I picked up this book based on the author’s last name—Phạm. I didn’t know anything about her, but I wanted to hear more Vietnamese-American voices in the literary world. It didn’t take long for me to follow her lead. She took me deep into her world where art, sex, and everything else in between. She writes with raw emotion and fearless honesty. I love the intimate details in her personal life. I wish I knew more about art to appreciate her insightful criticisms. I am so glad that I have read this book and looking forward to reading more of her works in the future.
Here’s an excerpt Phạm writes about her family:
The trouble with leaving somewhere is that it means arriving, eventually, to some other place. No matter how far or long you go, eventually you’ll arrive somewhere where you need to refigure yourself. My father had done it, leaving his home in Vietnam to attend a university overseas, before war broke out again in earnest and he learned he wouldn’t be able to return home for decades. My mother’s family had done it, as refugees, airlifted out just after the fall of Saigon in April of 1975. Through a string of refugee camps, first in the Philippines, then Arkansas, she’d come to Portland, Oregon, where she met my father. And then they had me. A product of this political displacement, I’ve always been in this space of refiguring. I’ve never really felt I had a home, only places I’ve lived. I’ve always been aware of what my existence means, that my presence here-wherever here might be—is the result of an absence somewhere else.