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KL NOIR KL Noir Red is the first of a planned series of anthology devoted to and I uote the seedy the sinister and sometimes the spooky side of Kuala Lumpur basically the only city that is worth something at least in the local literary scene Don't believe me? Try issuing a submission call for Batang Berjuntai Noir and see whether people would take you seriouslyAnyway as editor Amir Muhammad puts it in the introduction this one attempts to okay I confess I still have no idea what noir has to do with some of the stories here as my personal idea of noir is at home in movies heavy in crime cynicism and morality that is in shades of grey Despite my labeling this anthology as a contemporary anthology in this review there are horror stories here as well ranging from gore to a local take of the Cthulhu mythos Still what's important is that everyone has a great time right?Adib Zaini starts the show with The Runner a solid take on the whole girl victim turned badass babe bent on vengeance trope typical of exploitation movies in the old days Our heroine starts out looking for a part time job after she gave the finger one too many time to the establishment and her imam father cut off her pocket money What started innocently enough as a job at a cybercafeaute; soon devolves into a side gig of drug pushing Our heroine is soon way out of her depths Despite being a short story this one is a good read as the protagonist has a coherent and memorable personality and no matter how sordid things become it's still appropriate that I cheer her onPreeta Samarasan's Rukun Tetangga starts out very powerfully An eccentric man never taken seriously by the people around him gets a new wind of life when he acts as a sponsor for some orphans abroad Now having an interest in the welfare of hapless children in general he becomes appalled at the alarming rate of violence inflicted on children these days in his neighborhood If the cops can't do anything he'd do something anyway As you can probably guess the poor guy's intense staring at the children around him and his scowling at their parents would soon be misconstrued into something sinister with unhappy results to follow This is a great read a chilling portrayal of how easily we can see monsters in all the wrong places in an ordinary environment but the author's effort at giving me a literary style ambiguous ending kills the story That moment screams trying too hard to get me to take the author seriously way too much The story is going very well and it would have been absolutely perfect if the last paragraph had been removed If it had ended abruptly with the previous paragraph perfect But it hadn't so this one is a bit of a botched effortMarc de Faoite's Mamak Murder Mystery is a standard local neighborhood Siapa bunuh itu India punya orang lar? story but with the take home message of how we tend to view immigrant workers in Malaysia as sub human species not worthy of care or respect Oh and politicians are corrupt pigs so if you can get some leverage to force them to share their goodies with you good for you This story is ordinary and the take home message is okay I mean the author could have made his message hard hitting if he had Bangladeshi or Indonesian illegal immigrants spotlighted here as Indian mamak workers generally have it pretty good compared to those two groups of peopleShaz Johar channels Alfred Hitchcock in Asian Angel in which a paranoid starlet suspects that her husband is having an affair with a younger diva and acts with appropriate melodrama This is amusing story but it's nothing extraordinary as I'm a big fan of those movies and TV series and I've seen twists and turns like those in this story many times before I actually guessed the twist correctly two pages into this storyShih Li Kow's A Gift Of Flowers follows a bouuet of flowers as it moves from a seething mistress down along an assortment characters This is a standard device featured in stories done by people who think it'd be so cool to natter about a day in the life of a coin or a dollar note or whatever because really I've come across such story many times before and one typical story of this nature won't hurt right? Well it won't hurt but it won't make much of any impact on me either Maybe if it had been a hypodermic needle passed around I'd be intriguedNext is another flower story Fadzlishah Johanabas's Kiss From A Rose which sees a charming guy seducing the female friends of the object of his affection so that he can isolate her completely from them Nothing a pair of pliers or a visit from the heroine of the first story can't fix so I'm hard pressed to give a care about this storyDina Zaman coos After Dark My Love which sees the heroine telling me the reader about the sordid things that happen in KL mostly to do with blowjobs from trannies and other fun stuff Honey I've been approached by pimps in hotel lobbies in KL and I've heard far sordid stories from my days counseling troubled teens I know shut up If this story really had featured some truly sordid moments then it would have worked As it is this is a story that would titillate probably only the most sheltered folks from the most backward areas of Sarawak Abang KL ada pondan lar ALAMAK and I doubt they would easily find copies of this book so the whole point of this story is uite