Taiwan Tattoo by Brian M. Day (ThingsAsian Press)

Jack, a university-educated Canadian slacker with an overly protective and enabling older sister, finds himself fired by his brother-in-law from a job he hates. With no plans for his future, on a whim he takes a job in Taiwan teaching English.

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His story is quite similar to a satirical comic strip written in Japan, Charisma Man. This comic pillories the young Western men who come to Japan to teach English and find that their new stature is elevated far above the one they enjoyed in their home countries. At home, they're nothing special but in a foreign country they find that local women want to date them, their pay is usually good so they have money to spend, their rooms or apartments are subsidized so they pay low rent or no rent. All of this gives them a false sense of being someone with clout.

Jack is like many of these Charisma Men, fleeing ordinary life, thinking that teaching English in a foreign country will be a breeze and that success will be had without any effort. But as the days turn into months, Jack begins to question himself about the meaning of success. He had rushed into this job only because he did not respect his brother-in-law who gave him a job at his company only because Jack's sister insisted upon it. Jack who has never left his home country of Canada, Jack who has no knowledge of Taiwan and cannot speak Chinese, Jack who is in dire need of growing up! Jack at first is not a very likable character.

But as the story develops, we see Jack begin to gradually change. We see him overcoming his failures. We see his desire to do things better. Suddenly he wants not only to be a better teacher but to be a better person. We see him overcoming many of his insecurities, and we may even begin to like Jack and root for him.

This story is written by a man who also left Canada and went to Taiwan to teach English for a year. He found himself living in that country for the next nine. I am sure the author has incorporated many of his own experiences into the life of Jack and his descriptions of Taiwan and of the classes make you feel as if you are there as well. As to the title of the book itself? A reference to scars achieved from having an accident on a scooter in the notoriously dangerous traffic. This novel is entertaining as well as educational for any of those readers who might considering teaching English in Asia. ~by Ernie Hoyt