Quick Book Review: “On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Vuong

"On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous" by Ocean Vuong

This novel recounts the life of Little Dog, the son of Vietnamese immigrants, and his experiences growing up in the US.  The author is an award-winning poet, and he certainly deserves the accolades.  Nearly every sentence is dripping with perfect, beautiful wordplay.  Sometimes I found myself stopping and re-reading some of the sentences simply because the words were amazing.  For me, however, this turned out to be more of a distraction than an advantage.  The imagery and atmosphere that he created were intense, but the fragmentary, poetic style is not the greatest for storytelling, and the story really gets buried under all this imagery.  The elements of the story are very interesting (his very complicated relationship with his mother, his grandmother, and his teenage love affair with a boy named Trevor), but it is told is staccato bursts, and it gets obscured by the exquisite poetic wording, in my opinion.  This book received fabulous reviews and won many awards.  I was very anxious to read it and I really wanted to like it, but ultimately, I was disappointed. 

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