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Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the…

by Phuc Tran

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1429159,791 (3.94)1
"For anyone who has ever felt like they don't belong, Sigh, Gone shares an irreverent, funny, and moving tale of displacement and assimilation woven together with poignant themes from beloved works of classic literature. In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Phuc Tran immigrates to America along with his family. By sheer chance they land in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a small town where the Trans struggle to assimilate into their new life. In this coming-of-age memoir told through the themes of great books such as The Metamorphosis, The Scarlett Letter, The Iliad, and more, Tran navigates the push and pull of finding and accepting himself despite the challenges of immigration, feelings of isolation, teenage rebellion, and assimilation, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations set by his immigrant parents. Appealing to fans of coming-of-age memoirs such as Fresh Off the Boat, Running with Scissors, or tales of assimilation like Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Displaced and The Refugees, Sigh, Gone explores one man's bewildering experiences of abuse, racism, and tragedy and reveals redemption and connection in books and punk rock. Against the hairspray-and-synthesizer backdrop of the '80s, he finds solace and kinship in the wisdom of classic literature, and in the subculture of punk rock, he finds affirmation and echoes of his disaffection. In his journey for self-discovery Tran ultimately finds refuge and inspiration in the art that shapes--and ultimately saves--him"… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
SIGH, GONE: A MISFIT’S MEMOIR OF GREAT BOOKS, PUNK ROCK, AND THE FIGHT TO FIT IN by Phuc Tran.
This title is a selection of Maine Public’s ALL BOOKS CONSIDERED BOOK CLUB, to be
discussed in May, 2022.
“In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Phuc Tran and his family immigrated to America, landing in small-town Pennsylvania.”
“In this coming-of-age memoir told through the themes of great books, Tran navigates the push and pull of finding and accepting himself despite the challenges of immigration, feelings of isolation, teenage rebellion, and assimilation, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations of his parents.” (book jacket)
My reflections.
I liked this book very much. It is so personal and so smart - everyone will recognize the challenges and angst and emotions and uncertainties of developing and maturing and discovering (or trying to discover) our own personality. (I only wish I was as smart as Phuc.)
I liked the ‘combination words’ Phuc’s parents used.
“My mother Vietnamesed at me.”
“My father glared at Lou and me, sensing that nincompoopery was afoot.” (my favorite)
I liked Phuc’s comments about ghosts (on page 86) Ghosts are “a crucial narrative element.”
“Ghosts create meaning and impetus”
“When ghosts show up in literature or film, they expedite or pivot the story.”
I never thought of ghosts in that way. Phuc is extremely perceptive.

I began sensing a distinct literary theme (around p. 92). Phuc seemed to think of literature
as life-defining after watching A CHRISTMAS CAROL on TV. “
We live in the Past, the Present and the Future.” “The Past pulled us and the Future pushed us.
The tension of tenses.” (One of my favorite sentences!)

I like all of Phuc’s literary examples: the works of C. G. Jung, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, MADAME BOVARY, Comics, porn magazines, THE HAPPY HOOKER, PYGMALION, Kafka’s METAMORPHOSIS, THE STRANGER, THE ILIAD, works by Oscar Wilde, Plato and Malcolm X.

Phuc’s thoughts on authenticity - “What part of me was the real me and what was the facade?”

I thoroughly enjoyed the writing in this book - the introspections, the emotions.
I quite liked the Acknowledgements. They made me cry. ***** ( )
  diana.hauser | May 14, 2022 |
A well-formed book. I mean that in the best and five (maybe 4.8) star way possible. Phuc Tran's words and ideas just came through so clearly and in perfect rhythm. It gave me flashbacks to my own childhood, since I was the only Asian attending my grade level in grade school ... and eventually befriending some Vietnamese classmates in middle school.

And Phuc makes me want to go back and read "the classics". Nowadays, I tend to read newer or authored by a person of color books. Could my reading acumen use some more weight?

I do wonder what happened to his crew and Lou, his brother.




