Love is not always romantic. Love can be gentle, kind and calm. Such as the love between a mother and a son. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a love letter of sorts, from a son to his mother. The catch is that the mother cannot read. Immersed between the lines of literacy and illiteracy this book traces the journey of thought and emotion, of love and trust, of truth and loyalty.
ABOUT THE BOOK
This book is written in the perspective of Little Dog, a twenty-something old man, leaving a paper trial for his mother to find through the form of his letters. These letters unearth a family’s history that started years before he was born.
The history of this family is rooted in Vietnam – a colorful, culturally located space. This place plays a significant role in the story of Little Dog and his mother. A place that has the potential to reveal major truths. While this book is about the love between a mother and son, it also traces the geographies of class, race and masculinity. It questions the American movement, it questions the truth of addiction, violence and trauma. But beneath this gore there is tenderness and love. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a novel of telling one’s own life story, of owning oneself.
This book is littered with beautiful themes such as:
● Healing: these letters are a way for Little Dog to heal and recover from his relationship with his mom.
● Communication: the very format of this book is letters. It’s a means of communication, of sharing love. If you notice deeply, you will realize that the mother cannot read. Who is he writing to then? He is writing to himself, to the world to that and to this – he is trying to communicate his love to the world.
The central character of this book is its speaker, Little Dog. He is a twenty-something year old man with aspirations and dreams. Some of these dreams are shackled by shackles such as race and class. Yet this is a book of survival. It is a book of courage.
These letters are filled with beautiful prose detailing the life of Little Dog. Some of my favorites are:
– “They say nothing lasts forever but they’re just scared it will last longer than they can love it.”
– “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, as empty.”
– “I am thinking of beauty again, how some things are hunted because we have deemed them beautiful. If, relative to the history of our planet, an individual life is so short, a blink, as they say, then to be gorgeous, even from the day you’re born to the day you die, is to be gorgeous only briefly.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
On Earth We’re briefly Gorgeous is Ocean Vuong’s debut novel. This rich and lyrical novel has a poetry collection as its precedence. Vuong’s poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wound was written with the same beauty as this novel was.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a book that you must read if you love poetry, beauty, words and really just the art of communicating. Written in such a simple manner, through letters, this book is a journey for every reader. A simple letter to his mother, detailing class, race and masculinities, this is a book of truth. If you are ready to discover the harsh truth of the world, its time for you to pick this up.