Saturday, December 25, 2021

Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In by Phuc Tran


I bought SIGH, GONE on impulse because I'd heard so many great things about it from friends. SIGH, GONE is the memoir of Phuc Tran, who moved to the U.S. from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in the Vietnam War. It's a pretty intense memoir filled with his experiences with culture shock, racism, punk culture, 1980s nostalgia, and, of course, his passion: literature.

One thing he does that I really liked was tie so many of his key experiences to some of his favorite works of literature. I probably would have appreciated this even more if I actually liked the books he was referencing but sadly his taste is pretty canon and mine is, well, not. My taste in lit-fic runs more to things like JANE EYRE and I CAPTURE THE CASTLE and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO.

Which leads me to what didn't really make this memoir work for me. Parts of it were so tedious. I loved the parts of his childhood, like his rise to skater boy fame among his peers or his angst over selling his comic books for punk gear, but oh my god, it was the longest three hundred pages ever. There was just so much extra padding.

I think if you grew up in this time period (he's about ten years older than me), like literary fiction, and have a really deep nostalgia for punk culture, this book will feel like coming home. I appreciated a lot about this book but I also ended up skimming a lot of what I didn't. Your mileage may vary.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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