Long story short, raised in America from the Midwest to the West Coast on a starchy diet of movies and comics and science fiction paperbacks. There's a Mid-East connection in there too. I like to write about such states as California and Ohio, and such provinces as Guangdong. Japan being an interesting topic as well.
Lived in Shenzhen, China since 2008 (has it really been that long?), a lovely Special Economic Zone Hong Kong-bordering chaotic city that has given me so much. I occasionally do some freelance journalism for various local publications. If you're actually interested, just google "Ray Hecht Shenzhen" for more...
A few inspirations, if I may: Irvine Welsh, William S. Burroughs, James Joyce, Grant Morrison, Daniel Clowes, Haruki Murakami, Bret Easton Ellis, Neal Stephenson, Philip K. Dick
Where to find Ray Hecht online
The Ghost of Lotus Mountain Brothel
Alice Ling Yoo, also known as Ling Ling, is a working girl in China. This is her diary.
The story of an average girl with big dreams. Times are changing. Asia is overrun with foreign businessmen of questionable character. Political upheaval is on everyone's mind. An economic future uncertain. Historic times.
The year is 1911, but it could just as well be today.
For China lovers of all eras.
Nan -heart- Nu
This is a silent story. Not much to say. Boy meets girl, and...
Fenton Ota is at his wit's end. After not making it big as an actor in Hollywood, he's forced to return to his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio with his tail between his legs. Once home, he embarks on a creative journey of lies and (failed) attempts at brilliance, as he struggles to produce a postmodern metafictional play, all for the love of a girl...
It is Mid-Autumn Festival in Lunar Colony 01111001's Chinatown, a holiday celebrated by eating mooncake and regaling with tales of Chang'e flying to the moon.
Little Xiao Yue asks her grandfather what it all means. There is always a generation gap. How can precocious children in the future understand the metaphor?
Enjoy this short short, a taste of one writer's science fiction and Sino overlap..
Cupcake Dreamy #1
Shopping Spree. It can mean different things to different people. In this first installment of the indie comics series Cupcake Dreamy we find Angie and Kent, two lost souls wandering the streets of Hollywood. As they say, this is where dreams go to die. And some may take that too literally.
There used to be a time when people called 411 for information. But on the other side of that dial tone there may be a place of madness. A tale of revenge and the secret power of media. Be careful out there, one never knows what kind of hidden messages are leaking through the frequency.
Ray Hecht’s tag cloud
Ray Hecht's favorite authors on Smashwords
Smashwords book reviews by Ray Hecht
- Smashwords Style Guide
on Aug. 23, 2013
Not only is this an incredibly helpful guide to getting started on Smashwords, invaluable in the process. but its also a great tutorial on Microsoft Word. We've all probably been using Word for years and didn't realize how all those options work. I'm grateful for all I've learned. And, of course, the price is right.
I am officially on the road to online self-publishing, now that the formatting part is done let's see if the writing is actually good and I can have some success...
In any case, thanks Mark!
- A Week And A Day In The Lives Of Two Angry Young Men
on Dec. 29, 2013
That cover is particularly disturbing if you make it to the end. Be careful with spoons!
In the esteemed tradition of the epistolary format, these diary entries tell it all...
Don't trifle with the Kind of the Leprechauns indeed.
- The Towering Inferno Versus The Mighty Quinn
on Dec. 30, 2013
Now that was a fun read.
Stripper versus a horny fire demon, and all the action that can ensue. The premise itself is very funny and imaginative, and execution is well-written. Some of the best lines are simply the fire demon YELLINGGGG!
My favorite part is the end, when we discover the specifics of the anatomy and the story concludes well with a great payoff, both for me and for Mandy.
I'll have to pay more attention to this writer...
- Claude The Unhappy Caterpillar/Popo The Cheeky Monkey/Sselmorg The Fire Breathing Dragon
on Jan. 02, 2014
This short story with the very long-title is an amazingly irreverent. Its postmodern, metafictional, it breaks the 4th wall and its guaranteed to be funnier than your favorite high-brow experimental theatre piece.
There is a treatise on the nature of storytelling, how characters get away from you. Dig deeper and let us question the nature of identity; what makes all these reboots the "same" character just because the narrator says so? Speaking of the narrator, one could get quite theological...
