Seemita's Reviews > On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
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it was amazing
bookshelves: america, culture, epislotary, family, immigration, lgbt, psychology, monologue, debut, singing_words, sharp_sword, favorites, me, vietnam
Recommended to Seemita by: Twitter
Recommended for: Everyone

Memory.

A twig to hang our old ages on, a current to charge our failed youth from; a blanket to hush our demons from the black, a spring to nourish our wounded dreams underneath. A whole. A hollow. And everything suspended in between is memory.
'Ma. You once told me that memory is a choice. But if you were god, you’d know it’s a flood.'
And like a flood, Little Dog untethers me from my world and takes me to his’, where he writes a letter and recounts his life of 28 odd years to his Ma, who is illiterate. Does the secrecy of our identity embolden us to admit truths that we would otherwise have fought tooth and nail to negate? Perhaps. May be that’s why, in an infallibly raw and unfiltered tone, Little Dog talks about his early impressions of his grandma, Lan and his ma, Rose, that coincide with their immigration to America from Vietnam under the shelling quiver of Vietnam War.

His letter glows with the holes in the armour of both the women’s defiance in the face of extremely trying circumstances and lowly professions because he proudly plasters his heart with their frailties and failures as it makes them human, and like him.
'A fake. A fraud. Which was why I loved it.'
His letter trembles with the bittersweet sensation of making love the first time at an age where his gay identity was as much a stranger to him as it was to the world outside, and the rude realization that even under wraps, Love was a prisoner of societal rules.
'I got what I wanted—a boy swimming toward me. Except I was no shore, Ma. I was driftwood trying to remember what I had broken from to get here.'
His letter forgives the unspoken words of his grandfather and the truant tendencies of his ma. His letter accommodates the big questions of life hovering on dignity, fairness and humanity, without losing sight of the small joys of a flight of monarchs and content sleep of his ma after her son’s kneading. His letter brushes the roots of Saigon and the skies of Connecticut. His letter turns resplendent under the powerful lamp of story-telling, the kind that undulates on the elated and visceral veins of family, friendship, love and life.
'Do you remember the happiest day of your life? What about the saddest? Do you ever wonder if sadness and happiness can be combined, to make a deep purple feeling, not good, not bad, but remarkable simply because you didn’t have to live on one side or the other?'
Air.

An invisible shield that keeps us breathing. An indefinable nothingness that is necessary. Sometimes, the bearer of freedom and sometimes, the pall of gloom. But every time, there. Always. Inevitable. Urgent. And like air is this book.
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Reading Progress

July 1, 2019 – Started Reading
July 1, 2019 – Shelved
July 1, 2019 –
page 15
6.1% "'Because freedom, I am told, is nothing but the distance between the hunter and its prey.'"
July 1, 2019 –
page 30
12.2% "'The monarchs that fly south will not make it back north. Each departure, then, is final. Only their children return; only the future revisits the past.'"
July 4, 2019 –
page 170
69.11% "'They say nothing lasts forever but they’re just scared it will last longer than they can love it.'"
July 5, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-35 of 35 (35 new)

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Cheryl I can tell that this book moved you just as much as your spellbinding review has moved me, Seemita. I was captured by the title of Ocean’s book of poetry and when I read his interview in Poets, I decided to buy the chapbook. Now your review makes me think I’ll be reading this novel also. Thanks for bringing it to my attention after your much-counted-upon instinctive reading of it and your passionate review.


message 2: by Agnieszka (last edited Jul 05, 2019 11:05PM) (new) - added it

Agnieszka Oh, Simi, I want to read the novel too! You had me interested already from updates you posted and now this beautiful, moving review. The author was completely unknown to me so thanks for bringing him to my attention.


Elyse  Walters Seemita...your review is sooo beautiful...
I definitely want to read this book ...
And THANK YOU....
To read one of your passionate reviews is like savoring my favorite ice cream - Rum Raisin - and more so!!!


message 4: by Laysee (new)

Laysee Like the title of this book, your review is gorgeous, Seemita. So beautifully written.


message 5: by S.Ach (last edited Jul 10, 2019 01:55AM) (new) - added it

S.Ach What a wonderful review, Seemita!


Seemita Cheryl wrote: "I can tell that this book moved you just as much as your spellbinding review has moved me, Seemita. I was captured by the title of Ocean’s book of poetry and when I read his interview in Poets, I d..."

Ocean's voice did move me immensely, Cheryl. For someone so young and vulnerable to carry a flame so strong and unwavering came as a surprise to me; I stood near immobilized by the power of his recollection and imagery. I hadn't read anything of him until I stumbled upon this book in an article and hence, your recommendation of his poetry comes as sweet music to me. I am certain I shall read that, and more of this earnest, throbbing voice. Thanks for your warm pat and encouragement, as always.


