After publishing half a dozen poetry books, Cyril Wong must have grown bored and decided to try his hand at writing short stories instead. Let Me Tell You Something About That Night is the result.
I must confess that when someone described the book to me as a collection of "modern-day fairy tales", I was a little skeptical that this book was going to be worth reading. Happily, I overcame that initial skepticism enough to pick up the book at Kinokuniya.
I'm about halfway through the book now, and quite enjoying it. Gerrie Lim has a little blurb on it which goes: "Cyril Wong is proving himself to be a prose stylist of a calibre that threatens to outdo his poetry, with words so poignant and heartfelt, and a narrative drive that's often direct and bold yet breathtaking in its fragile beauty." I think that those words sum the book up pretty well.
Cyril Wong is writing fairy tales, but these are not fairy tales for children (maybe for young adults and older). The stories do not quite end with a "happily ever after" and the characters are much more complex than the usual handsome prince or big bad wolf. A subtle gay theme runs through several stories, and that will put off the Thio Su Miens and the like-minded, but the stories themselves are not sexually explicit.
Several of these fairy tales are set in a recognisably modern, and even Singaporean, context. For example, one story is about a condominium security guard on night duty. Using his CCTV cameras, he spies on two women who have entered into the lift, only to discover that they are not quite human. In another story, a Malay schoolboy discovers that he has the ability to see how each person will eventually die.
Let Me Tell Something About That Night is something fresh and different. It's a welcome new addition into the existing body of Singapore literature. Do yourself a favour, go and get the book.