Click logo above to see more about Barckmann's fiction

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Farewell the Dragon Reviews

  Buy Farewell the Dragon here!

 Take a look at the reviews so far!

"Farewell the Dragon is a rigorous examination of personal agency and universal morality. It contains all of the toxic glamour of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and a moderate dash of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code...Barckmann’s novel is one that has achieved something rare: It has uncovered a unique corner of twentieth-century culture and delicately sculpted it into a story worth remembering and reading for years to come."

Farewell the Dragon was a finalist for the 2018 "Book of the Year"  award by Red City Review

Red City Finalists

"...Barckmann is reaching for a depiction of time and place and character that rivals more classic tales of flawed individuals struggling with their exotic environments and their own shortcomings...There are similarities also in flaws, introspection, regret ...which echo Graham Greene’s characters, "

"A compelling read that will have readers sticking with the book long after bedtime. It’s hard to put down"

"Both secrets and honesty were used as weapons throughout Farewell the Dragon. Farewell the Dragon brings relationships, sex, international intrigue, religion, politics, and a society in flux to create an examination of human nature that is at once blunt and nuanced."
Poet and author T.L. Cooper

"A Great Read. Barckmann is a terrific storyteller"
"This Week in America's" Ric Bratton

6. Mark Oulton on Goodreads

This book is a cross between a double murder whodunnit and a fascinating and sexually charged romp in China that can sometimes be found in tight expatriate communities (in this case both from within the group and amongst the few Chinese who could interact with them) ...  the book is a valuable link between post-revolutionary China and the present as seen by a foreign observer. It is also written with a great deal of humor.

With twists and turns and surprises unraveling, this book keeps you on edge from the beginning to the end. The author depicts China’s cities and sounds extremely well. He makes all the characters stand out in a unique way which makes them fit perfectly in their role. The text explores the cultural impact of Beijing’s culture on foreigners. I loved the wonderful thoughts shared on this tome. Author Barckmann is well-versed in China’s religion, world politics, and philosophical ideologies. This makes the book not just entertaining to readers but also eye-opening....This novel is a top candidate for pure escapist entertainment. Packed with mystery, thrill, and international history, it will undoubtedly take readers on an emotive and fascinating odyssey. For this reason, I give it 5 stars. The text does not allow historical events to override the fascinating plot but instead grants readers a developing story that takes center stage.

Virginia rated a book it was amazing
Farewell the Dragon by S. Lee Barckmann
Farewell the Dragon
by S. Lee Barckmann (Goodreads Author)

I recently finished FAREWELL THE DRAGON, the prequel to the SwiftPad Trilogy by Lee Barckmann. I’m giving it high marks. It is an ambitious first book.

The time and place of the book: 1986, China. The adventurer, Nate, displays an admittedly modest understanding of the vastness of China. Because of his ability to speak Chinese better than most foreigners, many doors open for him. He lives his dream of being an expatriate: teaching, selling software at the beginning of the boon, falling in and out of love (bedding many women from around the world before the aids virus cooled everyone’s appetite).

There’s lots of drinking on the rooftop bar of the Friendship Hotel where the characters in this murder mystery seem to be playing three- dimensional chess with global politics. The gang loves discussing politics. They are a loosely connected characters in time. These were the Reagan years. References to the classic book, 1984 by George Orwell and THE GOOD EARTH by Pearl S. Buck hit the mark.

Barckmann introduces us to dozens of characters: Molly, his shapely, flirtatious, and shallow girlfriend. Dexter, his red-haired look alike who was 10 years younger and one dimensional, his beautiful Chinese woman friend who was always identified by waving just the tops of her fingers. My favorite was the Chinese neighbor who Nate drank tea with for an hour each month and who Nate realized was a solid source of high-minded wisdom. All swirled by, the murder is solved, and Nate takes us on a whole other journey in a reflective letter to his father in the last chapter.

Perhaps that’s why the stories continue.
From "Eugene Scene” magazine...

The protagonist, a young red-haired American, discovers the bodies of two foreigners in a dorm room at a guest house, which leads to a plot of intrigue: Was it murder or a murder-suicide?  How did they die?  Who killed them?  Now the young American became a suspect. The plot unfolds through his interrogation by police and through flashbacks, and it has something to do with an ancient and mysterious stele, a stone tablet bearing an ancient Chinese script...many characters from various countries who all found themselves in Beijing at the time —  various Europeans, an Australian, American CIA, and others, mixing with various Chinese people,  all desperately seeking and sometimes finding work, love, sex, and the deeper meaning of life. For China watchers, Farewell the Dragon is an intellectual feast, and it delivers an emotional wallop...

