Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Goodbye Vietnam

This is my last full day in 'Nam. Tonight I take a night bus to the border, then tomorrow afternoon I take another bus across the border and tomorrow night I'll be sleeping in Laos.

I'm leaving all of one day before my visa runs out. The month went by quickly. There's a lot to see here and I even skipped over several of the big tourist hubs (beach towns of Mui Ne and Nha Trang, ancient ruins at Hue), but then I also lingered for about a week on Phu Quoc.

I booked my flight home today and have just under a month left before I'm back in Oregon. I plan to split the time between Laos and Yunnan (southern China). Since I've seen the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia, I think I'll stick to northern Laos as I really don't want to shortchange my time in China. 

What I'm Reading

Just finished

Loved it. It's a family drama/love story set in Britain just before and during WWII. It's also a movie with Keira Knightley and has won a lot of accolades, so I probably don't need to waste time explaining. I love historical fiction, but this is more than that since the main point is the narration. A post-modern classic, for sure.

A family drama with surrealist elements, mainly that the daughter/narrator can taste people's feelings in the food that they bake. I don't love surrealism, but this was well written, all the characters were compelling, I appreciated it.

This was up for a Pulitzer last year when the selection committee was like, "Nah, none of these will do." It's also surreal/fantastical and is about a family falling apart on a Floridian island where they run an alligator wrestling show. Karen Russell is really funny, she's a great stylist. Again, anything surreal probably wont ever make my list of favorites, but I liked this enough I've put one of her short story collections (St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves) on my ebook lending list.

Pretty, pretty grim. Faulkner. That guy. He could write a sentence that was a giant paragraph or an entire chapter that was only, "My mother is a fish." (No really, that's in the book.) Who gets away with that? He told people that he wrote this book in six weeks, knew ahead of time it was going to be feggin' awesome, and that he never changed a word. That's not entirely true. He wrote it in about eight weeks, and there were some edits. Also, when he couldn't get into the military in the US during WWI, he ran up to Canada and snuck into the RAF. The war ended before he saw action, but he still went home and bragged about his exploits. As someone who plans to sit down and write a novel this summer, I find it comforting that one of America's most acclaimed writers was, quite often, completely full of shit.

Currently reading

I picked this up in high school and put it down when it got to the weird sex, which, yeah, is kind of tangential to Ayn Rand's whole point, but still - ew. Actually that's what I said last night, out loud to myself, when I re-arrived at the rape-y sex. After a lot of the books I've been reading, the characters seem clunky and the conflicts lack nuance. On the other hand, I like Dagny's whole build-and-be-great credo. There's a reason this book remains relevant.

I didn't pay for any of these books. I borrowed them all from the Oregon Digital Library Consortium for my Kindle, which is a super awesome reason to have a library card. 

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