One of our early tours together.
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on March 5, 2023I told Am Ang that I should not do a book review at Amazon. Simply because a review, if I know how, should be about the book, and not about my own overwhelming feelings and connections with his life stories. At this late date, all the insightful and all positive comments have already been made. At the risk of accusation of plagiarism, the book is not an ordinary memoir indeed. Written by a gifted author of very high professional achievements and contribution to society. Fully covering most aspects of human endeavours, cultural and traditional activities, music, food and wine, history, geography and travel logs, contemporary world events, politics, and notable celebrities, all kinds of personalities, etc. etc.
Easy to read, interesting and entertaining. Backbone of the book is the case files of the doctor with his autobiography built in and linked up to it. I have no medical background what-so-ever. Anorexia Nervosa to me is Karen Carpenter. Schizophrenic paranoia is Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny. Autism is Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, and so on. Yet I find most of the cases are so written that if we read on, most of the unknown medical terms eventually became self-explanatory. Losing track of story sequence could similarly be restored. Yes, we are both movie buffs. Only Am Ang use them to make a point. I get my education from them. By the way, I am recently hooked on the CBS series Bull, about a psychologist turned trial scientist to psycho-read jury for selection in court. Every episode is a new case of different story that reflected society. May be Am Ang would consider a similar project with the case details expanded. I also like the way the story line jumping back and forth through time. Isn’t it how our train of thought works, one thing reminding of another in time long passed? Oh, before I forget, I must mention the tons of common sense employed in the cases, something that separates a great professional from a just tick-box trained one.
Class reunion: Laguna Azul
So much, or so little left for me to say, about the book. It strikes me if Am Ang did not keep a detailed diary all through the years, then he must have exceptional memory. What should I say about the author? Not being long winded and for wanting of a better term, I will just say, to me, he is A Man of All Seasons. Not to be confused with the sixteenth century Englishman who lost his head by messing with the king with his eight wives. That guy they called A Man For All Seasons. How more original can one get? Rhetorically speaking, of course, just in case.
Now time to get close and personal. Am Ang just said to a group of us: “…. different bits of my book have a slightly different effect on different individuals and that its sharing is most treasured. …”. He spoke my mind. That established, I hereby challenge all comers to be the one most affected by the book.
My case as follows. My family returned to Hong Kong after the war when I was a toddler. We still have pictures of riding a tricycle. We settled in some ancestral premises in the walled village of Nga Tsin Wai, near the Kai Tak Airport. My uncle, aunt, with two of their five children joined us shortly later. One uncle and father-in-law were fighter pilots during the war.
Then came Kowloon Government Primary School. The tiffin lunch box, the first record player/radio/speaker combo with our first records. Train rides through the tunnel pulling down windows, and on and on. Then there were three last years of high school with Am Ang in the same class. With good marks he entered HKU Medical School and then UK to be British. With poor marks I ended up in Canada to be Canuck. We both enjoy non team sports. For him it is golf and snorkeling and for me is scuba and fencing.
Snorkeling in Laguna Azul
After retirement, in our many reunion holiday cruises and trips we did snorkel together in Aruba and Panama.
Did I say I have no more to say about the book? Not true. Still have to tell what the effects are on me. I am lucky to have a career full of interesting anecdotes in a boring profession. Still that is where I lost many points compared with the case encyclopedia of our renowned child psychiatrist in Cockroach II. However, with the very similar childhood background, same secondary school, closely mirrored life path thereafter, and the many reunion trips later, I find my life story all over the book. Natural to think that it is a coincidence and unique.
Class Reunion at Valle Escondido
Then Am Ang tipped us off. With the huge scope of life experiences encompassed in the book, it is inevitable that anyone could find a piece of himself or herself in it. Just a matter of how much.
A great book of knowledge, no matter how good, is the author sharing his or her knowledge. A great book of wisdom, no matter how wise, is the author sharing his or her wisdom. Cockroach II, however, is my good friend Am Ang, sharing knowledge, wisdom, and his life story to remind all of us, whether know him or not, about our own lives. That is what this book is all about.
There is hope as the sun rises!