Seemita Agnieszka wrote: "Oh, Simi, I want to read the novel too! You had me interested already from updates you posted and now this beautiful, moving review. The author was completely unknown to me so thanks for bringing h..."

Am I not glad, Agna, that you intend to give this book a try? I shall be all ears whenever you do so. And I hope you like it because then, I can gush some more over it in your lovely company :) Thanks for your consistent motivation, dearest.


message 8: by Seemita (last edited Jul 11, 2019 05:38AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Seemita Elyse wrote: "Seemita...your review is sooo beautiful...
I definitely want to read this book ...
And THANK YOU....
To read one of your passionate reviews is like savoring my favorite ice cream - Rum Raisin - an..."


Aww... You are a darling, Elyse!! Hugs! I totally look forward to your take on Vuong's searing narrative. But don't tempt a poor soul recovering from a nasty cold with Rum Raisin ice-cream; she shall succumb alright! :P


Seemita Laysee wrote: "Like the title of this book, your review is gorgeous, Seemita. So beautifully written."

Thank you so much, Laysee. The book inspired my tone.


Seemita S.Ach wrote: "What a wonderful review, Seemita!"

Thank you! And so nice to hear from you, Sujeet. Kemiti achanti?


message 11: by Stephen (new)

Stephen P It's funny how your gushing leads to beautiful, precise, evocative prose. Your pen is filled with wonder. Can't wait for your next post.


Seemita Stephen wrote: "It's funny how your gushing leads to beautiful, precise, evocative prose. Your pen is filled with wonder. Can't wait for your next post."

Ah, looks like the gushing might unfold afresh after hearing from you, Stephen! Thank you! And how have you been? I miss the times I was able to bask under the luminous reviews and insightful remarks of friends like you more frequently. Well, someday, those days of leisure shall return and I shall be ready to take the plunge once again :)

As far as this review is concerned though, I highly recommend the book to you; you shall most definitely find an ocean in Ocean's world.


message 13: by Dolors (new) - added it

Dolors The confessional, almost pleading tone of your review pulled at all my heartstrings at once, Simi. We can't fight air, we need it to survive, as we might need poetry and books that speak to our souls. It's obvious this one spoke the whole alphabet to you and I am grateful for having heard you sing, as I am pretty sure I'll be moved by this powerful symphony. Bookmarking it to buy it asap! Precious, delicate, exquisite write-up as ever!


message 14: by Traveller (new)

Traveller What a sensitively written, poignant review, Seemita! Undoubtedly it must do the book justice. If just reading your review can elicit such emotion, the novel itself must be deeply moving, and what a good reviewer you are, to illustrate the "feeling" of the book so well!


Seemita Dolors wrote: "The confessional, almost pleading tone of your review pulled at all my heartstrings at once, Simi. We can't fight air, we need it to survive, as we might need poetry and books that speak to our sou..."

Ah! With a beautiful comment from you, I am back to those haunting alleys of mellifluous music, piercing the skin and landing on the thump of my soul, D. You are so very right; this spoke the whole alphabet and I immersed in the pains and pleasures of a kin whom I could not quite trace but wildly feel. I am thrilled that you are planning to read this work! I can't wait to hear your thoughts.


message 16: by Ilse (new) - added it

Ilse So glad to read your magnificent, touching and subtle review on this book I had already marked to read, dear Seemita! And yes, I felt myself nodding at that last gorgeous quote, sadness and happiness can be experienced as a whole, even more, is being truly alive.


message 17: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Beautifully done, Seemita.


message 18: by Tsung (new) - added it

Tsung Splendid review Seemita! I'm sold.


message 19: by Hanneke (new) - added it

Hanneke What a beautiful review, Seemita dear! I was so touched by your words. Well, of course, there it goes on my list!


Seemita Traveller wrote: "What a sensitively written, poignant review, Seemita! Undoubtedly it must do the book justice. If just reading your review can elicit such emotion, the novel itself must be deeply moving, and what ..."

Trav! So nice to hear from you. I hope things have been good with you.

About this book, now what do I say that I already haven't? Except, may be, the fact that I end up reading some chapters here and there even now and feel a certain sense of intimacy with Ocean's family. I am treasuring this vicarious friendship..


message 21: by Samra (new) - added it

Samra Yusuf Here she is,with a stream of gentle yet effortless flow of her deft and lavish write up,I am too glad to be checking on updates today,goodness found my best reviewers in feed,I've already added it Seemita,just the time,you had it started,thank you for confirming it for me.


Seemita Ilse wrote: "So glad to read your magnificent, touching and subtle review on this book I had already marked to read, dear Seemita! And yes, I felt myself nodding at that last gorgeous quote, sadness and happine..."