bewilderingEeleen Lee tells of a fortune teller who wants frowning faces at the mechanical oracle opposite his stall in The Oracle Of Truth even as the man tries to awkwardly court a regular performer that catches his eye This one is actually shaping up to be a good story until the author falls into the horribly clichéd Let's just have a big vehicle hit the sod in the end because this gimmick is going to raise my literary cred by 1000 trap and comes out looking like a try hard wannabe The stupid movie City Of Angels used this same turd plot device that's how much literary credibility it hasKris Williamson's Chasing Butterflies In The Night on the other hand is a brilliant story that fits the theme of the anthology perfectly What starts out as a standard serial killer kills whores tale soon evolves into something far complicated and entertaining I really like this one for catching me unawares well played on the author's partI'm still not sure what Shivani Sivagurunathan's The Dualist is about I can't get past phrases like the hour of owls cockroaches and mythical demons frantic voice of a destructed man a winged effulgent dot that sprayed health and amnesia and worst of all the shape of Bujang's nipples geometrically precise discs that transported Billy back to the solar nebula I'm afraid I'm just too much of a philistine to appreciate such pointlessly self indulgent and meaningless throwing together of every pretty word the author can find in a thesaurus in hope that I would be impressed by the resulting verbal diarrhea When one resorts to calling nipples geometrically precise discs it's safe to say that the plot has been lost completely and utterlyKhairulnizam Bakeri's Vanished was originally in Bahasa Malaysia and it was translated by Nabila Najwa for this anthology It's shockingly romantic A tale of a young lady encountering a charismatic musician at KL Sentral and discovering that he is much than what he seems to be at first this story isn't noir as much as it is a feel good tale of love and healing Not that I am complaining as I'm all for happy endings I'm taken by surprise that's all and while I like this story I wonder whether its inclusion is a way for me to decompress and feel good about life again after encountering the assault of geometric nipples in the previous storyNow we go into horror territory starting with Megat Ishak's cheerfully gruesome Cannibal Vs Ah Long With a title like that and the unapologetic gore in this story I can only give it my two thumbs up I'm not sure about the portrayal of Ah Longs our enterprising private moneylenders as comparable to other scums of society though Ah Longs don't predate their victims go to them willingly agree to the high interests and spend that money so I'm not sure if we can so simply blame Ah Longs for the plight of these victims The real crooks if you ask me are the banks Oh and can someone tell me how our hero can hide a foot long machete in the rear end of his pants?Speaking of machetes Dayang Noor presents The Machete And Me which is like an average spooky Korean movie involving a possessed object and a disbelieving heroine but without much of a back story or a context for the spooky happenings this one feels like a half baked tale designed just to scare me without telling me why I should be scaredAmir Hafizi presents The Unbeliever which is basically a tale of Cthulhu mythos transported to the seaside in an underdeveloped part of Selangor There's our hero accompanied by a pregnant woman and her beau traveling to a village full of weird people If you have read enough stories by HP Lovecraft and all those authors wanting to smear Dagon's auatic goo all over their pages then you will see the plot twists coming from a mile away This one is a decent read and the protagonist feels human and sympathetic than the usual idiot English scholar coming here to scrutinize at fish statues and look for his missing buddy stereotypes that populate such stories It doesn't deviate much from the rest of the formula however so it's too predictable for its own goodBrian Gomez gets lots of my love for the upfront and hilarious political incorrectness that riddles Mud a tale of a cheerfully racist and amoral businessman who won't let anything get in the way of his wants and desires but this story is completely killed by the last line The last line openly shifts the blame of the character's behavior to the racist treatment he was subjected to when he was younger This story was working so well when it lets me make my own judgment as I read the story and while racism does play a role in shaping that fellow to be what he is that last sentence oversimplifies matters turning the protagonist into a woobie when he is anything but Take away the last three sentences of this story and it would have been the best of this anthology As it is it's a fun but fatally flawed storyI'm not sure most of the time where the noir in KL Noir Red is but some of these stories push the envelope cheerfully and I can get behind that It's just that most of these stories seem content to be familiar and predictable tropes taken from grindhouse or exploitation films and stories placed in a local setting when I feel that the anthology could have been so much Brian Gomez is on the right track Adib Zaini ain't bad at all but I'm not sure about most of the rest Still it's a pretty interesting locally