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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Vuong, Ocean, 1988- Book - 2019 Fiction / Vuong, Ocean, Adult Book / Fiction / General / Vuong, Ocean 2 On Shelf 3 requests on 11 copies Community Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Call Number: Fiction / Vuong, Ocean, Adult Book / Fiction / General / Vuong, Ocean
On Shelf At: Downtown Library

Location & Checkout Length Call Number Checkout Length Item Status
Downtown 2nd Floor
4-week checkout
Fiction / Vuong, Ocean 4-week checkout On Shelf
Downtown 2nd Floor
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Fiction / Vuong, Ocean 4-week checkout On Shelf
Malletts Adult Books
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Adult Book / Fiction / General / Vuong, Ocean 4-week checkout On Hold Shelf
Traverwood Adult Books
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Adult Book / Fiction / General / Vuong, Ocean 4-week checkout On Hold Shelf
Traverwood Adult Books
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Adult Book / Fiction / General / Vuong, Ocean 4-week checkout Due 02-23-2024
Traverwood Adult Books
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Adult Book / Fiction / General / Vuong, Ocean 4-week checkout Due 02-07-2024
Traverwood Adult Books
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Adult Book / Fiction / General / Vuong, Ocean 4-week checkout Due 03-17-2024
Westgate Adult Books
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Adult Book / Fiction / General / Vuong, Ocean 4-week checkout On Hold Shelf
Westgate Adult Books
4-week checkout
Adult Book / Fiction / General / Vuong, Ocean 4-week checkout Due 03-07-2024
Westgate Adult Books
4-week checkout
Adult Book / Fiction / General / Vuong, Ocean 4-week checkout Due 03-02-2024
Pittsfield Adult Books
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Adult Book / Fiction / General / Vuong, Ocean 4-week checkout Due 02-25-2024

"Brilliant, heartbreaking, tender, and highly original - poet Ocean Vuong's debut novel is a sweeping and shattering portrait of a family, and a testament to the redemptive power of storytelling. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family's history that began before he was born--a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam--and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity"-- Provided by publisher.

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COMMUNITY REVIEWS

Enrapturing from a surprisingly young and well-liked author submitted by sVfGI7Glt2pz7GZgVB90 on July 10, 2020, 7:11am
In this brief, poetic narrative, the Vietnamese-American narrator (his first novel) oscillates between his reminiscences of being an abused child and his realization of his sexuality when he fell in love, at 14, with a boy at a Connecticut homestead.

An unforgettable story that illuminates the need and the detriment of immigrating to an unfriendly, standoffish land. A chronicle of life on the margins of American society: this book investigates how America sees race, masculinity, addiction, art, craving, and paucity.

Didn't work for me submitted by Susan4Pax -prev. sueij- on June 18, 2021, 9:58pm (Contains a mild spoiler) The storytelling devices left me hating this book. Some will love it, and I’m happy for them, but this utterly didn’t work for me.

The novel is told in second person (you), and I spent much of the first section (first third) confused about who was who and their relationships. I never quite worked those out. In the second section, ‘you’ is sometimes the mother and sometimes the narrator (how does that work?!?) (e.g. on the last page of that section, the author writes “both of you,” referring to the narrator and Trevor).

I hate the grammar. The first third has page after page with paragraphs that start “That time when…”. If it wouldn’t have passed my middle school English teacher, I don’t want it in my novel. I didn’t find it dreamy (or whatever it was supposed to be), I found it annoying.

Part of the book contains detailed descriptions of two teens with trauma histories, who sometimes use hard drugs, one of whom is underage, having sex. I’m a social worker. I’ve been in courtrooms listening to those stories and I’ve been in sessions listening to those stories. Framed as consensual or not, just NO.

The core of this book is that a child/teen has adult-level insights about pretty much everything. Have you met children? They do not think like this.

There are some solidly interesting topics addressed in this book, and I’m sad that I missed the book club discussion about it, but I hated the format of the storytelling, and the framing of a young person having this level of insight (as a young person, not as an adult reflecting back) feels completely unbelievable to me. This book is a hard pass for me.

heartbreaking submitted by kath on July 20, 2021, 11:03pm this book is new, different and above all else heartbreaking. I thought it was beautifully written and at times difficult.

