On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong Review

Title: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
Author: Ocean Vuong
Genre: Fiction
Blurb: 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. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one's own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.

Me: I've heard Ocean Vuong's name again and again now for a couple of years. I'm so glad I finally got to sit down and read one of his works- especially a book as beautiful and heartbreaking as this one. 

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino Review

 Title: Invisible Cities
Author: Italo Calvino
Genre: Fiction, Magical Realism

Blurb: Kublai Khan does not necessarily believe everything Marco Polo says when he describes the cities visited on his expeditions, but the emperor of the Tartars does continue listening to the young Venetian with greater attention and curiosity than he shows any other messenger or explorer of his." So begins Italo Calvino's compilation of fragmentary urban images. As Marco tells the khan about Armilla, which "has nothing that makes it seem a city, except the water pipes that rise vertically where the houses should be and spread out horizontally where the floors should be," the spider-web city of Octavia, and other marvelous burgs, it may be that he is creating them all out of his imagination, or perhaps he is recreating fine details of his native Venice over and over again, or perhaps he is simply recounting some of the myriad possible forms a city might take.

Me: I picked this book up in Faulkner House Books, a New Orleans bookstore in the most picturesque alley with the best vibes. I knew I had to get a book there and I chose Invisible Cities because I'd heard great things about it and the cover was so unique (almost like a textured cover?). I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it, because it's a stunning book that almost defies classification: a collection of vignettes, a bunch of traveling tales, and just pockets of imagination in one? 

An Unexpected Return

Hey guys! First of all, I just want to check in and make sure everyone is doing okay. We're living through some crazy history right now, and before anything, it's so important that we take care of each other. The best thing we all can do right now is stay home. For those who are lucky enough to work or study from home, we've found a lot of extra time on our hands. So what better time to tackle that stack of books?

Czech Republic: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Review

Title: The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Author: Milan Kundera
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Blurb: In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera tells the story of a young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing and one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover. This magnificent novel juxtaposes geographically distant places, brilliant and playful reflections, and a variety of styles, to take its place as perhaps the major achievement of one of the world’s truly great writers.

Me: The first book I've read for fun in college! It had been on my list for a while and I thought I'd finally give it a read... so glad I did. It got me out of a reading rut and was stunning and totally new but also very readable. 

Where we go from here: Plans & New Beginnings

Hey everyone! Oh my gosh, I know it's been basically forever since I've written consistently on here, and to be honest, I did have a brief second of wondering if I should completely let this go and spend my time elsewhere. But I'm about to start a whole new chapter of reading & other things in my life, and I realized I'd be too sad to let this form of logging & thinking go. So I wanted to say: I'm back! With updates! I don't know what my schedule will look like in school, but I'm going to do all I can to keep this up. 

A Toni Morrison Documentary: The Pieces I Am & Thoughts

Image result for the pieces i am

Hey everyone! It's been a h o t second since I've written here, and can't lie- it does feel a little strange to be back. I feel like I've tried and explained my spottiness again and again, but there's really no excuses - second semester senior year & its best friend burnout hit me like a truck and everything just kind of fell through... it was a little scary - there was like a good few months where I didn't even feel motivated to read! 

Angola: A General Theory of Oblivion Review

Title: A General Theory of Oblivion
Author: Jose Eduardo Agualusa
Translator: Daniel Hahn
Publisher: Archipelago books

BlurbOn the eve of Angolan independence an agoraphobic woman named Ludo bricks herself into her apartment for 30 years, living off vegetables and the pigeons she lures in with diamonds, burning her furniture and books to stay alive and writing her story on the apartment’s walls.

Almost as if we’re eavesdropping, the history of Angola unfolds through the stories of those she sees from her window. As the country goes through various political upheavals from colony to socialist republic to civil war to peace and capitalism, the world outside seeps into Ludo’s life through snippets on the radio, voices from next door, glimpses of someone peeing on a balcony, or a man fleeing his pursuers.

Me: Before anything else, hi! So sorry about the sudden disappearance - the last few months have been a time of a lot of change and just growth for me, and I've also been doing quite a bit of reading. I'm glad to be back!

I was completely blown away by this book. It's been a while since I've discovered such a gorgeous, thoughtful piece that also reads so easily.