flavored anthology Let's hope future anthologies can stand on their own merits after the novelty factor wears off Overall a mixed bag but that's what you have to say about 95% of anthologies It's difficult to find 14 short story writers and an essayist who can all hold it together on theme plot character and technical excellence And rating this anthology is complicated by the fact I'm a white non Malaysian so I have exactly zero standing to comment on things like authenticity or exoticness For me it's just good enough that now I know there's a place in the world called Port Klang So in the order they appear in the bookThe Runner by Adib Zaini Teenage girl gets in over her head with drug runners has to figure out how to get out Solid ending Rukun Tetangga by Preeta Samarasan About a weird bachelor uncle who gets weirder but not in any interesting way Mamak Murder Mystery by Marc de Faoite was indeed mysterious and a little ambiguous but I got the idea it was mostly written to draw attention to the existence of an Indian immigrant population who staff Malaysian fast food restaurants and dream of returning to India And on that front it was successfulAsian Angel by Shaz Johar Nice twists but mostly forgettableA Gift of Flowers by Shih Li Kow I think this story really wanted to go the O Henry or Isak Dinesen route but the vignettes just weren't sharp enough for the direction to hold Kiss from a Rose by Fadzlishah Johanabas Almost worked Maybe for someone romantic than meAfter Dark My Love by Dina Zaman The one essay in the book it's captivating and informative but comes totally out of left field I kept trying to figure out if it was fiction or notThe Oracle of Truth by Eeleen Lee Brutal and curious and very nicely doneChasing Butterflies in the Night by Kris Williamson Excellent One of the two most suarely noir stories on offer and better than a good 80% of the noir shorts I've read latelyThe Dualist by Shivani Sivagurunathan The one story I could not follow at all At All I had no idea who was sleeping with whom or who thought they were sleeping with someone and who the professor was and who wasn't supposed to know Someone smarter than me should read this and explain it to me Vanished by Khairulnizam Bakeri There's a note in the introduction that the publishers like noir that veers towards what's thought as pulp than American conceptions of noir and this is the story that really kicks off the serious pulp portion of the book And it's good It's strange and modern and ghostly and weird Cannibal vs Ah Long by Megat Ishak Not my favorite story in the bunch but holy crow is it good It's just balls out pulp and horror and if that's not enough to convince you to read it there's this uote from it in the frontispiece to the book Several teeth shot out from his rectum and clinked against the porcelain bowl before dropping into the water Should probably win some sort of award The Machete and Me by Dayang Noor My 2nd favorite of the collection it tells the story of complicated tragic matriarchies and cursed heirlooms It passes the Bechdel Test and it's astonishingly good The Unbeliever by Amir Hafizi My favorite hands down Three words Malaysian Cthulhu mythos All pulp all the time no line no waiting Like smelling fresh cigar smoke in the library of a mansion when no one's been home for decades Fantabulous Mud by Brian Gomez Mean nasty and very well done Three stars for the collection overall because for me there was that long section in the middle that felt a little sloggy but this is the first of four themed volumes from this publisher so I'll be sure to pick up the next one when it comes out Oh well this is the first from the 4 volumes I have to say I can't wait for the next volumes Since there are 14 short stories inside this volume it's hard to rate it I love a little twist at the ending of few stories It's like watching a thriller movie There's murder death and blood Not that creepy but heck this is not innocent at allMy favourites will be The Runner After Dark My Love and The Machete and Me A must try if you love thriller You'll never ever see KL as it used to be If you need further proof there’s no better vehicle than crime fiction for shining a light into the crevices and cracks of society the powers in control don't want you to see check out a new anthology called KL NoirThat’s KL as in Kuala Lumpur the capital of MalaysiaKuala Lumper may not seem like the most obvious place to set an anthology of noir fiction On the surface at least it has a reputation as an orderly well behaved cityBut if this book is anything to go by a lot is going on under the surfaceKL is a city crawling with horrendously exploited migrant workers and angry ghosts a place where breakneck economic development and rampant consumerism has left many of its citizens with no other social outlet than wandering shopping malls and which is governed by a highly authoritarian ruling party that has clung to power for over half a centuryHow Asian writers interpret crime fiction in general and noir narratives in particular fascinates me KL Noir is first of four volumes about the city’s dark side by independent Malay publishing company Buku Fixi I didn’t like every story in the collection par for the course for any anthology But there are some great tales and collectively they’re a great insight into what noir means in this particular neck of the