Discovering Khun Chang Khun Phaen

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A few days I ago, I posted this:

Exuberant at unpacking the library…finding books I have been missing (and wanting) for a while. Just unboxed my copy of Khun Chang Khun Phaen, the Thai epic. Relieved I hadn’t lost it. Time to sit in a comfy chair and read for a bit.

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Now, an update on my (re)discovery of Khun Chang Khun Phaen: I heart this epic so much right now.

1. I have a weakness for long epics anyway. (Yes, I’m looking at you, magnificent 20+ volume I-executed-a-forest-just-to-get-printed Mahabharata).

2. Reading it aloud soothes Círdan. Because nothing says daddy time like love affairs and warfare in sixteenth-century Siam.

3. YOU GUYS, the first 100 pages are about families.   . Those chapters are about childbirth and toddlers and getting kids to eat things they don’t want to eat and about fleeing with your son through the woods because your government wants to enslave you. And about the discomfort of sleeping in trees. And about outlaws riding war elephants into town while spahgetti Western music plays in the background (or that orchestral score might just be in my head) and about standing in front of a charge of water buffaloes with just a spear in your hand and true grit. And about getting an omen of your death and saying goodbye tearfully to your kid the next morning because otherwise you might not get to. It’s a story about parents. I haven’t enjoyed an ancient epic that much since the Odyssey (which is also about wives and husbands and kids and parents). This is no Iliad or Beowulf (not that I don’t love both of those). This is the Epic of Oh Shit Your Father’s Not Coming Home and There Are Guys With Torches Coming This Way And We Have To Go Right Now RIGHT NOW SON And Crap Now We’re in The Forest And You’re Throwing a Tantrum And What The Hell Do I Feed You Out Here, I Used To Be Rich, I Have No Idea, Don’t Cry Son, We’ll Make It.

And I can totally get into that kind of story.

Stant Litore

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and baby

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