Thursday, 10 October 2013

Boey's Back

Something told me I shouldn't be reviewing this book, even as I thought, "Well, why not? I was honest about the first."

Yes, you can believe that

It's the first time this has happened to me, so I'm not sure if being blurbed in a previous book by the same author disqualifies me from reviewing his future book(s).

Most would say it does. If I like the latest book, it would look like I'm trying to help him sell it; if I don't I might sound 'inconsistent'.

By now, he's pretty much a celebrity. He doesn't really need a lot of help, not like when he published his first book. What I want to see now, more than his next book, is what he's going to do with his celebrity.

Boey's back

first published in The Malay Mail Online, 10 October 2013

I had waited weeks for this to arrive — and now it's here.

I turned a page. Hmm.

I turned another page. This is funny.

And another. Ha ha.

And another. Whoa.

And another. How did he get away with that?

And ... another. Oh my G*d.

I stopped myself from planting my oily face onto the page.

If I thought his hijinks in the first book were outrageous, the ones in this follow-up are more so.

Return of the kid
About a year has passed since Boey Cheeming first released his autobiographical compilation of comics When I Was A Kid — and his personality — upon an unsuspecting Malaysian public.

In the wake of the unexpected success of this book comes When I Was A Kid 2. The ending of his previous book suggested that the next one would be a sequel that explores his college years and adult life in the US. Instead, we get another collection of his childhood stories, an add-on to the first book.

Fans of his work will welcome this latest collection. We can expect the same style of art and storytelling, but the stories all look new. The tone, however, appears more sombre as the author leans more towards tugging our heartstrings instead of tickling our funny bones.

We smile, laugh, cringe, and shudder in horror at his childhood antics and, by proxy, at our own. While we still get some of a kid's wide-eyed wonder at the strange and new around him, like the time the author "touched a rainbow", we also see that the cracks around that innocent worldview are starting to show. In this book, "The Kid" that is Boey is beginning to grow up.

His remembrances of his grandmother brought me back to my own, as did his wonder over a simple bicycle ride with his dad, a prominent figure in this collection. I found his thoughts on toys profound and his memories of the slides at his childhood playground poignant. I think there's also some criticism about how kids these days are spoiled...

...and damn spoiled some of them are, too...

...which I'm hard-pressed to disagree with.

Hazy memories
However, the collection has some amusing moments to keep it from getting too maudlin; this is Boey we're talking about.

So I turn a page. I used to play with fire, too. Don't tell anyone.

And another. Ew. Good thing I didn't see anything like that.

And another. Yeah, I hated maths and physics.

And another. Crank-calling people? Duuude.


When one revisits the past, some things appear hazy. In WIWAK 1 some of the recollections were so outrageous you wonder if Boey made it up or remembered it wrong.

This time, we have notes from his parents at the end of the book that contain clarifications on some chapters such as "Terrarium" (" and dad NEVER eat all these bird in wine.") and comments ("ADD & SUBTRACT - Not so interesting" and "Onion - Already on your face book [sic] last month").

Of course, she's also in the "testimonials"...

Boey's mom sets something straight

Still, this doesn't dent the impact this book has on one's own memories. While the notes were a nice touch, making this book feel more like a family affair, it could've benefitted from some editing.

I said some things about the previous book, much of which still stands. But I'm not sure if I find Boey's growing-up years "mundane" anymore.

07/10/2014  Forgot that I got pimped a few months back but couldn't find the online version. One thing: I did say I like it, but it was MPH Distributors (a sister company) who agreed to ship the book around Malaysia and Singapore if he self-published.

A couple of years later, there are also T-shirts, calendars and - yes - notebooks, with caricatures of him instead of cats. Plus, livery on an airplane. And his books are still selling. Nobody expected just how big Boey would become, not even me.

Good thing he didn't quit.

When I Was A Kid 2
Boey Cheeming
199 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9849786-1-8


  1. Aw, such a touching write-up! He'd be so happy to read this. I haven't received my copy yet, though.

    1. Thanks! Did he promise to mail you a copy or has it yet to arrive in bookstores there?

      Anyway, the rock star hasn't been feeling well and he's still on tour. He'll need a long break after this.


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