Beautifully written submitted by bcartm01 on June 17, 2022, 10:43pm I listened to the author narrate his own writing on audiobook and I would suggest reading it this way. The writing sounds very poetic, which made a lot of
sense to me after reading his book of poems. He has a unique perspective and I really enjoyed it. It is a difficult story to listen to but important.

It's a lot submitted by hjzechar on July 15, 2022, 3:49pm Whew. This book is a lot. I really appreciate the complexity of the relationships-- the troubled people who are neither discarded as toxic nor embraced to the point of destroying the narrator. I think this is a more realistic portrayal of how we interact with the problematic people in our lives.

I love love love this book submitted by bookasaurusray on July 27, 2022, 10:57am I don't know how I can possibly discuss it - it hollowed me out, and I loved every second I spent in its pages. I don't think I've had such a response to a text since A Little Life (though they're very different books); all I know is that I want to live in his writing forever.

"Dear Ma -
Let me begin again.
I am writing because it's late.
Because it's 9:52 p.m. on a Tuesday and you must be walking home after the closing shift.
I am not with you 'cause I'm at war. Which is one way of saying it's already February and the President wants to deport my friends. It's hard to explain.
For the first time in a long time, I'm trying to believe in heaven, in a place we can be together after all this blows -over- up.
They say ever snowflake is different-but the blizzard it covers us all the same. A friend in Norway told me a story about a painter who went out during a storm, search for the right shade of green, and never returned.
I'm writing you because i'm not the one leaving, but the one coming back, empty-handed."

I hate and love this book submitted by 21621031390949 on June 18, 2023, 10:37pm I hate/love this book and a truer rating would be 2.5/5. Vuong’s writing is amazing - lush, lyrical, poetic; but it is also frustratingly obtuse, confounding, and affected. It struts its stuff a bit too much. The story itself is anguished. It is so very, very painful to read much of this obviously autobiographical novel. I found I needed to read it in small chunks, and I alternated it with much lighter fare as an antidote.

Brilliant novel submitted by redwood on July 17, 2023, 12:41pm Vuong has mentioned that he was inspired by Kishotenketsu, a narrative structure in which, as he said in a LitHub article, “violence becomes fact and not a vehicle towards a climax.” Things happen in this novel, but these things do not propel the engine of the plot. I’ve always felt that Vuong manages to sustain this entire book through a sense of surface tension, a state of delicate strength that could be broken at any moment. Every moment of this book to me seems inside the feeling of a thing as it happens, as it changes the protagonist, Little Dog’s, world.

At the same time, a pervading feeling of this book is nostalgia, in its original Greek roots—“nostos,” for homecoming; “algos,” for pain. Two figures in Little Dog’s life dominate the narrative. The novel is structured as an unsendable, unreadable letter to his abusive mother, Rose. And sometimes, it reads like a love letter to his first love, a white boy named Trevor. The trauma of the Vietnam War, addiction, domestic abuse, homophobia, and hard labor color these relationships. Vuong’s language is both poetic and analytical, turning the implications of each memory, each hurt, over and over again, asking after the nature of art and beauty. When grief is the strongest affect of the book, Vuong writes in lines, putting space between difficult images.

I’m most interested in the novel’s work as a rural-urban narrative. Little Dog and his family live in urban Hartford, while he bikes eight-and-a-half miles to work on a tobacco farm in the summer. It’s in the country that all of his memories with Trevor are made, and the way Little Dog’s two loci play against each other is, I think, key. He experiences queerness differently in rural and urban space. The environments of this novel brim over with potential, and I want to meet some of what they offer.

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PUBLISHED
New York : Penguin Press, 2019.
Year Published: 2019
Description: 246 pages ; 22 cm
Language: English
Format: Book

ISBN/STANDARD NUMBER
9780525562023
0525562028

SUBJECTS
Vietnamese Americans -- Fiction.
Mothers and sons -- Fiction.
Epistolary fiction.