Ron Charles's Reviews > On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
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it was amazing

May 31 marks the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth, and the best present we could possibly receive is Ocean Vuong’s debut novel, “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.” The connection between the Good Gray Poet and this young Vietnamese immigrant may seem tenuous, but with his radical approach to form and his daring mix of personal reflection, historical recollection and sexual exploration, 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.

The fact that we can hear Vuong’s voice today in America stems from a function of tragedy and serendipity. As Vuong explains in his 2016 poetry collection, “Night Sky With Exit Wounds,” his grandfather was a U.S. soldier who found a farm girl in Vietnam. “Thus my mother exists,” he writes. “Thus I exist. Thus no bombs = no family = no me.”

That willingness to solve the equation of his own existence, no matter what its components, is a. . . .

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Reading Progress

May 13, 2019 – Started Reading
May 13, 2019 – Shelved
May 28, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Christine (new) - added it

Christine I just pre-ordered this because of your review!

message 2: by SEY (new) - added it

SEY Wow! Thanks Ron!

message 3: by Joan (new) - added it

Joan I just read your Post review and I was sorry it was so short. It was great. And I can't wait to read Vuong. Thank you.

Jenny (Reading Envy) The audio! I could hardly get through it in print!

Andrew Howdle Interesting review. Probably the best book to remember Whitman, however, is "Lovejets" (2019) edited Raymond Luczak: it is a much better celebration.

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