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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous Paperback – 1 September 2020
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A stunning, beautiful book... His writing is phenomenal... Simply brilliant. ― BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review
This is some of the most moving writing I’ve read… The tenderness of the prose feels like a triumph against a world hellbent on embittering the tenderhearted… the truths arrived at in this book are valuable precisely because they are steeped in feeling. ― New York Times
Vuong is surely a literary descendant of the author of Leaves of Grass. Emerging from the most marginalized circumstances, he has produced a lyrical work of self-discovery that’s shockingly intimate and insistently universal… Not so much briefly gorgeous as permanently stunning. -- Ron Charles ― Washington Post
Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous confirms him as a master of inventive language that has its roots in the spoken word but reaches shimmering heights of lyricism, too. -- Joseph O'Connor ― Sunday Independent *Books of the Year*
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- Item Weight : 181 g
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1529110688
- ISBN-13 : 978-1529110685
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
- Publisher : Vintage (1 September 2020)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #5,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Top reviews from India
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Getting back to what the book is about it’s about this person called Little Dog. And I think this book is semi-autobiographical in the sense that it’s not really a novel, but he is telling a story about his own life narrated through the eyes of Little Dog. It’s about so many things. It’s about the Vietnamese immigrant experience. It’s about post-traumatic stress disorder faced by the victims of the war. It’s about a son’s love for his mother and a mother’s love for her son.
It’s also about what it’s like to be a gay man in America and to be in love with another man who doesn’t admit that he’s gay. He tries to talk about these things in a very matter of fact way but they just drip with emotion. I don’t think that a small wrap up post like this can do this book justice, so I may do another post in which I do a proper review of this book. But it’s definitely worth reading. You must read it, and if you can listen to it on audiobook you’ll enjoy it even more.
I don't get it. This is the second disappointment of a lauded writer this month and I feel like I know better now to listen to the crowd but not get influenced. My sanity is in my known unknown. My conviction in judging a million copies old book which is worshipped by so many is in being critical so that I may discover the underrated and not be put in a box with other's, just because.
When you type on the internet,
why didn't you like Ocean Vuong, search comes up - Permanently Stunning. To which I retort- Very much temporarily.
Funny, tender and stunning- it's just cold or really sunny.
Lyrical- Ok. If you say so.
Most Anticipated- and here we are I say
My point is not dissecting Ocean Vuong. He is definitely different. But did he make me feel different about his work than my peers?
YES & NO
Yes, I was intrigued to read him and know about him. Media can't seem to have enough of him. And I am a product of media somewhere , like most of us these days.
And No, I was not enchanted by his writing. In most parts. I felt he unnecessarily wrote so many paragraphs which just made the whole book sound disjointed. An attempt at a good draft at most. Sure it has some great quotes. I mean really. That's what makes the poet shine. But is the book quotable as a whole? NOPE.
Also I don't know about you, but some parts felt as if I have listened or read them, just in a different manner. So that dampened my spirits. Some pages I dragged myself to see hard what was missing. Why was I not enjoying it as much as the one quote 20 pages back. Every 4 pages, there is a paragraph which made me sad or happy, intensely. But that's it.
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
Word for missing someone and remembering them is the same: nhớ. Sometimes, when you ask me over the phone, Có nhớ mẹ không? I flinch, thinking you meant, Do you remember me?I miss you more than I remember you.
Top reviews from other countries
Sure, I read for pleasure and to keep at bay anxieties and worries that otherwise occupy my mind (that’s what my romance/chick-lit stacks are for) but my true love for the written word came from discovering the beauty of depth and emotion that’s hidden within the lyrical prose of select writers.
To say that the writing in this book is gorgeous would be an understatement. There is one measure I use to determine if I find a particular writer/book worth of high praise and that’s if it makes me jealous. And boy am I jealous of Vuong’s ability to write so rawly that it almost bruises you.
Of the top of my head, I have a few favorites when it comes to formidable, evocative but also heartbreaking writing, Yiyun Li, Haruki Murakami, Madeline Miller to name a few. Today I’ve just added Ocean Vuong to the list.
I’ve forgotten how much I love to stare at a phrase and reread it in my head until it involuntarily imprints itself in my memory . I tend to read a lot of “feel good, easy to digest” books with simple writing, for the obvious fact that I won’t dwell on them, I won’t torture myself with existential questions and most importantly I can file them away as soon as I’m done. There will be no extra burden on my mind, I won’t obsess for days questioning life, meaning, history, etc.
But sometimes I want to invite that kind of reaction, I want to feel, I wanna be awed and lured in by gorgeous words that cut deep and then I wanna be healed of their bruising force, by extending my own understanding and contemplation to their meaning and purpose.
I did all that with this book. And I loved every second of it.
I realise this sounds more like a diary entry than a review but I feel like I don’t need to talk about plot, characters, or any of the usual suspects because this book inspires so much more than a clinical analysis. So pick it up and enjoy it, don’t give it that much thought.
And to be honest, that’s what this book is: it contains everything. Open it and turn it around and around, for in it is the whole world.
I haven’t read a book I immediately want to restart in decades. Now this.
I have to recover.
Vuong has somehow produced a book as mind blowing as Night Sky With Exit Wounds, his most recent work of poetry.
Okay. Let me write some semblance of a review of content.
If you’re looking for plot, look elsewhere. Vuong has chosen, loosely, the epistolary form for his first novel. The book is one long letter to his mother. To be more accurate, it is a REWRITTEN letter to his mother, as Vuong tells us that previous drafts failed.
But in that letter is everything. It traces the speaker’s life (genre becomes useless here...the speaker is Ocean Vuong, but he’s not claiming that this is an autobiography. But I think Vuong would agree that everything we write, say, do, and feel is an autobiography) from childhood, to first love and sexual awakening to adulthood and loss.
That’s really it.
But there are more beautiful, elegant, soul crushingly fresh lines in this book than in 20 of greater length.
This has moved immediately into my all time top ten.
I can’t provide quotes because I’d have to rewrite the whole book.
The hype is not hype. It’s journalism.