When I finished reading this, I kissed it, the way I was taught, when I was little, to kiss a book of psalms. The Torah.
And to be honest, that’s what this book is: it contains everything. Open it and turn it around and around, for in it is the whole world.
I haven’t read a book I immediately want to restart in decades. Now this.
I have to recover.
Vuong has somehow produced a book as mind blowing as Night Sky With Exit Wounds, his most recent work of poetry.
Okay. Let me write some semblance of a review of content.
If you’re looking for plot, look elsewhere. Vuong has chosen, loosely, the epistolary form for his first novel. The book is one long letter to his mother. To be more accurate, it is a REWRITTEN letter to his mother, as Vuong tells us that previous drafts failed.
But in that letter is everything. It traces the speaker’s life (genre becomes useless here...the speaker is Ocean Vuong, but he’s not claiming that this is an autobiography. But I think Vuong would agree that everything we write, say, do, and feel is an autobiography) from childhood, to first love and sexual awakening to adulthood and loss.
That’s really it.
But there are more beautiful, elegant, soul crushingly fresh lines in this book than in 20 of greater length.
This has moved immediately into my all time top ten.
I can’t provide quotes because I’d have to rewrite the whole book.