PositiveThe Los Angeles Review of Books...where I thought Ocean Vuong’s novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous most shines is in its depiction of Little Dog’s relationship to Trevor ... when Little Dog meets Trevor, a transformation occurs that changes the whole feel of the novel. Little Dog looks at himself in the mirror, seeing for the first time a body he can love. \'It was an accident, my beauty revealed to me,\' he writes, \'I was day-dreaming, thinking about the day before, of Trevor and me behind the Chevy, and had stood in the tub with the water off for too long. By the time I stepped out, the boy before the mirror stunned me.\' This felt to me the most wonderful moment in the novel: the sudden metamorphosis of the body, from an object of embarrassment seeking anonymity to something that reveals itself as worthy of desire ... On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is the novel I most looked forward to reading in 2019. The title is so provocative, the story so obviously compelling, and the author already famous for his craft, how could I not want to read it? ... As beautiful as the prose is throughout, however, the first third of this novel requires a lot of patience. The language is often figurative, slowing down the reading experience. At such moments, I wanted the narrator to speak more directly ... There’s nothing obvious about the beauty of Vuong’s novel...It is a beauty that asserts itself against vociferous claims to the contrary and demands a different way of looking and valuing what is seen.
Yeon-Sik Hong, Trans. by Hellen Jo
PositiveLos Angeles Review of Books\"... delightful and challenging ... To be candid, I struggled to get into this book. The title Uncomfortably Happily is awkward, suggesting perhaps that something idiomatic failed to translate from the original Korean ... It’s also very long — almost 600 pages — and dense, full of smallish panels and a lot of text ... Moreover, the book presents Hong as highly irritable and full of complaint ... But as the story progressed I began to appreciate its willingness to let Hong’s flaws show. It added to the complexity of his character, as well as illuminating that of his wife, who supports him while pursuing her own career ambitions ... Ultimately, this is a book that insists upon attention. Even the drawings, which at first appeared crude to me, yield surprising details, especially of the countryside ... The ending is poignant and offers a damning critique of the capitalist need for expansion and development. You should most definitely take the time to read this book.\
PositiveLos Angeles Review of BooksTomine’s experimentation with style, then, could be understood, at the most basic level, as an invitation to pay attention to what’s there on the page. We are being asked to see the details, and to wonder at the ways in which they complicate the story that’s being told.