Book Reviews

What Do You Pack? If You’re Never Coming Back…

15 True Stories of Those Who Left Their Past Behind

compiled by
Roberto Di Marco

2014, 268 pp., 21.6 x 14 cm., softcover.

ISBN-13: 978-974-524-152-7 $25.00




What Do You Pack?

Book review by Lang Reid

(Pattaya Mail newspaper - Friday June 6, 2014 Vol. XXII No. 23)


Most of the long time ex-pats who read the Pattaya Mail would relate to this book by Dr. Roberto Di Marco, “What do you pack (if you’re never coming back)” [ISBN 978-974-524-152-7, Orchid Press, 2014 (English) 2007 (Italian)].
   What Di Marco has done is to collect 15 (reputedly) true stories of those who left their past behind.
   I have always contended that those who voluntarily leave their own society to become an alien in some foreign land are not the more “usual” members of their home society. Di Marco splits them up into those who escaped (the fugitives) and those who voluntarily and deliberately have chosen to live in a foreign country who may be adventurers or escapees from unhappy circumstances.
   Dr. Di Marco is an interesting chap, as well as being an author, he holds qualifications in psychiatry, psychology and clinical criminology and is well known in his (native I presume) Italy for his writings, plays and contributor to Playboy and Penthouse (nobody buys Playboy and Penthouse for the words, no matter how much they try to deny it).
   Each of the fifteen expats gives his story as to why they left and what they have found in their new home. At the end of their tales, Di Marco gives a psychological perspective or assessment, to make the ex-pat’s decisions more understandable.
   In some ways the book is very much like a different form of travelogue, showing the reader what life in the various countries is like for the expats and allow some understanding of the local culture (or sometimes lack of it!). The madness that is the “Carnaval” is explained in terms which encompass both the end result and the Brazilian attitude to life and living.
   The personal trials and tribulations are much the same for all of the relocated expats, with loneliness being almost universal. One remarked, “A fellow countryman is usually sufficient reason to become friends.” And this of course is with people they would ordinarily never have a friend relationship back home. It is this loneliness that propels the expats into relationships (often unsuitable), thus compounding the problems that they had in their previous existence. This was especially so with men who were bigamists before, and then follow the same patterns in their new homelands.
   “Some of the writers had anger management problems, and being in an alien society means that these people are even more likely to become frustrated and violent.
   “Many different destinations are mentioned, including Angkor Wat, Japan, America, India, Thailand and South Africa with interesting cultural characteristics being highlighted such as the sexual mores of the Japanese, as seen by the American who became a gigolo.

[Read a review from The South China Morning Post] [Read a review from the Jakarta News] [Read a review from the Phuket Mail] [More Orchid Press Reviews]