Esquire (Malaysia) - - EDITOR'S LETTER -

We’ve screamed half­way past 2017 al­ready, and you’ll be read­ing this af­ter the tri­umph and tri­umphal­ism of KL2017’S record medal haul for both the SEA Games and Para Games, all per­fectly cleav­ing to the script for Merdeka and Malaysia Day, fol­lowed by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s al­most-visit to open Xi­a­men Univer­sity here, and who knows what next. (Print is a fun medium be­cause it al­lows for spec­u­la­tion.)

Cue scenes of tri­umph, tri­umphal­ism, Pres­i­dent Trump, PM Na­jib, the Trump Tower; cut to ‘Beds in the East’ on page 82: An­thony Burgess fan Mark Dis­ney writes an ode to his po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect cur­mud­geon-hero, and un­earths a trove of en­ter­tain­ing in­sights and start­ing points for fur­ther ex­plo­ration of Malayan his­tory. Burgess is an un­fairly less well-known author; less fa­mous than Som­er­set Maugham, for ex­am­ple, even though he was born 100 years ago this year and taught a gen­er­a­tion of cor­po­rate and po­lit­i­cal chief­tains at that re­doubt of na­tional lead­er­ship, Malay Col­lege Kuala Kangsar. When you re­mem­ber that he wrote A Clock­work Or­ange, you be­gin to won­der how a writer and teacher could change the course of a coun­try. The novel is only part of an eclec­tic mul­ti­me­dia oeu­vre that in­cludes Malayan Tril­ogy and other megapro­jects.

We segue to ‘Son of the Soil’ (page 32), where Pauline Fan keeps with the theme by il­lu­mi­nat­ing Car­los Bu­losan’s Filipino im­mi­grant ex­pe­ri­ence, one yoked to eco­nomic con­di­tions and race, both es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ents of iden­tity, which we use to dis­tin­guish our­selves from one an­other: be­liever from un­be­liever, sa­cred from pro­fane, man from woman. Race and econ­omy were writ large in Bu­losan’s life—and ours.

More on in­gre­di­ents and iden­tity: ‘Sec­ond to Nun’ (page 72) was first pub­lished in the food is­sue of this mag­a­zine’s ex­cel­lent coun­ter­part, Esquire Sin­ga­pore. We’ve dis­tilled it for Malaysia, and mixed in some of Paul Gadd’s as­ton­ish­ing shots of the global but still un­worldly su­per­star nun, Jeong Kwan sunim. Like Gadd, Ming the food pro had trekked to Chun­ji­nam Her­mitage in Korea, where he strug­gled to rec­on­cile a “gen­tle, gen­tle” pres­ence of a nun with a mas­cu­line phys­i­cal­ity. Jeong Kwan sunim’s evanes­cent cui­sine is à la minute and in-sea­son. There are no recipes, let alone carbs, fats or pro­tein; just food cooked with care and lev­ity that caters to what you need, then and there. For Ming, it was per­haps a taste of lib­er­a­tion.

Speak­ing of which, why have so many of us taken up run­ning? Yes, sneak­ers, but also to get away from the bits of life we don’t like (haha, not likely), or at least the en­dor­phin-high will wipe away the sor­rows of modern life­style for a few kilo­me­tres. Kuah Jen­han’s Run Away Now! se­ries of marathons (page 50) is an in­sight­ful ob­ser­va­tion of the trend­ing out­door ac­tiv­ity of our times. Then there’s the Barkley Marathons in the Ap­palachi­ans for very se­ri­ous run­ners.

JA­SON TAN Ed­i­tor-in-chief

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