More Reviews for “Farewell the Dragon” by Lee Barckmann


Jeffrey Kinkley

I found this book to be a good read. One of its attractions is all the odd, intriguing characters from the Chinese expat community in Beijing prior to "Tiananmen" (they're not academic researchers, either--an assortment of Russians, East Germans, Central Europeans, PLO, Mossad, Americans, you name it, and among their Chinese friends, a People's Liberation Army "General's daughter" and a blind erhu player). Advisory: they sleep around with each other relentlessly.
Another attraction is the book's very convincing overview of China in this age when it was beginning to take foreign capital, but before the economy, urban construction, and the destruction of old neighborhoods were set to go full-throttle berserk in the 1990s and after. All the plot threads come together in the end. It reads like a mystery set within a tale of personal exploration in a peculiarly welcoming, and yet rather mysterious foreign environment.

Great Murder Mystery, Great Read!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved the story with its background in the Chinese culture shown through the eyes of an American expatriate, Nathan Shute. I think that anyone who spent time on a college campus could relate to things that happen in this murder mystery. The overlapping intrigue of international spies, cultural treasures,and personal love affairs kept me totally involved. There are some books that you never want to end because you are enjoying them so much. This is one of those books!!!
Carl Warner
Farewell the Dragon definitely held my interest, keeping me awake at night. The murder mystery provides a good expat perspective on China during the period before much of the rampant economic expansion, as well as historical facts and lessons in Chinese culture. The protagonist is entangled in a mix of detective work, political intrigue, and sexual escapades. Highly recommended.
David G. Traeger
This was my "bus book" for a week in January. My constant companion for 3 hours a day amid the hustle and bustle of life on board a Max train and TriMet bus. The book held my attention and kept me quite happy while commuting. And it gave me a quote for my commonplace book: "Serene Hopelessness and tight quarters produce strict rules & nobody breaks the rules or even calls attention to them. Discontent is not allowed, especially discontent based in individualism; the appearance of unfairness must be smothered even if it not "gong ping", not a level playing field, not equal opportunity for everyone. You can not break out; it is the most important rule. You bear it. You mildly complain and listen to the mild complaints, but is repetitive and useless, just empty noise to no end."
Laura B. Raynolds
Farewell the Dragon is a wonderful postmodern work set in China in the 1980's, before the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. With a highly tuned ear for dialogue, Barckmann weaves many strands of different stories and histories into one murder mystery, rather like Thomas Pynchon's Crying of Lot 49. Like other postmodern works, Farewell the Dragon embodies ambiguity, complexity, density, and interconnectedness with references to many disciplines. Barckmann uses the coming-to-an-end of Old China along with events in the plot to enable the reader to experience a universal wistfulness and longing for that perfection in memory that is lost and will never come again. His work is a superb piece of fiction that deserves a wide readership. Bravo Barckmann!
J. Charles Kirby
Lee Barckmann has created a world that is inaccessible to most casual visitors to China. Because of his occupation as an English language teacher in the mid to late 80's ,the protagonist, Nathan Schuett is especially suited to understand the nuances of Chinese life. This story, however is about what Nathan does not know or should know but doesn't. This story is about China complicated by murder. Nathan finds himself in the middle of a detective story with misunderstood evidence and unexpected sex.I thought of the movies Chinatown and My Year of Living Dangerously.I can recommend this book
Dave from Oregon
Farewell the Dragon is a very enjoyable look at the Western expatriate community in China leading up to Tiananmen Square. I enjoyed the book as a prologue to China's post-Mao resurgence as well as an interesting set of the interplay between different groups in the expat community that are difficult for an American living in the US to imagine.

