Scar Vegas, written by Tom Paine, is a book compiled of 10 unusual short stories that gesture toward a deeper understanding of reality. Almost all the stories can be viewed as variations on the theme of how the `powerful' (different perspective of power within each individual character) oppress the weak and while doing this, Tom Paine often relates to the uneasy moments when two cultures collide.
These `themes' are apparent in "General Markman's Last Stand," about a retiring Marine commander stealing a bra from the local Post Exchange. In the story the general's fetish, I feel, is paradoxically made to stand for his humanity, whereas those who ridicule his weakness come off as brutal. This situation may have been an exaggerated form relating to the parts of the American culture that are unable to accept different points of view or lifestyles.
Will You Say Something, Monsieur Eliot? is about a wealthy American whose yacht is wrecked in a storm during a single-handed sail. After drifting with part of his mast for days, he is picked up by a boat full of Haitians whose sails have been destroyed by the storm. They are ecstatic to learn that Eliot is a rich American because they are naïvely certain that with him aboard they will all be rescued under orders from the president of the United States. But when a helicopter finally arrives, the Americans only take Eliot away and the Haitians are left to go on drifting, fate unknown. Showing us how people have the conception that Americans are powerful.
"The Hotel on Monkey Forest Road," is about two best friends, Andrew and Sherm who are assigned to build a hotel complex on Bali. After spending some time in Bali with his new stewardess girlfriend, Andrew goes "local" and insists on appeasing the area's spirits before construction begins, much to the detriment of the project. Andrew even goes as far to be the local shaman's apprentice, and abandoning his new girlfriend. At the end of this story, the question is left open about whose outlook is correct; the construction company or the local traditions and spirits. A common problem confronting different cultures, when they are forced to interact.
The story named after the book's title, Scar Vegas, really makes the understanding of reality apparent. Johnny has just been released from prison in Galveston, Texas. He heads for Las Vegas to visit his sister, Fruit, who is about to get married to a football player. Although she's not married yet, Fruit is running around a Vegas casino in her wedding dress, after trying to defend herself against a drunken man hitting on her, the casino manager gives her, Johnny and Breezy (Fruits fiancé) one of the best suites in the casino for their inconveniences. The story, narrated by Johnny (the brother), turns strange when Breezy's teammates show up; Johnny talks to a team member about life and how unlucky he finds himself; contrary to the players opinion.
The team ends up beating up...