I am glad you found beauty in the review just as I did in the book, dear Ilse. The heart of this book was so wounded yet resilient that I wasn't afraid to hear its trials and tribulations. There was a lingering effect of Vuong's prose that kept me mesmerised in numb camaraderie long after he had fallen silent. I wonder what your keen and sensitive eye shall make of Little Dog's journey.

P.S. I am terribly sorry for the delay in replying to you. I promise to remedy it henceforth.


message 23: by Seemita (last edited Oct 06, 2019 11:44PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Seemita Sue wrote: "Beautifully done, Seemita."

Thank you so much, Sue. I see you, too, have given it a sparkling 5 stars and I am headed to relive it at your page now.

P.S. Extremely sorry for the delayed reply. I shall attempt to not repeat it in future.


message 24: by Seemita (last edited Oct 06, 2019 11:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Seemita Tsung wrote: "Splendid review Seemita! I'm sold."

Ah! Music to my ears, Tsung. Do share your thoughts as and when you get to befriend Little Dog.

P.S. Very sorry for the late reply. I shall try not to be this infrequent in my future GR visits.


Seemita Hanneke wrote: "What a beautiful review, Seemita dear! I was so touched by your words. Well, of course, there it goes on my list!"

Many thanks, dear Hanneke! I am glad to have touched a chord with this review; trust me, there isn't a single hyperbole in my musings I hope you connect with the book whenever you allow it a hearing, and then, come back and share with me your rendezvous.

P.S. Apologies for the late reply. I am hoping to be better next time.


Seemita Samra wrote: "Here she is,with a stream of gentle yet effortless flow of her deft and lavish write up,I am too glad to be checking on updates today,goodness found my best reviewers in feed,I've already added it ..."

Oh I am so thrilled to hear you are about to read Vuong's novel, Samra! I am keeping my fingers crossed with regards to your reception towards it. And thank you for being so appreciative of my writing; I am touched by the fact that you have taken time out to look for my reviews. I hope you are doing well.

P.S. Apologies for this late reply. I am looking forward to not repeat it.


message 27: by leslie hamod (new) - added it

leslie hamod Beautifully written review Seemita!🌹


Seemita leslie hamod wrote: "Beautifully written review Seemita!🌹"

Thank you, Leslie.


message 29: by leslie hamod (new) - added it

leslie hamod You are always most welcome!😁


message 30: by Lynne (new) - added it

Lynne King Seemita, A beautiful review but then that's standard with you.


Seemita Lynne wrote: "Seemita, A beautiful review but then that's standard with you."

Aww... Thanks, dear Lynne! :)


message 32: by Alcornell (new) - added it

Alcornell Seemita, your gorgeous review reminded me that I had seen Vuong interviewed on one of our late night shows when this book was first published. He was so lovely, articulate and authentic, rendering his Ma with such kindness even in a very few minutes. I wanted to hug him. Right then I put the book on my list—where it still sits while I wade through a long list, reading whatever comes available first in my library. This book is like cream, rising to the top in a substantial, nourishing mound of beckoning goodness. Your review is like that as well. Thank you. I am going to check where this is in my library list and advance it post haste. Cheers!


message 33: by Gaurav (last edited Nov 11, 2019 09:22AM) (new) - added it

Gaurav Gorgeous review, Seemita, one which is infused with poetic sensibilities- esp. about that it was a prisoner of social obligations and norms. That's how we civilized being are, we've curbed ourselves off our natural inclinations in order to maintain 'equilibrium' only to later realize (though sometimes very late) it and ironically and invariably we find ourselves chained in the bars of our own dogmas.


message 34: by Seemita (last edited Dec 08, 2019 08:16AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Seemita Alcornell wrote: "Seemita, your gorgeous review reminded me that I had seen Vuong interviewed on one of our late night shows when this book was first published. He was so lovely, articulate and authentic, rendering ..."

Ah, Linda! That delightful parallel to cream rising to the top aptly underlines the inherent goodness of this book! Beneath the brutalities and inequalities seethes a heart that longs for sunshine and is willing to persevere for it. And as you have rightly said, Vuong is incredibly eloquent and clear-headed, and it comes through in hypnotic ripples in both this book and his interviews. I hope you find a deep connection with his Little Dog when you meet him in his (not so much) fictional world. I shall await your thoughts.

P.S. My apologies for this very delayed response.


message 35: by Seemita (last edited Dec 08, 2019 08:16AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Seemita Gaurav wrote: "Gorgeous review, Seemita, one which is infused with poetic sensibilities- esp. about that it was a prisoner of social obligations and norms. That's how we civilized being are, we've curbed ourselve..."

Thank you, Gaurav. You said it. Just how much of a price we pay to align ourselves to rules laid out by arbitrary people is anyone's guess but suffice to say that it is incredibly precious. I am glad there are books like these that question the status quo and transform grief into a potent weapon to emerge stronger from for many people.

P.S. Sorry for replying this late.


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