On March 16th, I attended a book tour for Marco Ferrarese’s new book, Banana Punk Rawk Trails. I’ve heard of Marco Ferrarese since I first saw his book, Nazi Goreng at MPH Bookstore and thought it’s a clever play on the word ‘Nasi Goreng‘ but with an interesting yet controversial story – about Malaysia’s Nazi-Skinhead culture and international drug smuggling ring. The book was translated to Malay by Dubook Press but then the news came saying it’s banned. I have yet to read that book.
Marco has published a few short stories in Fixi’s anthologies as well. I’ve read his stories in KL Noir Blue and Lost in Putrajaya but I have yet to read PJ Confidential.
Ipoh was his last stop. The book tour was held at Jiu Mei bookstore. I have never heard of that bookstore before despite living in Ipoh almost my entire life (minus 4 1/2 years in PJ). I had absolutely no idea where it’s at either. Thanks to Google Map, I found out it’s actually near Cakchibow Cafe and Hello Elvis. No signboard whatsoever.
Summary of Banana Punk Rawk Trails:
Between 2010 and 2015, travel writer, author and metal punk guitarist Marco Ferrarese was the one and only ‘white elephant in the room’ of the Malaysian metal punk scene. A European inbred metal punk fool stranded in a globalised world of transnational extreme music chop suey. In this highly electric and graphic memoir, Ferrarese tells you how it was to play lead guitar in Penang’s thrashcore band WEOT SKAM, negotiating flimsy stage set-ups and shady promoters in order to gel into a developing world’s music scene. He takes you on a no-frills road bonanza scouring for sonic extremities across the whole length of Malaysia and Borneo. He chases down long-haired metal punk descendants of Iban headhunting tribes, scrawny Bidayuh anarcho-punk rockers, Kadazan-Dusun activist artists, skullcap-toting Muslim death metallers, and gets you a seat in WEOT SKAM’s rickety van for a DIY sleigh ride through the bowels of Jakarta and the vulgar, bogan-filled streets of Bali. Will your seatbelts fasten quickly enough?
According to the poster, the event will start at 8pm. I reached there about 15 minutes late and was kind of worried I was too late. When I reached there, there were only a few people and I thought it was over! Glad to find out that it hadn’t even started yet and they were still setting up. I guess some people wanted to have dinner first? I don’t know.
They finally started the event at about 9 pm. By then, more people came into the store, filling up the empty chairs. I was quite surprised to be honest because I didn’t see them earlier when I arrived.
Marco started by telling us about his journeys and experiences in the metal punk scene in different countries, a little bit about his book Nazi Goreng and a few other topics. The event ended at about 10-ish pm.
I met a familiar face, we chatted, then we checked out the upper floor of the bookstore for a few minutes.
As I’ve mentioned, I never knew the existence of Jiu Mei bookstore before this event. Maybe because the store focuses mostly on Chinese books. But they have recently started to bring in some English books and I saw some Fixi books being sold there. What’s special about this place is that for an annual fee (I think RM60?), you not only could borrow books but DVDs as well.
The upper floor housed quite a number of DVDs including rare films/drama/documentaries, a limited selection of English books and loads of Chinese books. Hopefully, they would sell more books not available in bigger bookstores like MPH or Popular. For book lovers like myself, it’s actually a nice place to be at, especially the upper floor with tables and chairs. Feels like a small, very old library and I love that.
…If only they had more English or even Malay books.