I don’t get it. This is the second disappointment of a lauded writer this month, and I feel like I know better now to listen to the crowd but not get influenced. My sanity is in my known unknown. My conviction in judging a million-copies-sold book, which is worshipped by so many, is critical so that I may discover the underrated and not be put in a box with others just because. The initial abundance becomes incoherent. There’s a literary vacuum. When you write to impress, the words bleed but not for the right cause. The lyrical symposium is absolutely enthralling till it’s not.
Unpopular Opinion of a Very Popular Book.
I so badly wanted to like this novel that I was literally confused as to its significance. Why did people fall in love with this pretentious piece of literature? It’s definitely an above-average attempt, and I respect Vuong for opening up his life and wounds like how he does, but after this novel, I might just tuck away the only copy I got after saving some bucks, his, Night Sky With Exit Wounds in a safe place because that book gave me hope. And “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” gave me hopelessness. Some parts felt personal, but then some begged me to pity the life lived by the author, and that’s where it became a bit too much.
When you type on the internet, why didn’t you like Ocean Vuong, the search comes up – Permanently Stunning. To which I retort – Very much temporarily.
Funny, tender, and stunning – It’s just cold or really sunny.
Lyrical – Ok. If you say so.
Most Anticipated – and here we are I say.
My point is not dissecting Ocean Vuong. He is definitely different. But did he make me feel different about his work than my peers?
YES and NO.
Yes, I was intrigued to read him and know about him. The media can’t seem to have enough of him. And I am a product of media somewhere, like most of us these days.
And No, I was not enchanted by his writing, in most parts. I felt he unnecessarily wrote so many paragraphs, which just made the whole book sound disjointed. An attempt at a good draft at most. Sure it has some great quotes. I mean, really. That’s what makes the poet shine. But is the book quotable as a whole? NOPE.
Also, I don’t know about you, but some parts felt like I listened or read them differently. So that dampened my spirits. Some pages, I dragged myself to see hard what was missing. Why was I not enjoying it as much as the one quote 20 pages back? Every four pages, there is a paragraph that made me sad or happy, intensely. But that’s it.
Later, I got to know that unpopular opinions have had the author’s wrath and how it can make one popular if not for the sheer honesty in a view that is disagreeable with maximum. I just felt that the pang of reading a well-publicized book could be overbearing and magnified. The worship might be workable for many, but the warmth didn’t stand against the sun and instead seemed like a poet lost in translation. Rather transpired. Ocean Vuong’s poetries are original and imperative. Prose, not so much.
no shores now
to arrive — or
no wind but
this waiting which
as if the seconds
could be entered
& never left
Some quotes which echoed when I read them in this particular book are:
“You once told me that the human eye is god’s loneliest creation. How so much of the world passes through the pupil, and still, it holds nothing. The eye, alone in its socket, doesn’t even know there’s another one, just like it, an inch away, just as hungry, empty.”
The word for missing someone and remembering them is the same: nhớ. Sometimes, when you ask me over the phone, Có nhớ mẹ không? I flinch, thinking you meant, Do you remember me? I miss you more than I remember you.