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36 mirrors

Force majeure by the truckload
by
April 2024, no. 463

36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem by Nam Le

Scribner, $26.99 hb, 67 pp

36 mirrors

Force majeure by the truckload
by
April 2024, no. 463

Even in his first publication, the seven short stories of the rightly celebrated The Boat (2008), Nam Le was perhaps always most interested in creating an aura of violent unpredictability. He withheld consistency, offered cruxes, hit the reader with a blizzard of bold plots in settings so varied as to be practically contradictory – Hiroshima, Medellin, New York City, a fishing town on the Queensland coast. Where, as in the title story, Nam Le appears to relent and writes about what may have been his own experience (he was ferried to Australia as an infant), the baby dies. He is like a package determined not to contain what it says on the disclosure form; a letter that won’t be delivered to the stated address.

36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem

36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem

by Nam Le

Scribner, $26.99 hb, 67 pp

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Comments (2)

  • Add to previous comment.... Language is a window to how we think. Ideas of repression and oppression are violent ideas. Violence is felt or experienced in the pursuit of difference.
    Posted by anne eagar
    31 March 2024
  • '36 Ways' is poetry of ideas, with poetic tools. It is about the violence of language and identity. My experience of Nam Le's poetry is very different from that of this reviewer, I see it as an opportunity to reflect on the truths within. So much of English others the other, to erase the other.
    Posted by anne eagar
    29 March 2024

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