Moore calls the introduction "Genocide to Latte," the jarring contrast meant to suggest the jarring strangeness of his return to a country once ruled by terror and human extermination, then by a nervous, edgy post-war sense that anything could happen, and now by tourists in expensive hotels and Cambodians hungry to rejoin the world:
“`Time walks fast,' said the young Khmer woman DJ with a breezy California accent. She might have been in a shopping center in Los Angeles. But she had never been outside of Cambodia. And she was young, broadcasting in English to the generation of Cambodians born after the Khmer Rouge had been defeated. `Time walks fast,' she said again.”and
“On the 7-dollar ride from the airport, the driver had tuned to an English language station in Phnom Penh. He understood English. The whole country was studying the English language. The bookshops stocked Madonna, An Intimate Biography and John Grisham’s Summons. How to do tapes for Chinese, French, and Japanese were displayed on the shelf. A little more than a generation earlier the Khmer Rouge had been killing anyone who spoke a foreign language or read foreign books. Now the streets were filled with students in their white shirts and black trousers carrying books and dreaming of riches.”That's a nice portrait of post-war strangeness. How does one capture in words the strangeness of seeing frenzied consumer-fueled optimism in a land that had only recently known the horror of mass murder? How does one mind encompass both? How does one who knows the first look upon the second without experiencing a queasy sense of unreality? Damned if I know, but Moore makes a nice start.
© Peter Rozovsky 2012