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The author, a white man who served in Vietnam, was the perfect person to read these wonderful stories. He pronounces everything properly and moves along in a comfortable way. I had recently listened to a novel about a stolen painting -- 32 hours of the main character being drunk or stoned. When the next day it won the Pullitzer Prize, I was ready to scream in the street! This book, however, is so deserving! This writing is so rich. Most of the stories are told from the viewpoint of a Vietnamese person,man or woman, elderly or younger, usually a Vietnamese who came to the U.S. -- usually Lake Charles, Louisiana -- to settle. Not all the stories are about war at all. Some are about family life, co-workers, romance, trying to fit the old teachings and ideals into the new American framework.
I thought I already knew too much about Vietnam. I have a half-Vietnamese step-daughter who un-friended me on FaceBook, who got into serious drugs, whose daughter photographed her pregnant belly in the bathroom to show all of FaceBook, etc. etc. As the third wife, I listened to sickening stories of cutting down our tortured soldiers in the jungle, the naughty little lizard who uses the F-word. I've been screamed at by a Vietnamese-American boss one-third my age. . . . Americans tend to assume that brown people who don't understand English probably don't have much to say anyway. Butler shows how wrong this is as he paints the most subtle thoughts of his sweet and interesting characters.
These stories call for more than one listen -- and not more than two stories at a sitting! They're pungent! And sometimes funny. Among my favorites was the sleepy girl at the restaurant and Mr. Cohen. I also loved the ending of the one about bringing grandpa home from the airport, how the family prepared a feast and was so excited to have this dear old man come to live with them after many years of separation. How could the husband offer some kind of healing to his wife? Listen and see! These stories are a treasure. Thank you, Mr. Butler!
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
I loved this book. I read and re-read and listened to this book several times. it reminded me of my Vietnamese-ness. The author spent several years in Vietnam and got to know the Vietnamese and their culture in depth, and it showed in the richness of the language that being conveyed...