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On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a book-length letter of a 28-year-old gay Vietnamese American man to his mother. It is a letter she cannot read, but it doesn’t make it less important. Through impressionistic scenes, Little Dog, the novel’s narrator, builds not only a picture of the life he has with his mother but a landscape of love, memory, and ultimately history.
The Missing Piece Project is so incredibly important because it demands a transformation of memory, a rethinking of how history has rendered the war in Vietnam.
A sense of hauntedness pervades throughout the exhibition, as preternatural phenomena, as references to signs of former life, or as phantom flashes in multi-layered videos in Thùy-Hân Nguyễn-Chí's solo exhibition, In What My Eyes Behold Is Simultaneous.
Watching the film Spirited Away when I was in my first year of high-school changed how I viewed the world. It was the first time I realised that magic existed: it existed in stories, in people, in the very ordinary and the very extraordinary.
For Vietnamese kids who left Vietnam but weren’t part of the large migration wave to the US after the fall of Saigon in 1975, who went to New Caledonia, New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), Canada, France, West Germany, the Philippines, even Norway, we are like seeds spread by the winds that sprouted and learned how to thrive without anyone knowing what to name us. We are part of the Vietnamese diaspora, but we have yet to name ourselves.
Filmmaker Maegan Houang explains that "In Full Bloom" tells the story of Cecile, an elderly Vietnamese hoarder, whose life is upended when worms open a black hole in her house.
On 1 July 1972 during the Easter Offensive two Vietnamese journalists, Ngy Thanh and Đoàn Kế Tường, used a heavily damaged railway bridge to cross the Bến Đá River, which bisects Highway One between the cities of Quảng Trị and Huế. What met them on the other side was a scene of carnage: many hundreds of civilian and military personnel corpses littered the highway, the result of an attack two months earlier.
Her research focuses not just on the events of the massacre, but on the civilian efforts—spearheaded by the independent newspaper Sóng Thần (which my mother and father were publishers and editors of)—to identify and bury the bodies of the dead in the aftermath of the event.
“People here,” he says, “still think Vietnam is a jungle—brown savages, an exotic Asian whore who you can’t possess, but still satisfies all your sexual demands. It’s burnt into the American imagination. You can’t change that.” In a quietly controlled book, it’s an unexpected moment of rage, where the author and her character lay bare the type of narrative she’s working against.