About Ray

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 write about such states as California and Ohio, and such provinces as Guangdong. Now in Taiwan.

Fracture: short story by Xie Hong

Fracture is a short work of Chinese fiction written by Shenzhen-based author Xie Hong, translated by Ding Yan and edited by yours truly. Below is the link as recently published by the Los Angeles Review of Books’ China Channel, please enjoy reading:

https://chinachannel.org/2019/04/11/fracture

 

Fracture

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2009 – 2010 comics: Experiencing the new decade as an expat in China

Previous: 2007 to 2008 How Burning Man and psychedelics led me to China

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2009 and 2010, the beginnings of a new decade, as I become acclimated to life in Shenzhen/Hong Kong and have fun traveling in Southeast Asia (and America), and family stuff… plus I start dating somewhat regularly. Crazy, right?

 

Taiwan’s very own Burning Man!

I was recently lucky enough to be involved in a regional Burning Man festival, a precompression in fact, here in Taiwan.

I haven’t been since 2008, and I can hardly believe an entire decade has passed. The epic art festival out in Black Rock Desert was a pivotal experience in my life, and I’d always wanted to go again. Or, at least, go to a regional Burn somewhere else in the word.

Luckily, there’s the Turtle Burn!

It was technically called the Spark event which I went to last week, a sort of dry-run rehearsal for the larger burn coming up this June. Over the past few months, I’d met up with the organizers a number of times as we discussed the values and plans for this local Burner community in Taipei.

(And what synchronicity that I just did some comics about my Burn years as well…)

At last, during the Tomb-Sweeping holiday weekend, all was set up. Bronwen and I bought some costumes, reserved a tent and other camping supplies, and volunteered to set up a figure drawing workshop.

Our journey began with a bus to the east-coast country of Yilan, and then we negotiated a taxi to take us up the mountain to the remote 杉林奇蹟 camping ground. Absolutely stunning scenery overlooking the ocean. The family that ran the site were totally supportive, and they even had the cutest beagle. Partying times or not, I definitely recommend the place to everyone.

With only about forty people, it was amazing how much of the true Burning vibe they recreated. There was a free bar to hang out at, only rule is to bring your own cup. And of course, other party favors. There was a dome with pillows for chilling out and massage, a mutant art car, and an outdoor dancefloor complete DJ set as projections lit up the forest. And at last, a bonfire for the final night.

The performances were excellent, with burlesque shows and drag queen lip-singing as well as an impromptu puppet show. Some of the workshops included sign-making for your own camp (we chose to be called Elf Camp as you can see), improv comedy, a modeling lesson, and more.

As per the whole gifting economy, we gave away popcorn and sparklers. Plus, our own contribution to the workshops was in the form of two figure drawing workshops. I’ve been drawing quite a bit of late, so I tried my best to teach the fundamentals of the human form while using various materials to create some hopefully quality sketches… And, it only seemed fair that I modeled myself!

On Sunday we all took down our stuff and cleaned up thoroughly. Leave no trace behind, as they say. A bus was organized to go back down the perilous mountain, and I must admit I was rather tired when I got home that evening.

I was so happy to share the Burning Man experience with Bronwen, and I think most of the “Burgins” there had a great time and valuable introduction to the ethos that make these the best festivals on Earth. I heartily thank all those who helped made this happen, truly the best crowd.

Now, I can’t wait ‘till June!

Check out the website for more information if you’d like to participate in the Turtle Burn:
https://turtleburn.com/

2007 – 2008: How Burning Man and psychedelics led me to China (Finally!)

Previous: 2005 to 2006 Mid-Aughts

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2007 and 2008 were quite the years: a time of friendship and drug experimentation and further travel, and then back to Burning Man… Which leads to the moment you’ve all been waiting for, at last I move to China!

 

Review: Kiss and Tell

Kiss & Tell by Japanese-American artist MariNaomi is quite the hypersexual graphic memoir. (Which was recommended to me by a friend who compared this work to my own comic project, if I may say so.) To be honest, these tales have left me with mixed feelings. I always like a good uncensored tell-all, and I certainly respect the bravery of the artist to share all her most personal intimate moments.

But that sure was a whole lot of underage teenage sex, and it seemed wrong to me somehow. Am I losing my own “edginess”, or is it that in the post-Metoo era this 2011 book hasn’t aged well, and now we all know better when reading about high school girls fucking guys in their twenties… Like, is that what everyone in the Bay Area was like in the 80s and 90s? For this reader anyway, it was a bit much.

(Not that these experiences are celebrated exactly, but the straightforward way the memories are swiftly paged over makes one wonder if there’s some kind of a lesson missing or not. Perhaps I’m just missing the point though.)

