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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

de Ocean Vuong

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MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
2,074876,260 (3.93)104
"On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family's history that began before he was born -- a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam -- and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity."--… (més)
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» Mira també 104 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 87 (següent | mostra-les totes)
That’s it. I’m not reading overhyped books anymore. ( )
  tonimeter | May 13, 2022 |
When does a war end? When can I say your name and have it mean only your name and not what you left behind?

A beautiful, intimate look at lives lived despite violence. So intimate that I felt intrusive many times just reading it. Memory is so fickle, and yet so potentially destructive. Memory is also, as what the narrator called it, a second chance, one which we have the power to control, if only for ourselves, if only in our minds.

How rarely we are encouraged to pause and reflect on what has happened to us. How scarcely we are given space to check ourselves for damages as the storm continues on. Maybe I should take heed and take stock of my life while in this enforced pause. ( )
  kahell | May 4, 2022 |
Spectacular ( )
  whatmeworry | Apr 9, 2022 |
The author is a renowned poet. He writes this memoir/novel as if he was writing poetry, instilling tons and tons of metaphors to replace narration or character explication. Reading the metaphors is kind of like playing a guessing game. I have lines and lines of notes on what I think each metaphor meant. It's fun for the first...150 pages. It got annoying after that :P

The novel is broken into 3 parts: Part 1 deals with the author's childhood and the life of his mother and maternal grandmother as refugees from Vietnam. Both his mother and grandmother have some mental illness issues. The author went through physical abuse by his mother. The timeline in this part jumps all over the place. Part 2 deals with the author's budding romance in high school. Part 3 deals with the death of this boyfriend (ex-boyfriend by the time, I think) due to overdose, and the subsequent death of the author's maternal grandmother.

There are bits and pieces of the novel that I like and admire. His relationship with his mother and grandmother was interesting, because the two caregivers loved him and they had good times, even though sometimes things got really crazy and the author experienced physical abuse. Reading about how a refugee family sustained themselves in poverty and how a second generation Vietnamese immigrant acculturated at his American school was thought-provoking. But there are parts I really wish weren't there. I wish he didn't present this entire novel as if he was talking to his mother and writing the book for his mother to read. In part 2 and part 3 when he's hanging out with his boyfriend, he rarely thinks of his mother, and sometimes when he tries to "talk to" his mother in the middle of all the boyfriend storyline, the monologue appears extremely forced and awkward. Actually, another way I would have liked this novel better is if the entire book concerned itself less with his love life and and really honed in on his relationship with his mother. My favorite quote in the book, which I think sums up what the author wants to do with this novel, is this: " I was no heavier than the words in my name. And like a word, I hold no weight in this world yet still carry my own life. And I throw it ahead of me until what I left behind becomes exactly what I'm running toward -- like I'm part of a family." He wanted his "word" (this novel) to have the effect of leaving his troubled family history behind him, yet running toward constructing a deeper relationship with his family. I feel the book needs to focus even more on his relationship with his family members, in order to accomplish that.

And I wish the author toned it down on the monkey brain vignette. I think he just put it in there for shock value; I doubt his grandmother really witnessed the scene. Eating monkey brain from live monkeys is a shameful part of southeastern Asian culture, but it is still part of their culture and had existed for hundred of years. I wish it was presented with a little more sensitivity to cultural differences. And I hated the last vignette, in which the author imagined himself running with a whole bunch of different animals (and imagining himself and his people as similar to these animals) into the wild. Too cliche.

One particularly hilarious detail for me was how the author's mother thought Tiger Wood's mother was from Taiwan. (Wood's mother is actually from Thailand.) As a Taiwanese, I get this misunderstanding a lot from American friends. But I'm a bit surprised that even Vietnamese people get the two countries mixed up. (Come to think of it, it didn't sound quite authentic. In the 1990s, when the author was a child and heard this Tiger Woods remark from his mother, Taiwan had a strong economy and employed a large population of Vietnamese women as domestic workers. Surely Vietnamese adults at the time would hear about Taiwan enough to be able to differentiate it from Thailand?) ( )
  CathyChou | Mar 11, 2022 |
wow. ( )
  GarzaDream | Mar 5, 2022 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 87 (següent | mostra-les totes)
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Vuong, Oceanautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Capelle, MargueriteTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Jonkers, JohannesTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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But let me see if—using these words as a little plot of
land and my life as a cornerstone—
I can build you a center.
—Qiu Miaojin
I want to tell you the truth, and already I have told you about the wide rivers.
—Joan Didion
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For my mother
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Let me begin again.
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You once told me that the human eye is god's loneliest creation. How so much of the world passes through the pupil and still it holds nothing. The eye, alone in its socket, doesn't even know there's another one, just like it, an inch away, just as hungry, as empty.
...the most useful thing one can do with empty hands is hold on. (p.76)
They say nothing lasts forever but they're just scared it will last longer than they can love it. (p.176)
From the wind, I learned a syntax for forwardness, how to move through obstacles by wrapping myself around them. (p.185)
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"On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family's history that began before he was born -- a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam -- and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity."--

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