Happy three year anniversary to me and this blog! On this day in 2016, my life was in such a season of change and uncertainty, books were often my only constant. They helped me escape when I needed it, build connections, they taught me things, and brought great joy. I love books for many reasons (duh) but particularly thinking about them as I write this, on this day, I’m thankful. Everyone should read, at least some. And speaking of reading, let’s get to Vuong and On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.
In all honestly, I’m at a loss. I don’t know where to start or how to articulate my feelings for this one. Vuong has left me both dazed and introspective, a potentially dangerous combination. But it’s a stunning work and it deserves the effort this post will take so I promise to do my best.
The short summery: this is a letter written by a young man to his mother, who cannot read it because she does not speak English.
The long summery: ‘Little Dog’ lives in Connecticut with his mother, who suffers from PTSD brought on by the Vietnam War and currently works at a nail salon. His Grandmother also lives with them, but his abusive father has not for many years. Turns out the man he thought was his grandfather isn’t and he discovers he’s gay. He couldn’t speak English for a portion of his childhood and some people are racist jerks. It’s hard to grow up in general, but under these circumstances it’s devastating.
In the midst of these life experiences, this is primarily a story of language. About how language defines us, who we are and how we relate to others.
But it is not just language. It also includes things like immigration, culture, family, drugs, education, love, first loves, power, money, and death. It’s intense. It’s the American dream ripped to shreds and stitched back together as best as a family can do.
It wasn’t Little Life levels of intense, but there were still portions that were hard to read. Not Girl With Dragon Tattoo difficult, cluttered with names that have 15 letters and no vowels. Instead it’s he gets hit by his mom and opioids ruin lives hard to read. But it’s worth it. Lord, it is definitely worth it.
I’m still not sure if it’s totally autobiographical for Vuong, or partially, but it definitely doesn’t read like fiction. Which is part of what made it so hard. But also part of what made it so beautiful. It was stunningly beautiful writing, and it felt so personal.
Plot wise, it left something to be desired at the end. But the writing, story telling, and the realness of this life’s story were so accomplished and compelling I barely noticed. The only reason I wouldn’t recommend Vuong’s work is because of the triggers. But if you can handle some of the intenseness and be ok then you should definitely read this.
P.S. Summer is the best. I’ve been to the beach and the fair and the Old Globe and the movies. And I’ve been reading like I’m possessed which is great. Except now I need to finish Stranger Things. #priorities Also, did y’all know Ansel Elgort makes music? I heard ‘Supernova’ early last year, liked it, put it on a playlist then kinda forgot it was like, him. And I’ve been listening to his stuff lately and I’m like omg love. I’ve also beeb listening to A LOT of A Flock of Seagulls so make of that what you will.