On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Ocean Vuong
Nov 19, 2021

Little Dog knows his mother cannot read, her education put to an abrupt end after the destruction of her schoolhouse by a napalm raid in her native Vietnam. So when he addresses this letter to his mother, he speaks not only to her but also to himself, straining to break free of his past. The words and phrases he knows his mother cannot understand spill out like secrets, truth, or something that lies somewhere in between. He writes of the nail salon where brutal, back-breaking work becomes a way of life for immigrants, of bruises that somehow mean more than purplish splotches radiating pain, of the tobacco farm where he first learned the ever-lovely sharpness of first love. But most of all, he writes of the violence and brutality that is family, survival, and memory.

Otherworldly. This is the only way I can think to properly describe this book. The prose was more poetry than anything, brutally honest and tragically evocative. The author’s words left me gasping for breath, suffocating in their beauty and rawness. Yet, at the same time, I found comfort in the poignancy and gentleness with which the author delivered deep-rooted, aching heartbreak. All in all, one of the best books I have come across this year. Please, please read this.

Written by
Lisa J.

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