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I said in a previous review that one of the themes of my reading is about what happens when we try to bring gods into concrete human reality. Another theme is about conflicts between modern, post-modern, and traditional in national/cultural communities. A couple years ago, i saw a performance (can't remember the name of the group) about global citizens who were at home everywhere but yet had no home anywhere, who resided in between cultures and places. It was simultaneously lonely and infinitely...
I'm officially in love with Andrew Lam's words. In this memoir, Lam's exquisite way of navigating worlds as the global villager, from San Francisco to Paris to Hanoi and back to childhood Dalat, is parceled into the finest of lines and paragraphs. That he becomes public in English, a third language, French and Vietnamese his first languages, is phenomenal. The hard edges of truths and realizations are blurred only by Lam's lyrical abilities, which allow him and us to peer more deeply into the li...
since i wrote it, i suppose i'm a bit bias. Lol...
At first I was worried that this book might centralize a bruised machismo, not only because the author is male but because his father is a former southern Vietnamese war general, which could have lead to a lateral drawn-out story of redemption. Lam instead writes well on the complexities of "becoming" that grapple with a new language and Western modernization, and opportunities of creative expression or reinventing, while being sensitive to filial duties, acts of betrayal, dismantling Confucian
this book exceeded my expectations in retelling the stories of vietnamese diaspora. i gave 4 stars instead of 5 stars because the book is a collection of essays, and since each is written with the author's background, repeated several times, i now remember he's left vietnam in a cargo plane to guam on 4/28/1975.it is also notable that the author writes well, at times reflecting poetry, wit and humor.
As the son of a vietnamese refugee in France, the topic of this book was obviously appealing to me, though it focuses more on the vietnamese diaspora in the USA. Literature about the aftermaths of the Vietnam War for the southern (losing) side remains scarce and so far I know, the authors generally speaking from an american or north-vietnamese/communist narrative. I do no think, that a similar book has ever been written about the vietnamese diaspora in France (though France is, if I am not wro
I was adopted from Vietnam when I was just a baby, so I don't have a real connection with my birth country. Yes, I want to return to see where I was born, but my Vietnamese experiences are different from those of the author's and of the people he interviews in a number of his stories. That doesn't mean that I found the book irrelevant to my life. Rather the book allowed me an insight into the experiences of Vietnamese people both from that complicated country and those born here of parents who h...
HEARTFELTLam's writing is deeply moving. Going beneath an often impenetrable silence Lam reincarnates with passion, not only for himself and his family, but for many others as well, what it `feels' like to be an immigrant in America from Vietnam. The stories are touching and genuine; the burning of the family memoirs and photos... painful. Trying to assimilate in American culture by telling wartime stories to assume popularity with classmates...tear-jerking, along with his first act of betrayal
I am not an impartial judge of this one, because it brought back so many memories of my time spent with Laotian immigrants. There are differences, but it doesn't changes some powerful similarities that have all of my emotions stirred. That being said, I am still pretty sure that it is well-written. Some of the essays are quite long and others are short, but they are written with insight and sensitivity and occasionally humor, despite still often being emotionally devastating.
This is a book any Vietnamese first generation child should read. This book illuminated a lot for me about my parents and the culture they were raised in. It also gave me a sense of relief that there were other Vietnamese Americans growing up to be artists and creative persons. I could very much relate to what he was talking about.
When I read Perfume Dreams I got the sense that Lam wrote all these articles at different times, and independently, later gathering them into a book. Read together the articles are a bit redundant, although each article does have something unique to it.The writing style isn't really my cup of tea but he does do beautiful things with language.
Read it for an anthropology class, and I actually liked it. If you want to understand the Vietnamese diaspora and the 1.5 generation, I highly recommend this book.
Worth the read, but I got 100x more from Catfish and Mandala.
