass out fliers. Having moved a lot, I appreciated the way Greg found friendship with Agnes, who he had viewed as an adversary in his youth. That is so true. DIstance and time makes those who knew us when an ally somehow. Also, in adulthood, we see things differently than we did as kids.

I was rooting for Kate too. I think that was part of the point, which I picked up on early, Greg wasn't in love with Lian, he was in love with the idea of Lian. He just had to figure that out for himself. The journey was a great read.

badducky
07-13-2006, 03:28 AM
I ordered it at my BnN in Euless, but left for Vancouver before it could arrive...

However, I will say that I've heard from reliable non-AW sources that this book is extremely good, and should be read by the world.

TemlynWriting
07-20-2006, 09:49 PM
I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of Ray's book!

III
10-29-2007, 10:45 PM
No posts on this thread in over a year? <blows dust from thread> Here's my Amazon review:

I usually don't read this type of novel and having read the Publisher's Weekly review, I was prepared for a drawn-out melodrama, but I found myself utterly sucked in to The Pacific Between. I could not put this book down!

Raymond Wong's debut novel is not only filled with insight about the nature of love, maturity, and forgiveness, it's told in a thoroughly engaging and honest manner. All the characters were well-developed, believable and interesting. Greg's whiplash journey to uncover his past and ultimately understand his future was touching and vivid. I can't wait to read Raymond's next novel!

What I didn't write was...
[Now if only Ray would stop posting about how much he enjoys being naked and get busy finishing that next novel . . .]

maestrowork
12-04-2007, 10:28 PM
I enjoy getting busy finishing the next novel, naked.

Thanks III. Your review made me blush. Better than roses and chocolates, I must say.

auntybug
12-04-2007, 11:17 PM
I finished this book last night and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it! I also loved all the characters, especially Greg. (I thought I could see Ray in him…) I loved the personal growth he took throughout the book. Ray’s descriptions of the scenery were awesome – you really felt like you were there. Newsflash people, our Chocolate Pants mod has a soft side! Get this on your list of AW books to read if it’s not already there:D

KTC
12-05-2007, 04:46 PM
I'm reading the book now. I'm only getting to do so at my son's hockey practices, so only for about an hour and a half each week. But, hey, I'm loving it. I loved the chapter where he's wandering around looking at old places and goes to his school and finds the teacher and finally feels he belongs. I loved that chapter. Nicely done. I'm only about 50 pages in...but enjoying it muchly. Will post more later...

maestrowork
12-05-2007, 06:08 PM
Thank you much, both of you! :D

Kevin, that's one of my favorite chapters because it's personal to me. It's almost semi-biographical.

Vandal
01-11-2008, 04:45 PM
I finished it last night! I was extremely impressed with the imagery of Hong Kong and the other locations. The characters are unique and interesting (and compelling, mostly). The MC, Greg, tried his hardest to make me not like him, but I was rooting for him at the end.

So, Ray, about that next novel...

KTC
01-11-2008, 04:55 PM
I finished a week or so ago. I really enjoyed it. Yes...I found that the locations were covered nicely. I really liked the characterization as well. The one character who stands out...and I love those characters who are vastly appealing even though they are merely walk ons...is the other guest at the hotel. His damn name eludes me at the moment! The guy who appeared naked in the little kitchen. What an exquisitely drawn walk-on, Ray.

I was propelled throughout...I did not experience a single lull in story. I put your book on my facebook bookshelf and would recommend it to everyone.

III
01-11-2008, 06:29 PM
the other guest at the hotel. His damn name eludes me at the moment! The guy who appeared naked in the little kitchen.

I pictured him as Paul Benedict, Mr. Bentley from the Jeffersons. (Sorry, I couldn't find any nude pics of him.)

http://www.amrep.org/images/headshots/benedict.jpg

Vandal
01-12-2008, 12:15 AM
Ray,

I have some general questions concerning both the story and your journey to complete it:

Do many (most) people assume Greg is really you?

Did you have to research Hong Kong or have you been to all the locations?

How long did it take you to write this book?

What got edited out and why?

What was you time frame for getting an agent?

Was the story originally in first person present tense, or did you switch along the way? (note: I don't recall ever reading a novel in FPPT, but now I've read yours and Lottery in just a few months)


Inquiring minds want to know how your next novel coming along...