( )
  wellington299 | Feb 19, 2022 |
This memoir should be given to every high school student (16+). Everyone should read this book and will find themselves in it, whether they are an immigrant or a person who has ever encountered an immigrant (i.e. everyone), whether they were cool or not in high school (Phuc managed to be both). It extolls the transformative magic of libraries and good teachers, explains systemic racism as something that is not just someone else's problem, illustrates how great literature applies to one's own life, models a healthy teen romantic relationship without shrinking from describing an unfortunate episode.

Spoiler alert: best of all, kids (and all of us) need to see that you can be a dedicated punk with abusive parents and grow up to be a Latin teacher who is also a tattoo artist and a loving husband and father. What an amazing person and amazing book. ( )
  Amniot | Feb 14, 2022 |
This is a very engaging coming-of-age memoir about life as the child of Vietnamese refugees in small-town America in the 1980s and early 1990s. Phuc Tran and his parents came to the US after the fall of Saigon and had to start over from nothing in the middle of a mostly white community whose response to the Tran family ran the gamut from patronising to indifference to outright hostile racism. The young Tran sought refuge in reading and in punk music, particularly as his relationship with his parents grew ever more fraught—part common-or-garden teen vs parents angst, part the tension between two generations increasingly separated by linguistic differences, part the fallout of his parents' clearly undealt-with trauma from their wartime experiences. (There's one scene in which Tran's father has a rage-fuelled outburst which is viscerally upsetting to read about.)

Tran mostly writes from the perspective first of his child and then of his teenage self, with little sense of reflection or insight beyond what an angry teen is capable of. That's what stops this very good biography from being a truly great one, because while Tran is clearly aware of the complex issues of assimilation and belonging that his story raises, he avoids engaging with them as directly as he could. A more truly punk memoir might have met the myth of the American Dream more head on. Still, a well-observed memoir with many poignant and well-observed moments. ( )
  siriaeve | Oct 30, 2021 |
Phuc Tran is one of the many thousands evacuated from Saigon in April 1975, ending up in Carlisle, PA, which he describes as "Poorly Read. Very White. Collar Blue." Fitting in at school is a challenge for all but the most popular; a strange name, his race, his English, being poor, made him a natural target. Yet, Phuc maintains a sense of humor about his experiences and his strides to integrate. He is obviously smart, but soon tires of the archetypical stereotype, and joins the misfits, as a skateboarder, punk rocker where shabby clothes and black t-shirts featuring bands were accepted. Much to the delight of his English teacher and classmates (begrudgingly), Tran becomes a voracious reader, and names his chapters after famous 'must read' books, using the plots to describe various aspect of his school years. A gifted writer; recommended. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Phuc Tranprimary authorall editionscalculated
Yee, Henry SeneCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"For anyone who has ever felt like they don't belong, Sigh, Gone shares an irreverent, funny, and moving tale of displacement and assimilation woven together with poignant themes from beloved works of classic literature. In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Phuc Tran immigrates to America along with his family. By sheer chance they land in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a small town where the Trans struggle to assimilate into their new life. In this coming-of-age memoir told through the themes of great books such as The Metamorphosis, The Scarlett Letter, The Iliad, and more, Tran navigates the push and pull of finding and accepting himself despite the challenges of immigration, feelings of isolation, teenage rebellion, and assimilation, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations set by his immigrant parents. Appealing to fans of coming-of-age memoirs such as Fresh Off the Boat, Running with Scissors, or tales of assimilation like Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Displaced and The Refugees, Sigh, Gone explores one man's bewildering experiences of abuse, racism, and tragedy and reveals redemption and connection in books and punk rock. Against the hairspray-and-synthesizer backdrop of the '80s, he finds solace and kinship in the wisdom of classic literature, and in the subculture of punk rock, he finds affirmation and echoes of his disaffection. In his journey for self-discovery Tran ultimately finds refuge and inspiration in the art that shapes--and ultimately saves--him"

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