the next good book

On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous

By Ocean Vuong


242 pages

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong What’s it about? Their is no mistaking that Ocean Vuong is a gifted poet.  This is his first novel.  The book is written in the form of a letter- from a son to his mother.  It explores the complicated relationship between “little dog” and his Vietnamese mother and grandmother. This story is about being heard in a world that does not want to acknowledge you.  It is about the power of endurance. What did it make me think about? How war changes not just the generation that lives through it, but generations to come. Should I read it? This was an uneven book for me.  The writing is poetic and beautiful but the story is told in different rhythms.  That may be just what Ocean Vuong was going for but it made for a different reading experience.  At times the sheer sadness of this story made it hard to read.  Some might be bothered by the graphic gay love story.  I myself found this relationship integral to the story…  I would recommend this coming of age story to anyone who likes a poetic novel. Quote- “There’s a word Trevor once told me about, one he learned from Buford, who served in the Navy in Hawaii during the Korean War: kipuka. The piece of land that’s spared after a lava flow runs down the slope of a hill- an island formed from what survives the smallest apocalypse. Before the lava descended, scorching the moss along the hill, that piece of land was insignificant, just another scrap in an endless mass of green. Only by enduring does it earn its name. Lying on the mat with you, I cannot help but want us to be our own kipuka, our own aftermath, visible. But I know better.”

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