On my last trip to Vietnam, on the last real day of being there, I toured the War Remnants Museum. I was pretty harrowing and ….. Anyway, I ended up going to a bunch of giftshops they had set up next to some of the prison cells (a generous word. Prison Hells would be better…..again, harrowing). I bought some stamps (for me) a cup (for my sister) and some other trinkets. While leaving I noticed a bunch of English books wrapped in plastic on the outside wall of the shop. As one of the tour people accompanied me (the other being down with an illness, and the other touring the VC tunnels out in Cu Chi) mentioned that one of the books was on the recommended reading list for the trip. Silly me. I didn’t know there was a recommended reading list (maybe he got it from a guidebook–they’ve always got reading lists). He said it was a pretty good yarn and fit in well with our Exodus cycling tour. So I bought it.
I put the book under the piles of postcards I bought (meaning to keep for myself and not give away–how would I ever get such perfect shots again)–and forgot about it. It was still in the plastic seven and a half months later.
Having missed the library run a couple of weeks ago (they close on Sundays) I decided to give it a look. It was probably the right idea since I needed a bit of distance from the whole thing to give it perspective. If I tried to read it on the plane, I probably wouldn’t have gotten very far.
The story was a good one and well written. It nicely oscillated between the past and the present, as well as Vietnam and America. I was just a child when the boat people made landfall, and I do not remember anything about it. I also live far from the west coast so I have no knowledge of Canada’s reactions–I am a little nervous that we probably didn’t do enough to help settle people who were obviously fleeing something terrible. Maybe I can find a Canadian story. Please forward me any recommendations.
I definitely recommend the book. It wasn’t an easy read, but a satisfying one. That was partly because of the subject matter (family histories and family closets are difficult to reconcile) and party because of the way the book was published. The typeface or the font or the spacing (something) was rather dense and could probably only get through 20 pages a commute. They probably equalled 60 pages of some of the popular books I read, but I certainly didn’t sail through the book.
Again, any recommendations would be nice.