Patricia Brown writes:
This story brings chills down my spine! It is a gripping story of a double murder in Beijing and its story line is moving, intriguing and intense!
I find the investigation a very intriguing scene because you will have to guess and think carefully about the killer of the bodies that was found in an apartment by the lead, Nate! Nate is the male lead that provides interesting dynamic to the story. His ability to be clever and mischievous made the case a lot more interesting and a lot longer to solve. I believe though that this scene would have been made shorter to give more emphasis to the life that the he has lived. His life was the most interesting because he had multiple relationships with women, he sold software’s and taught English for a living and also had wonderful inputs about religion and politics. Moreover, I believe that because of the psychological and political impact of this book to the readers, I would have to say that is also educational apart from interesting.
I believe that anyone who loves thrilling books and murder case stories should read this book! It is indeed one of a kind.
Terry Crossman writes:
An engrossing read about a time 8 years before I arrived in Beijing. At times it was a bit slow and plodding and the time jumps and plethora of characters were a bit confusing at times, but the mystery and unsuspected surprises kept me going. I probably know many foreigners who lived in the pre-Tiananmen days in Beijing and I certainly do know many University teachers here and even did a post retirement stint as one myself. His portrayal of undercover missionaries and Taiwanese run joint ventures were so spot on. While I have never liked the drinking culture of expatriate life, I found the depiction of Friendship Hotel life fascinating especially as this has been my home city for over 25 years. I also love the authors appreciation of old culture and realistic portrayal of "drinking tea" with security folks. All in all a good read.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Moving on From The SwiftPad Takeover

See a recent reviews here!

Reader Views

Kirkus review of "The SwiftPad Takeover"

The SwiftPad Takeover was written in a pique against my former employer after I was laid off in 2014.  I wanted to expose my impression of the infighting, greed, and incompetence at the company to release the pent up anger and hostility I felt so I could put the experience behind me and move on.

I am better now.  I was able to focus on writing "the revenge story" and at the same time satirizing Portland, as well as other types of corporate IT cultures. I had worked as a consultant at old-style firms with IT departments that had top-down vertical management structures, as well as young social media companies with horizontal structures and The SwiftPad Takeover illustrates both types. The main characters of the novel were two men, childhood friends now in their early forties, who grew up in the coast range of western Oregon. They encounter a young woman who has an idea for social media Facebook-like software, (SwiftPad) and they join up with her to make a company, based in Portland Oregon. One of the men, Jim Hunt has spent most of his career with "Global Industrial Processors", (GIP) but has quit and has returned to work for the local Portland Power Company.

GIP is after "the business" with both the power company and SwiftPad, and we follow the corporate intrigue from the inside.  And, oh yeah - one more thing, as Columbo used to say - a Serial Killer is lurking among cast of characters, leaving bodies in inconvenient places.

The SwiftPad Takeover was written as a literary experiment, an attempt to stretch myself as a writer. I decided to create some rules for myself to follow as I wrote.  I had already written a novel seven years or so previously, and I wrote that with no rules at least at first.  By that I mean, I would sit down and imagine a scene create action and dialogue and see how it fit together later. This time I wanted to plan it and have a product at the end I would recognize as what I intended at the beginning. I made a list of requirements I would follow as I wrote the book, rather than, just writing and seeing where it goes.  I think that next time, I will follow my old method and just let the story flow where it will go. I think you get a more organic product that way.   But nevermind, this is what we have got.

My first novel Farewell the Dragon
Buy Farewell the Dragon
was written in first-person and I wanted to see what I sounded like in third person. I wanted to write about the culture of Portland Oregon.  As I said, I wanted to write a revenge novel against my former employer for laying me off before I was ready to retire.  And I wanted to write an homage to my former profession.  I lucked into the work as an IT roust-about in my mid-thirties and it worked out well.    It required a lot of persistence, a certain amount of analytical ability, and a talent for spotting and spouting bullshit.  I wanted to move on and begin something else, and writing a book about the way it was allowed me to put it all into perspective and the rear view mirror.

I really wrote SwiftPad for myself, not for a particular reader.  With so much 'situation' to write about, well, maybe the characters were short-changed a little.  Jim, Chubby, GG, Macy, Trek, (aka OSWL), Alice, (Jim’s Mom), Walt, (Chubby’s Dad) and others all have somewhat predictable characteristics that weaken the book.  But it is a murder mystery novel, and I know it works on that level because several people who have read it say they were guessing right up to the end as to who was the killer. I learn some new plotting tricks and the futuristic satire of social media technology is pretty clever I think, if a bit goofy.  So it is what it is. Now that that is done, I want to move to the next project.

I am about to take off on a long trip, taking the train from Saigon to St. Petersburg, stopping a lot along the way, then on to Hamburg and then home.  I have a half-assed plan to write a sequel and have an idea that will develop the characters further - Chubby in particular, focusing on the recent election and some nastiness that will require Chubby and Jim’s girl friend Macy to confront the source of the attack on America’s Democracy.  It is still vague, but I am thinking the trip might flesh out the story.  We’ll see.

So really, I see The SwiftPad Takeover as a prequel to the real story, the coming, as yet unwritten real story.   

Check out the sequel here!