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"The tears are built-in to our war stories. Humor provides a back door to sadness that allows for a more gentle, and perhaps deeper, absorption of the story. That doesn't mean I in anyway try to lessen the horror in the story."
Bao: My parents loved Vietnamese arts and poetry but knew they lived in a culture that doesn’t value that. And yet here they had a son who was going into art in the English language, and they feared for my survival, which is a pressure a lot of people don’t understand.
My counselor asked me if I’ve had any traumatic experiences lately. This was 12 minutes into our first meeting, after he asked me to rate my happiness, on a scale from one to ten.
Vũ and Dương’s sweeping memoir unveils to the English-language reader a three pronged journey that would otherwise be held in mystery: the work of Vietnamese war correspondents during the Việt Nam War, the experience of South Vietnamese citizens, particularly women, imprisoned in Communist “re-education” camps, and the agonizing captivity of refugees held as hostages by Thai pirates.
And so this is the ultimate loss, the thing that haunts us the most, because it’s the ghost of not being heard through the sound of the gun, through the sound of War, through the voices of others. This is the lesson that carries itself throughout The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born.