Review: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Sometimes, every once in a while, a book will cross your path, seemingly by chance.

A few weeks ago, I was chatting to someone on a dating app and she mentioned that this book was “the best thing she had ever read” (maybe my choice of topic is where I’m going wrong in the dating scene…). However, it wasn’t her stellar recommendation that caught my attention, it was the name. Something in it spoke to me. Like most online dating conversations, it withered and died, but I’m eternally grateful for this brief dialogue.

“Too much joy is lost in our desperation to keep it” – Ocean Vuong

I really don’t have the words to give you to portray even a smidgen of how this book left me, only to say that some things need only speak for themselves. The final pages read through increasingly blurry eyes. What Ocean and his family endured I cannot even begin to imagine, but through what can only be described as pure poetry, Ocean helped me try. To tell a story is a fantastic skill, but to be a storyteller is truly spellbinding.

“Sometimes being offered tenderness feels like the very proof that you’ve been ruined.” – Ocean Vuong

The way Ocean captures ideas and links them throughout is pure art. The book is a letter to his Vietnamese mother who doesn’t speak a word of English. A biography of sorts, of growing up as an immigrant in the US and the challenges of being Asian and gay in an already accepting society, fraught with domestic violence and drug abuse.

I think I will leave it at that. On Earth We’re Truly Beautiful is as magnificent as the name suggests.

“I miss you more than I remember you.” – Ocean Vuong

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