Thursday, June 9, 2016
June 9, 2016: AmericanStudies Beach Reads: Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds
[For this year’s installment of my annual Beach Reads series, I wanted to highlight books I’m looking forward to checking out. That means I’ll have less to say about them, of course—but I hope you’ll share your thoughts on these and/or your own Beach Read recommendations for a crowd-sourced weekend post that’ll go great with suntan lotion and iced beverages!]
On a poetry collection you should pack right next to that page-turning thriller in your beach bag.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: poetry collections make good beach reading too! As I wrote in those earlier posts, I get that poetry tends (for many readers) to conjure up images of classroom recitations or explication assignments, of Shakespearean sonnets and metres with funny classical names, of required rather than pleasure reading. But the most intimate and evocative poems not only bring their own very palpable pleasures, but also make for particularly effective bursts of beach reading, brief dives into the literary in between the games of Frisbee or strolls by the water’s edge.
I don’t yet know much of anything about Ocean Vuong’s debut collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds that I didn’t read in this wonderful New York Times review, but the book sounds like it could very definitely offer those kinds of intimate and potent pleasures. I know that the Vietnam War and the refugee experience don’t exactly scream “pleasure read,” but one of my goals in these Beach Read series is to expand our conversation about what kinds of pleasures reading can give us, and the value of bringing them all with us on our vacations and escapes. Both the Ian Williams and the Langston Hughes collections I recommended in those earlier poetry posts are still worth a slot in your beach bag—and I look forward to bringing Vuong’s collection with me this time around.
Last prospective Beach Reads tomorrow,
PS. Thoughts on this book? Other Beach Reads you’d share?