DOUBLE SOMTOW AUTOBIOGRAPHIES RELEASED THIS MONTH
S.P. Somtow is publishing twin memoirs this month, almost mirror images of each other. One, Nirvana Express, is a journal of his life as a Buddhist monk in 2001; the other, Sounding Brass, is an extraordinary memoir from the 1970s, the true story of how he ghost-wrote the entire musical oeuvre of American diplomat, politician and banker J. William Middendorf, II. Read together, they paint an amazing picture of the man called by the International Herald Tribune “the most well-known expatriate Thai in the world.”
Novelist, composer and conductor Somtow Sucharitkul (who writes books under the name S.P. Somtow) had an extraordinary epiphany while driving down the California coast. At almost 50 years of age, having spent very little time in his native Thailand, he was seized by an overwhelming desire to enter a Buddhist monastery.
Nirvana Express is the story of that journey, full of surprises, culture shock, discoveries, humor and spirituality. Visions, dreams, comedy, philosophy, wisdom and superstition mingle in an unforgettable fusion.
Irony and insight also characterize Sounding Brass, an extraordinary tale of a collaboration between a composing prodigy and a Washington politician, the story of how a Thai schoolboy came to create the entire oeuvre of an American composer is fabulous in the true sense of the world … a modern mythic journey.
A true story … yet one that beggars belief … with cameo appearances by all sorts of members of the Washington “swamp” … and the odd science fiction writer dropping in for a chat: it’s a real-live Forrest Gump story, with a brief appearances from the Grateful Dead to Isaac Asimov to Oliver North to the governor of Bangkok, the Queen of Holland, and William Casey’s Chinese chef.
It’s a story about the human need to want to break boundaries and exceed limitations. It’s about dreams and aspirations, and in the end we need to ask questions about the very nature of art and about why we as humans need art in our lives.
It is also the story of two people from vastly divergent cultures, two people who both, perhaps, felt alienated from the people and situations that surrounded them, and who came to share a strangely intimate bond.
A never-before-told secret history, this memoir by the first Asian to be awarded the European Cultural Achievement Award is an eye-opener.
the publishing industry went through a revolution
The collapse of the midlist in publishing at the turn of the 21st Century had a major impact on some of the world's most popular — but not blockbuster — writers as only the publication of very low-budget books and very high budget releases became financially feasible in the traditional publishing industry.
About five years ago, Somtow realized that he had a mine of 50 or more books that were out of print with the rights reverted. Diplodocus Press was created at first to make these books available again using the new Print on Demand technology. Diplodocus Press also experimented with releasing novels by other writers such as the late Sharon Webb and horror writer P.D. Cacek.
This year, Diplodocus is expanding its releases to the Kindle arena and will be producing a series of anthologies and collections as well.