woodsBriefly my favourites were as follows‘The Runner’ by Adib Zaini was the first story and probably my pick of the bunch It’s a taunt little tale about a good Muslim girl who thinks dealing drugs from her local Internet café is the solution to her problems She is very wrongMarc de Faoite’s ‘Mamak Murder Mystery’ deals with the plight of Malaysia’s migrant workforce An Indian restaurant worker decides to investigate the murder of a friend and co worker another migrant and unearths a much bigger case than he ever expectedKris Williamson’s ‘Chasing Butterflies in the Night’ is a brutal tale of a serial killer targeting prostitutes who has very good reason to be confident of his impunityShopping mall food courts are the focus for much of the action in this book The best of these is ‘Vanished’ by khairulnizam Bakeri the story of a busker with a secretLast ‘The Unbeliever’ by Amir Hafizi' was a fascinating take on a modern Malay ghost story with a distinct Wicker Man feel to it I was left pleasantly surprised by this collection of short stories Favourites include Mud by Brian Gomez A Gift of Flowers by Shih Li Kow and Cannibal vs Ah Long by Megat Ishak The mehs include The Dualist by Shivani Sivagurunathan which left me extremely confused someone please explain it to me and Vanished by Khairulnizam Bakeri To be fair Vanished was translated from Malay and it could be the slightly awkward translation that I found a turn offThe vigilante theme also surfaces periodically in the book but I didn't find all the stories eually awesome Rukun Tetangga by Preeta Samarasan is the story of a strange uncle that starts draggy and ends sort of hanging in the air In constrast Chasing Butterflies in the Night by Kris Williamson hits the ground running and stays exciting all the way to the end KL Noir is a mix of highs and not so highs beginning and ending with bangs but suffering from a case of the draggy doldrums somewhere in the middle Well worth a read I'm not one who is usually drawn to locally published books but this one took my by surprise KL Noir is an anthology setting up the lens to the darker side of KL with all its sex crime and grit In other words a contemporary to the once glorious genre of pulp fictionSeveral essays stuck with me long after the pages were closed among them 'Chasing Butterflies in the Night' Dina Zaman's 'After Dark My Love' was less of a short story and presented itself as a social commentary on Kuala Lumpur's seedier side one that becomes common knowledge among the city dwellers 'Cannibal Vs Ah Long' was one of the attention grabbing ones as though having lifted literally from film scenesSome stories however came off as confusing 'The Dualist' for example I was unsure whether it was bad storytelling or maybe it just wasn't clear personally having to backtrack certain sentences and whole pagesWhat KL Noir is is that despite certain stories not being impressionable enough It's still one that makes for good reading and also proof that Malaysian authors don't pander on to the masses with romance fiction that sells off shelves here like hot cakes I would definitely like to see of these KL NOIR Red is the first of 4 volumes about the Malaysian capital city's dark side There are 14 short stories and one essay about the seedy the sinister and sometimes the spooky You will find murder drug dealing kidnapping sexual depravity prostitution celebrity secrets suicides academic rivalry gangsters police brutality cannibalism black magic creepy rituals political corruption and even busking It's all totally fictional Well maybe the cannibalism isLine UpINTRO Amir MuhammadTHE RUNNER Adib ZainiRUKUN TETANGGA Preeta SamarasanMAMAK MURDER MYSTERY Marc de FaoiteASIAN ANGEL Shaz JoharA GIFT OF FLOWERS Shih Li KowKISS FROM A ROSE Fadzlishah JohanabasAFTER DARK MY LOVE Dina ZamanTHE ORACLE OF TRUTH Eeleen LeeCHASING BUTTERFLIES IN THE NIGHT Kris WilliamsonTHE DUALIST Shivani SivagurunathanVANISHED Khairulnizam BakeriCANNIBAL VS AH LONG Megat IshakTHE MACHETE AND ME Dayang NoorTHE UNBELIEVER Amir HafiziMUD Brian GomezBIOS 25 Not all the stories here are my cup of tea I am interested reading most of the stories by authors who I'm familiar with I like the idea of this book Some stories are brilliant; good storyline easy to follow While some I just easily lost interest in It took me a while trying to finish this Probably because I was easily distracted and the stories are not that interesting A good try to make our own Malaysian version of pulp fiction genre style of writting My personal fav would be Mamak Murder Mystery Vanished and A Gift of Flowers Im loving the idea of having KL as the setting for all of the short stories it gives a familiar touch to most of youngters Although I might say a good piece of writting doesnt necessarily sell by having explicit content A compilation of short stories about the dark side of the KL city I think almost all the stories are great and will satisfy your adventerous needs Few stories are so good to be true that I want to make a movie about it Some of the stories are written in a very high level of English I think lah or maybe my english sucks There are many types of stories in this book including drugs prostitution killing and even cannibalism and much Will find the other 3 volumes

  • Paperback
  • 270 pages
  • KL NOIR
  • Amir Muhammad
  • English
  • 18 November 2015