The last couple months I have seen the backlog of my unpublished postings really pile up. But my alibis are in order: 1.) The Cubs were in the race for the NL pennant again. This was the fourth year that the team has been relevant in October. I have been watching way too much MLB network and reading daily briefs from The Chicago Tribune, but that all came to an abrupt halt. Rockies 2 Cubs 1 in 13 innings. 2.) I’ve suffered a nasty brush with poison ivy. Not as disfiguring as others have suffered from what I hear, but its constant itchiness has messed badly with my sleep and skin. Despite a couple of steroid treatments, I do have a couple of raw patches that on sight can clear a room. 3.) General malaise from being too busy at my day job (there is no compensation in blogging). Writing is more of a habit or a practice than anything else and once you fall out of it, it takes maximum effort to get “back to the gym.”
Notes on Viet Thanh Nguyen’s – The Sympathizer (2016)
The book came on my radar via Believer magazine. I have been a subscriber reading this McSweeney’s publication for over a decade and I have all the issues dating back to 2008 even though sometimes the magazine has gone on hiatus and magazine subscription management has been questionable. McSweeney’s has introduced me to new writers and thinkers such as Rebecca Solnit..
In the June/July 2018 issue, the editors included a pullout pamphlet featuring a conversation between Paul Beatty and Viet Thanh Nguyen. Beatty is the author of The Sellout, an important satirical novel about race which I thoroughly appreciated on several levels and Viet Thanh Nguyen wrote The Sympathizer, a novel where the main character is a Viet Cong sympathizer who is embedded into South Vietnamese/American regime. Nguyen's narrator not only gives a vivid account of leaving Vietnam during the last days before the fall of Saigon, but he also offers biting commentary on America’s attempt to sweep its defeat and the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees under the rug. Both books are cutting, emotional, funny and relevant. It underscores that we have not come very far on attitudes towards immigration and assimilation in America. Here are my indecipherable reading notes that I kept on the back of a retro Vietnamese political postcard.