With some commentary on sexism in high-fantasy epics to boot.
Incidentally, I like Popo the Cheeky Monkey as the best incarnation. Sselmorg vs. Kylie was fun too.
And I love how there's a new Smashwords licensing note everytime the story starts over, Smashwords is mentioned in it as well, I mean really how's that for self-referential brilliance?!
A bit anticlimactic at the end, but that's kind of the point.
- It's The End Of The Universe As We Know It [And I Feel Scared]
on Feb. 16, 2014
Great comedic science fiction - a subgenre we don't see nearly enough of - in the tradition of Douglas Adams. It was too short, I wanted more, which is what good flash fiction should do.
The mirror image spaceship, the one-liners, and the shock! ending. Enough has been said about the bizarre concepts, read it yourself. What, you want a detailed review that's almost as long as the whole piece?
However, I don't think the explanation at the end of where the author got his story ideas is necessary. It's all well and good that a writing assignment had such requirements, but I'd kinda rather not know that and just let myself assume it was all from one crazy imagination. We all take inspiration where we can get it, but unless you want to credit the writing teacher there's no need to detail that...
on Feb. 19, 2014
Full of very well-written descriptions, the writer is a talent. The reader really feels the woods, the textures, the emotions, the animals and this cruel man. Every little detail concerning the natural setting and many lifeforms therein, it sets the mood perfectly.
I look forward to one day reading something more long-form from Mr. Carter.
Also, karma's a bitch!
- The Exact Unknown and Other Tales of Modern China
on April 03, 2014
Isham Cook is quite the blogger. The mysterious Beijing-based writer has completed a new book of blogs reformatted as literary short tales entitled “The Exact Unknown and Other Tales of Modern China,” a follow-up to 2012′s novel “Lust & Philosophy.” Full of grotesque universal truths, strange depictions of Eastern modernity, and the proverbial expats caught in the middle, the book can be flawed in sections but is always a compelling read.
In the introduction Cook explains to readers that he doesn’t want to write about the exotic, tragic China so popularized by fifth generation art films of the 80s and 90s. But rather, as the title states, it’s about modern China. He also clarifies why he uses the term ‘tale’ instead of short story, in order to have a broader outlook covering all aspects of writing from the semi-autobiographical to straight fiction.
The book is erotic, funny, and sometimes profound. Sexuality is a central theme, but doesn’t always take itself too seriously. Even the most philosophical elements are never dry or academic, but with just the right amount of absurdity to entertain as well as enlighten.
“The Persistent” is first, jumping us right into the subject of dating in China. The tale concerns an obsessive woman who won’t go away, and the narrator describes more than a few of his own experiences with Chinese women. The stalkers, the 30-somethings, the virgins. The line “foreign men in this country do tend to attract the psychos of the female population” sums up well what much of these tales are about. As does a subsequent sentence, issuing no judgments: “This is not necessarily a bad thing.” That’s a bit of the point, wild things happen in China and that’s the reason to be there.
The namesake “The Exact Unknown” concerns seduction via vodka massage, the Surveillance State, a plot about blackmailing over a video which may or may not exist, and in a literally-anticlimactic ending it concludes with no sex. It could almost enter the realm of Philip K. Dick over the speculations upon reality, but ends too prematurely for that kind of depth.
“iProstitution” is one of the funniest pieces, ostensibly about the selling of one’s body for Apple products but really more about sexual frustration in general. “A Little Accident” is refreshingly not about foreigners at all, an original short story just concerning Chinese characters. Again portraying reality as ambiguous, it concerns an elderly man who may or may not be cheating a young woman (and/or doctors cheating her) and the subject of Chinese Medicine which may or may not work at all.
“Good Teacher, Bad Teacher” takes the oft-used campus setting as far as it can go, with an intense Western teacher expounding upon philosophy and culminates in mysterious naked yoga massage advanced courses. There is the unresolved mystery of “Paradox,” whereas an interesting premise is set up with mysterious nude pictures of students emerging yet in the end there is never is a true explanation, no resolution.
