Melinda's Reviews > Hip Hop Apsara: Ghosts Past and Present

Hip Hop Apsara by Anne Elizabeth Moore
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's review
Aug 03, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: dancing, different-but-good, dramatic, healing, historical, enjoyable, flashbacks, society, imagery, photographic
Read from August 03 to 07, 2012

I have read graphic novels and novels with pictures, but I have never read a novel with pictures with had no words - until now. Hip Hop Apsara:Ghosts Past and Present is a book of all photographs of the city of Phnom Penh in the country of Cambodia at the Night Market. The book is about a cultural phenomenon that is occuring in the Night Market each evening. It makes things much easier to understand if you lived through, or if you have considerable knowledge of the era of the war is VietNam. That way, you can surmise why mass groups of people would be dancing to Hip Hop music in the Night Market in Phnom Penh. This is a stunning photographic work of nonfiction.

THE PLOT: As there are no written words - here goes my imagination, including inductive and deducive logic. Let's say some guy is in his car in the Night Market - parked with about a bezillion watts of power backing his stereo. His subwoofer is booming Hip Hop music at about 200 decibels. People start dancing. They can't help themselves - the beat is too strong and the the rhythm carries them away while they dance, they forget all their problems, their grief, their sorrows,their rage, - letting the music sweep them away to some enjoyable place. Soon more cars were parked - booming away. More people were dancing - lessons were being given. Wounds were healing that had never healed previously - one dance at a time. The next thing you know, live bands are playing and masses of people are dancing; it's a cultural phenomenon. The city has found a miracle - healing through dancing after a horrific war that nobody wanted. The people in the photos look so happy - without a care in the world. It's so nice to see the people smiling. As an educated guess, I give this plot, 10/10.

The CHARACTERIZATION: What better characterization than a photo? The person is fully discernable as human. While you may have to use inductive and deductive logic to find some things out, it is clear that there are people - real, human people. With two eyes, two ears a nose and a mouth. With clothes and a smiles, happily dancing away in the night. Do we know their quirks and foibles? Do we know their flaws and strengths? The answer is no! But, what we do know is that they are happy and that they are healing from tragedies that are so horrific that you or I experiencing those same things would quake in our boots if faced with what they faced. I would say that this is one of their strengths after all. The strength to carry on in the face of extreme adversity - a strength we should all have. For characterization, I give this an 8/10.

THE DIALOGUE: Clearly, with all the photos - there is no dialogue, on the page at least, but if you look at the photos close up, you can surmise what the couples are saying to each other during their enjoyment of the dance. While the dialogue is all in the reader's imaginations - it is clearly uplifting, as these couples bend and twirl in their choreography. It is very hard to give a score for this one - as there is nothing on paper, so I'll split the difference, and give it a 5/10 for dialogue.

THE IMAGERY: The photos and the reader's imaginations plus logic tell the entire story, but the photos provide the images that drive the book - are it's backbone per se. And therefore, I believe I am within my rights to simply give this one a 10/10 for imagery.

THE PACING: The pacing is completely left up to the reader. The reader xan browse through the book; thoughtfully examining each photo for content and context, or he can simply thumb through the photos to get a feeling for the material and then go back to the beginning and then start slowly working his way from photo to photo, after getting a general idea of what the book is about. Any way a reader chooses to pace himself or herself on this book is absolutely correct. The way I did it was thumbing through the photos then going photo by photo slowly so that I had some context about the content before I started examining the photos directly for details to draw conclusions using logic and knowledge from the war era that I actually lived through in my childhood. Think about which people in those pictures were alive during the war period and which ones were kids, which were not born yet. The war was over about 38 years ago (approximately), so that makes babies who were born at the end of the of the war 38 years old now. Soldiers fighting the war - including the kids that fought too, starting as young as twelve years old, would be as old as 50 - 70 years old. So look for white or grey hair. Or ar least a touch of white or grey at the temples or the sides and in the front. The people in their 50s to 70s would be the walking wounded - if they could dance and heal it would be a miracle, look at the photos. I give pacing a 10/10.

THE GORE SCORE: There is no gore here: The Gore Score is 0/10.

THE ENDING: It's clear that the ending is the miracle that ocurred with the dancing. If you look closely at the pictures; especially those at the front of the book, there is a lot of white hair there. This means the healing of soldiers that fought in the war - that horrific war that no one really wanted. I remember being a child and waiting for draft numbers to come up for my friends' Father's and brother's and cousin's and some went and some died over in Nam. It was a horrible experience for everyone. A part of my childhood filled with crying, protests, governmental lying, and people I knew dying while watching TV seeing troops beiing shot and killed by the enemy. That the people of Cambodia could find a miracle to heal themselves such as public Hip Hop dancing - God Bless them all. We still haven't found our miracle yet in America. It is sorely needed. For an ending, I give this a 10/10.

THE UPSHOT: I really didn't know how this review would go. For me, it has brought up many feeling that I had totally forgotten. With tears in my eyes, I write this paragraph astounded how easily this review was written - a book of all pictures. Who would have guessed? If you have lived through the war era, or know know someone who did, this may be the book for you. It would be so nive to think that the healing would be from to the book to the reader through osmosis,coming over through some membrane like a photo into the brain, and staying there to seed into something that heals the reader too. I've got to believe that if they can do that in Cambodia, we can do it in the U.S. as well. There is so much healing that needs to be done all over this planet. Buy the book, then, start in your town - go dancing. After that, go to the next town and start dancing there too - then the next town over - and on and on and on. Pretty soon, the entire country will be dancing in the moonlight and we will all be healed of everything that we are suffering from. This country need healing - but let's not use Hip Hop. How about something home grown! Some Rock & Roll, some Red Dirt, some Country Rock, Blues wouldn't be bad too. Are you up for it? I am! The vets from this war deserve everting that we can do to heal their wounds. The country rejected them because the hippies were protesting the war when they came home. Let's make them feel welcome again. Make their pain go away - a dance at a time. This review gets and MLB score of 53/60 which gets 5 stars. See the ratings systems below. The book will be available 8/28/12

MLB Rating System

Points Rating
50 - 60 5 stars
40 - 49 4 stars
30 - 39 3 stars
20 - 29 2 stars
10 - 19 1 star
0 - 9 0 stars
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Reading Progress

08/07/2012 page 323
100% "This is YA like Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series. It's exuberance is compelling. 6 teenagers from Earth go to another world where a prophecy says they will save the world from evil, anf magic is alive and well, but so is evil."

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