Alphabet challenge: v, x, y, z

Yeah, I know it's a bit out of order.


Vuong, Ocean- On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Xiao Bai- French Concession

Yu, Charles- Interior Chinatown

Zinna, Diane- The All-night Sun


I had to stop reading On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous. I really tried. I made myself read to about halfway through. I was interested in the book pretty well at the beginning, but it was so sad. Then the main character was getting into his teenage years and it just kept on being so sad, and it was written as a letter from the adult narrator to his mother. I wanted to feel more of an interest, and I didn't hate it, but whenever I picked it up to read it, I had to force myself to read five or six pages. It was like pulling teeth for me.


I also DNF'd French Concession. I was afraid at first that it would be too confusing; I'm tired, and sometimes when I get home from work lately, I feel like someone wrung out my brain, so when I picked this book up and remembered that the description said something about "espionage", my brain started to smoke and whine. But I tried it. I just didn't like how the male characters thought about and talked about the female characters. I don't think that it was a sexist book- although I didn't finish it- but I think that many of the characters were sexist. It was set in the 1930s, so it would probably have seemed unrealistic if they weren't.


Interior Chinatown- It's weird for me to get a bit lost in a book, but I really didn't know what was going on sometimes in this. But it is interesting. I think that part of the confusion is just that I'm kind of stressed out. I should probably be reading something super-easy. This book won a Big Important Award and was on lots of best books lists last year, and I was curious. It's writing about Asian-American characters as if they're typecast characters in a script. It lays some stereotypes bare. I expected that going in, but I didn't expect to occasionally get lost. But there was a scene in which two characters are fighting (the main character in the book is also a character in the script-see? confusing) and the MC says "are you calling me a model minority?" And I would have forgiven alot more confusion for that line. There's another book by the author, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, that I'd like to try someday. Might be more in my reading range.


The All-night Sun- I liked this really well for the first three-quarters of it and then I started skimming. I'd still recommend it. I like books with interesting settings, and part of this takes place in Sweden around midsummer. It's one of those books in which the narrator is always talking about The Thing That Happened and they won't tell you what it was until the end, and that usually drives me nuts, but a few of the main characters were interesting. I did want to shake the narrator though. She'd been depressed for ten years, since her parents died in an accident when she was eighteen and left her completely alone in the world, so I didn't hate her, but she couldn't make a healthy decision to save her life. I was hissing "go to a therapist" at the book in the same way that you hiss "don't go into the basement, moron!" to people in horror movies. The other main character's name is Siri, which weirded me out at first, but I got used to it.


This completes my 2021 Alphabet reading challenge. I had to let myself DNF a few books, but I'm still pleased with it. I wanted to go all over the fiction section in the library and find some authors I'd never read, and I'm pretty sure that these were all new. All the titles were new, and that's good for me, since I like to re-read.


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