Thanks

maestrowork
01-12-2008, 02:27 AM
Ithe other guest at the hotel. His damn name eludes me at the moment! The guy who appeared naked in the little kitchen. What an exquisitely drawn walk-on, Ray.



I pictured him as Paul Benedict, Mr. Bentley from the Jeffersons. (Sorry, I couldn't find any nude pics of him.)

http://www.amrep.org/images/headshots/benedict.jpg


LOL. I don't ever want to see him naked. The character's name is Tim Harding.





was propelled throughout...I did not experience a single lull in story. I put your book on my facebook bookshelf and would recommend it to everyone.

:o

maestrowork
01-12-2008, 02:41 AM
My! So many questions. So little time.



Ray,
Do many (most) people assume Greg is really you?


Yeah. Some even went as far to say "I hope this is not autobiographic because the MC is a jerk..." Then again, I have someone saying to me, "Is that you? Because I think I'm falling in love with the MC..." I have no idea what to say...



Did you have to research Hong Kong or have you been to all the locations?


I grew up in Hong Kong, and I've visited since I left years ago. And I've seen pictures of how it's grown... I did have to do some research on locations I wasn't too familiar with, such as the island, which I visited over 25 years ago.



How long did it take you to write this book?


I wrote the first 50K in about a year -- didn't know what I was doing -- and the last half of the book in four months. Then spent about two months editing it. I cut out about 15,000 words in my final draft.



What got edited out and why?


Basically character development and plot that doesn't really have much to do with the main story. It's a shame really, because my betas actually enjoyed it. In the final book the relationship of Greg and Kate isn't as well drawn as I would like -- that's a sacrifice I had to make -- what I cut out was more about their relationship, how they went from being almost strangers to falling in love. But that makes the beginning of the book feel like a romance novel! After some agents told me the beginning of the story was too slow with no relevant plot, I decided to cut it and start the story where it's supposed to start: before Greg makes the fateful decision to visit his past.



What was you time frame for getting an agent?


I went directly to publishers. I got a contract in about 10 months from the day I started submitting.



Was the story originally in first person present tense, or did you switch along the way? (note: I don't recall ever reading a novel in FPPT, but now I've read yours and Lottery in just a few months)


Yes. I set out to write a first person account of the story because the character is dear to me. The present tense: I knew it was risky. But I felt that I needed to write in present tense because I liked the immediacy and also the fact that it's a journey, and the character changes through the course of the story, and also I wanted the readers to find things out as the MC did... so present tense made sense to me.

I did try to convert everything to past tense when I was about midway into the draft but it just didn't feel right so I changed everything back. I figured if I didn't get it published so be it -- at least I was true to the voice in my head.



Inquiring minds want to know how your next novel coming along...

It's getting there. I'm struggling right now because of scope creep. The more I get into the story, the more I discover new things, new characters, new conflicts. It's scary! I'm over 60K into the first draft, and I feel I have at least another 60K to go. At least I know how the story is going to end... just getting there is the hard part.


Thanks.

No, thank you. I love questions like these.

Love you guys.

KTC
01-12-2008, 02:58 AM
Poop! Tim Harding. That's it! You're right! (-; He was really memorable to me...names are something I am always forgetting. Sorry. I kept reading chapters and thinking, "That was my favourite chapter."

maestrowork
01-12-2008, 08:49 AM
Poop! Tim Harding. That's it! You're right! (-; He was really memorable to me...names are something I am always forgetting. Sorry. I kept reading chapters and thinking, "That was my favourite chapter."

That's something every writer would love to hear. Thank you for sharing! :)

underthecity
01-13-2008, 04:34 AM
I read it last year and enjoyed it, even though it's not normally the kind of book I read. (And I purchased it from the author at a signing! But then, the author also attended one of my signings so we're kind of even.)

Scenes that stick out in my head:

The descriptions of the various Japanese locations, the cities, the nightlife. I felt it was very real.

The scene at a party where one guy kept saying "You know?"

The Tim Harding scene. Well, that was because I used to work with a guy named Tim Harding. If he ever googles his name, he'll probably find this thread.

I enjoyed the conflict with Greg. Sometimes he made some very bad decisions.

The only thing I didn't like so much was not knowing Greg was rich until near the end. Although it made sense, he was the son of an eminent doctor. Still, I kept wondering how Greg was able to afford to spend thousands of dollars to catch all these flights and stay at the most expensive hotels I have ever heard of.

All told though, it was a fine debut novel and I look forward to the next one.

allen