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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous (original 2019; edition 2019)
by Ocean Vuong
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (2019)
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I’m not always a fan of books that change times in a life all the time. But the shippers here work as the author styles the story as a letter that rambles. He has some tough things to describe. Very well written. ( )
Coming out after waking up in Vietnam and trying to explain all of it to your illiterate mother who runs a nail salon. Culture shock and idiomatic language conspire to confuse the narrator and his family. Despite all odds, the stories get told and our world expands. What passes for a realistic tale is ennobled by mythic devotion. The reader is transformed by the beautiful and the damned.
CW: I am particularly sensitive to animal suffering so one short description at about the 17% mark had me reeling. Here it is -
Well that was quite a beautifully written but often confusing novel.
At times I was stunned by the delicate and lyrical writing and at other times I thought it almost tipped over into purple prose, but in my opinion, the writing absolutely interfered with the flow of the story itself. It's like the story was a braided river, slipping this way and that, but mostly going in one direction so that you could sort of hold on to the main thread of what was happening. Little Dog was a wonderful narrator with such a raw honesty, however, I felt like I never got a chance to connect because the story veered away time and time again. That being said, it was largely a wonderful reading experience and I can see why it has such positive reviews.
1 star solely for the amazing writing.
"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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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
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