Reading Lam's essays/stories gave me an important and incredible glimpse into another war refugee's experiences and thoughts on life and death. Being adopted from Vietnam as an infant, on paper, I'm part of the diaspora that came forth from the end of the Vietnam/American War. However, due to my age and circumstances, I have no recollection of my few months living in South Vietnam and no blood relations to tell me stories about the old country. The essays presented in Perfume Dreams made me refl...
Initially, this book was too slow for but as time progressed I began to really enjoy the writing. Using simplistic language, the author describes what goes through the mind of a child going through a war escaping and growing up in America. His juxtaposed experiences tell a story of person that has truly lived different lives.I especially enjoyed the portions of the book in which the author describes how different this modern world is compared to the life his parents led in Vietnam. His father, a...
"The greatest phenomenon in this century, I am convinced, has little to do with the world wars but with the dispossessed they sent fleeing; the Cold War and its aftermath has given birth to a race of children born "elsewhere," of transnationals whose memories are layered and whose biographies transgress national boundaries." In richly evocative language, Lam describes his own experience and that of other Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Americans since the war whose location is the sum of what most Ame...
I read this out of order. I read his first book last. He returns to many of the same themes in his other book of essays East Easts West and his short story collection, Birds of Paradise Lost. I particularly love his short stories. I highly recommend them even if you don't generally like reading short stories. They are both accessible and mysterious. The beautiful and haunting moments in these essays are explored further in his fiction. He has more details that feel emotionally closer to the even...
Of course, this subject interests me very much. The Vietnamese diaspora...........love that word! Somewhat similar to Andrew Lam's, Catfish and Mandala, as a bittersweet remembrance of the early years in So. Vietnam and the flight to the confusing world of America. Worth a look for sure
Thank you for the insider look on being Vietnamese American and leaving Vietnam. I think I have a better, more compassionate understanding of the complexities, if not the language. I think I need to brush up on the historical context. Maybe read Takaki's chapter on refugees from SE Asia. In all seriousness, I ate a lot of Buckeye Pho and watched a lot of Vietnamese music videos while finishing this book.
I'm afraid this is one of those books I read to make myself look intelligent. It's fascinating, heartbreaking, lovely, fierce, lonely. New eyes on what it means to be an American. A difficult read, emotionally and intellectually.
My mother suffered many of the same experiences as the author, though she came from the Ukraine after WWII. Still, I wasn't as overwhelmed as some reviewers. The stories are often heart rending, but too much of the same thing. The Whitehead chapter was good.
Lam arrived in the USA as a child refugee of the Vietnam War. This book is a collection of essays in which he reflects on his memories of Vietnam, the war, and coming to the United States. It's well-written, engaging, and, ultimately, very uplifting.
This book is excellent. Andrew Lam makes you feel simultaneously soaring above the glittering streaks of the ocean and shuffling through the dirt of a refugee camp -- it's the before and after of becoming an immigrant. He bottled the diasporic essence and spilled it across these pages.
A collection of essays relating to the Vietnamese-American experience, this book is well-written but I found the structure (or lack of) not very conducive for creating a big picture. A little fractured, maybe that was the intent though.
This is a nice story about Andrew's experience fleeing Vietnam at the end of the war and his experiences as a foreigner is California.
Another wonderful book that fed my fascination with Vietnam, as well as the Vietnamese American experience.
Some of the essays, especially early in the book, are very poignant and provide clarity on the Vietnamese diaspora. I was less interested in many in the middle, but it got good again at the end.
The more mature response to one's tragedy is not hatred nor resentment but spiritual resilience with which one can, again and again, struggle to transcend one's own biographical limitations. History is trapped in me, indeed, but history is also mine to work out, to disseminate, to discern and appropriate, and to finally transform into aesthetic self-expression. Really loved this set of essays on the Vietnamese diaspora. Andrew Lam writes with a deep understanding of himself and the journey he
I've now read two works of Andrew Lam and he is an excellent writer whether it is in fictional prose in his short story collection or nonfiction essays as in this collection. His style sucks you into the world of it and you want to know more.
Found out that my grandfather and the author’s father were friends while reading this book. Neat.