The narrative is scattered, from one youthful vignette to the next, that is okay as a work of this nature. The most engaging parts do seem to have a greater story structure however, such as when she was a teen runaway or dated the guy who was in and out of jail–is it too judgey to point out her apparently questionable taste in men– and then the most interesting sort of storyline is towards the end when the author is in her first longterm relationship fraught with the challenges of an open relationship. That always makes for interesting drama! The same-sex encounters once she hits her twenties also somehow come across deeper than the earlier dramatic flings. Oh, and lest I forget to add the LSD psychedelia experiences were also drawn with much heart. Both sex and drugs make for a good read…

Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22 is presented in the understated indie comics style, with simple pure art and it works well in that context. I’d definitely agree that an autobiography the cartoon form is an excellent way to delve into the roughness that is one’s own memories. As a whole considering the emotional depth, art, and storytelling (discomfort or not), I’ll give it 3.5 stars and I’ll even round up.

I humbly thank MariNaomi for sharing.

Mid-Aughts 2005 to 2006 – Around the World: London, Paris, Hollywood, Girls

Previous: 2002 to 2004 Early-Aughts

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Covering the years 2005 to 2006, in which I traveled to Europe (with my mom), met my first true girlfriend, and finally re-moved to California. There I failed in L.A., but I did make some short films. And I began to write… 

Micro-Author Interview with Ray Hecht

The Ghosts of Nagasaki: A Novel

Ray is the author of the novel “South Morning China Blues” and many other works of fiction and autobiography.

At the moment, he is working on an autobiographical graphic novel entitled “Always Goodbye”. You can follow his progress on Webtoons here:

https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge…

What does being an indie author mean to you?

To me, being an indie author means being an author by any means necessary. The writing and story-telling and creativity in-of themselves are more important than being part of some big publishing company. Learning to market oneself is key, of course, but ultimately the fact that I’m willing to put myself out there without a big support structure shows that the writing is at the core of being an indie author…

What are your writing quirks and habits?

I used to stay up late writing, because it’s a quiet peaceful time and everyone would leave me alone. I don’t…

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Early Aughties the comic: feat. California, war, college, Japan

Previous: New Millennium 2000 – 2001

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2002 to 2004, featuring moving to California for a year, terrible Bush-era politics/war, then triumphant return to Cincinnati–in which we live in a party house and go to college and grow up. And I go to Japan!

 

2000 – 2001, New Millennium: On Teenage Sexuality (or lack thereof). And 9/11

Previous: Late 90s

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2000 to 2001, Happy New Year! I finally somehow graduate, Israel travel x 2, and some reflection on girls. Then, yet another national tragedy… Welcome to the 21st Century

 

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Wishing a Happy 2019! And may this all be over with soon…

Happy New Year!

So at this time of reflection, I think back on 2018 and all that’s happened. It was yet another great personal year, while the world around seemed to fall apart…

Obviously, if you’ve been paying attention, my own big news is that I’ve been working on my autobiographical comic Always Goodbye. Stay tuned for more. Eventually, a completed book. (Guess this is replacing my ‘career’ as a prose author, huh)

This past year I moved to the more central part of Taipei, and I’m continuing to enjoy living in Taiwan. As more and more news develops from the bamboo curtain–like that social credit score everyone is talking about but I’m not even going to get into–I’m quite glad to have escaped the People’s Republic.

I kind of did a ridiculous amount of travel in ’18. I started out last New Year’s in Japan,  then went to Africa,  and in the summer I returned to America to sadly sell my entire comics collection. For 2019, I plan to not get into an airplane even once.

And there were a whole lot of superhero movies.

As for the rest of the world. Well, politics. It was an exhausting year in which most things seem to have gotten worse, but there was also a bit of hope. Personally, I’m so very over it. Perhaps it’s all finally coming to a head. This chapter of history needs to close already, doesn’t it?

It’s been a while since I felt like writing an entire overt political post, and I’m sure you all know by now how I truly feel. American has learned some dark things about itself, and the time has come to get better. Consequences may be in the coming. And once it’s over with, I hope to never ever say the T-word for the rest of my life because that guy has gotten enough of my bloody attention and I’d just rather focus on other things.

Well, here’s hoping!

Please have yourselves a great 2019, everyone 😀

 

Ray

 

Late-90s: High school! Depression! Punks!

Previous: Mid 90s

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1997 to 1999… a time of new friends, crippling depression, and various punk scenes as the kid struggles to keep it together while high school just ends

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Mid-90s Comics Life Story, welcome to high school

Previous: Early 90s

Latest chapters of Always Goodbye on Webtoons.com

1994 to 1996, with dog and religion and continuing education and new best friend and reading and CDs and the all more trouble

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Always Goodbye: 1954 – 1984

This here is my autobiographical comic, Always Goodbye. Just a humble lo-fi take on my life, year-by-year…

 

Read them first at Webtoons.com: https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/always-goodbye/list?title_no=224697

 

Prologue, my parents meet in the middle of the world, I am born, and the family grows and goes. Suffice to say, to be continued–