Eavesdropping on Ocean Vuong’s New Book

In “On Earth,” there’s a scene the place Vuong’s point-of-view stand-in, Little Dog, is served jasmine tea over rice. “True peasant food,” his grandmother says. “This is our fast food, Little Dog. This is our McDonald’s!” In the novel, being poor is portrayed not by its tragedy however by its uncommon moments of pleasure. Whereas poverty is usually utilized in fiction as a plot mechanism, Vuong writes it as a texture, a reality of life.

Vuong, 30, lives in a good-looking single-story dwelling in Northampton, Mass., the place he teaches inventive writing on the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. When I go to, I’m first greeted by his canine, a Shih Tzu-poodle combine named Tofu. We sit at a reclaimed wooden eating desk, the place Vuong has laid out “Beloved,” “Gilead,” “Moby Dick” and different books which have impressed him. On the wall, there’s an LP of Frank Ocean’s “Blonde.”

Vuong likes the quiet, home rhythms of residing in Northampton. Before, he was residing on Long Island, commuting two-and-a-half hours every option to educate poetry at New York University. He lived amongst roommates with children. It was a loud dwelling, so Vuong would write in his bed room closet. (As a queer creator, he says, “The irony is not lost on me.”) It was a refuge: a laptop computer, lamp and Vuong together with his headphones on, seemingly listening to Frank Ocean.

Throughout the numerous revisions, the vanity was all the time clear: the novel could be a letter addressed to Vuong’s mom, who’s illiterate. It makes use of a story construction referred to as kishōtenketsu, generally seen within the work of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, a type that refuses to deploy battle as a way of progressing the story.

“It insists that a narrative structure can survive and thrive on proximity alone,” Vuong says. “Proximity builds tension.”

There aren’t any villains, no victims, and no clear arcs. His purpose: to create “a new gaze, a new attribution to American identity,” he says.

Source link Nytimes.com

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