That Night By The Beach and Other Stories
by Phan Ming Yen
A mysterious woman visits a patient in the middle of the night; a mute girl smiles ‘thank you’ to a music shop assistant; the guilty revisit the scene of their crime; a soldier enters a room. Drawing inspiration from the music of 19th and 20th century Europe, this debut collection of stories is an experiment in language and form, seeking to capture loss and betrayal the way music would: aural experiences of nostalgia and heartache evoked through melody and harmony.
".....this collection of short stories begin with music as a source of inspiration: music that would either make for an enjoyable listening experience, or the context or structure or history of which is related to themes dealing with the inevitable of the everyday – of loss, death and betrayal.
Like their sources of inspiration, these stories are journeys in form and sound, postcards of passing moods and moments, intended for reading in the quiet of a sleepless night or solely for entertainment. And as with alcohol, if consumed in the right amount, it leaves the drinker with a mixture of nostalgia and a pleasant light-headedness.
Or perhaps, the stories can be enjoyed as one enjoys the description of an unwatched film but the soundtrack of which one has already heard and fallen in love with."
- Excerpt from the Preface.
About the Author
Phan Ming Yen was a research scholar at the National Institute of Education studying Western classical music practices in 19th and early 20th century Singapore. He is the researcher and writer of Touches: 10 Years of the Singapore Dance Theatre; contributing writer ofNarratives: Notes on a Cultural Journey: Cultural Medallion Winners 1979 – 2001; and co-compiler of Edwin Thumboo: Bibliography 1952 – 2008. A former journalist and magazine editor, Phan works as an arts administrator in Singapore. This is his first book of fiction.
“The stories are a melodic delight. The whole idea is intriguing and Phan has successfully intertwined the silent music in the writing - it all flows beautifully. The prose itself is sensitive and lyrical and insightful and full of charm. These are tales to be read quietly and in peaceful surroundings – for they have a meditative quality to them - and Phan is to be congratulated for an original and beautifully written piece of work.”
- Meira Chand, author of A Different Sky and A Choice of Evils
“I am yet to read words such as these that evoke with great delicacy so much that we each carry within - from dazzling hope to deep wilderness. Phan Ming Yen’s virtuoso score transforms a fleeting moment into an unforgettable episode, each story poised elegantly at the crossroads of poetry, music and dreams.”
- Kunal Basu, author of The Yellow Emperor’s Cure and The Japanese Wife
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Dimension: 130mm x 200mm