“The Curious Benefits of Neurosis” is about various massages, some of which get quite graphic. And hilarious at the same time! The first-person narratives are often the strongest, and (so one assumes) the closest to autobiography.
Some tales like not much of narratives at all. “The Mean and the Angry” is not so much a story as a description of various Beijing subway archetypes. At times it seems as insider knowledge of Beijing is required, and if a reader is not familiar with greater Middle Kingdom tropes then the whole thing may be hard to follow. Still, the audience is sure to mostly consist of expats.
“Let the Sunshine In” is among the best, a truly engaging work of drug literature about a naïve Chinese student’s first LSD experience. Very vivid descriptions of a bathroom setting, which tends to be a terrifying and confusing place when having a bad psychedelic trip. Not to mention the chronological distortions at play.
Two tales are written in play script formats are used, with “The Hickey” and the penultimate “Reset.” They read well as prose in of themselves. It’s hard to expect that anyone will ever act out the plays in real life, with the copious nudity and sex scenes and all; but it’s nice to imagine. “Reset” is the longest piece in the book, about sentient robotic sex toys. The tale is extremely philosophical, hard science fiction, and well-written social commentary/speculation on the future of China and all humanity’s sexual relationships.
The final story, “Injaculation” is written in the second person and mixes Taoist sexuality with hard scientific biological-psychedelic principles. There is a diverse range of writing styles, but same themes keep coming up…
The author clearly has a vivid imagination, and is talented at the craft of writing. Still, whether semi-autobiographical or not, it would be nice to not lean so often on the cliché of expat teacher in China. There are expats doing other things, and maybe more Chinese protagonists would be nice. While the setting is something that Cook is truly an expert on, and he really writes about it compellingly, it can get repetitive. Let’s hope Cook’s next book takes up more original territory. I for one am extremely anxious to read more.
- Little Red King - Sample Chapter 1: John's First Night Out
on April 28, 2014
A good start. Travis Lee is definitely a talented writer and knows how to paint a picture. Engaging crisp dialogue and good pacing. Each 一,二,三 section ends on a dramatic note that makes you want to read more.
However, it still seems a bit cliched for everyone to be an English teacher. Sure that's a common enough way to be in China, especially in places like Wuhan, but I for one don't agree with always writing what you know and it would be more original to show a broader range of expat.
John is the introductory character who is new to China and readers can see through his eyes, while still a lot of Chinese terms are thrown around that non-China expat readers wouldn't understand. Is this only for a westerner-in-China audience or can anyone read to learn more?
The best parts are when Jarrett comes along and starts with his scams. I hope to see more of that character. Now there's an expat I want to know more about.
The ending is suspenseful and makes me really look forward to reading the next chapter. After that, I might even have to read the whole thing!
- Little Red King - Sample Chapter 2: John's First Impressions
on May 05, 2014
The plot thickens...
A lot goes on in this second chapter. The characters are developing, elements of a greater plot start to unfold.
I'd like to star it 3 and a half, because it does get better, so I rounded up to 4 points.
However, the plot does seem to be coming in slow. I suppose that's necessary when jumping around to so many different points of view. The scattered pacing in fact makes the story read fast and entertains. Every few pages cuts to someone else and leaves me wanting more, which is a good thing.
I enjoyed the description of the netbars. The backstory unfolding of John in France is engaging, making that character more interesting. Ah, with the introduction of April at the end finally some sex appeal. Too bad the chapter suddenly ended, but again, it surely leaves me wanting to read more!
A bit too much Chinese, common phrases which ;laowai' who have been to China will understand but other readers won't be able to follow. Also, WOW (isn't it WoW) obviously refers to World of Warcraft but a non-gaming reader might need more. I'd refer the author to the novel Reamde by Neal Stephenson which talks about gaming quite a bit but introduces it in a readable way for the layman.
Travis Lee is a talented writer, and he knows the world of English teachers in Wuhan very well. Still, it would be nice to use more imagination and go beyond that world. ESL is one good way to enter the fascinating land of China, but there is far more going on. Worldly businessmen, seedy tourists, academics, corrupt government officials, the nouveau riche locals, the uncultured peasant class just trying to get by, etc.
Anxiously awaiting sample chapter 3, which will hopefully come out soon.