Sigh Gone

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How do I nominate Sigh, Gone for Goodreads Choice Awards Best Memoir of 2020 



Memoirs are hit or miss with me. It seems like everyone and their Uncle Joe are writing memoirs these days. There seems to be no criteria for who can publish one. Everyone is special, right Everyone's unique. Well, perhaps we take this "everyone's special" business too far. Yeh, maybe you're special, but that doesn't make you interesting. It doesn't automatically qualify you as someone whose story is just so damn remarkable that people want to read about it.

It's like with other books - I don't want to read the same story over and over and over. It gets boring. If you don't have something unique to share or something deep to make me think, I'm probably not gonna be interested in your memoir. No offense; I'm just not interested.

Fortunately, Phuc Tran's memoir isn't some tedious run-of-the-mill blah-blah-blah-aren't-I-something-special memoir. His memoir is good! It's interesting and philosophical and entertaining. It's a memoir worth reading!

Now, if you're the average English speaker who is reading this, you probably pronounced his name as "Fook". Because names are so important, I want to tell you the correct way. It's "FUHp"  

If you're like me, you'll spend the entire book reminding yourself it's Fuhp and not Fook. 

However, don't worry if you don't remember. Growing up, Phuc Americanized it for everyone outside his family, so I'm sure he'll forgive you if you see it as Fook.  I don't want the pronunciation of his name to put anyone off his book because you'd be missing out on a great memoir all because you say Fook and not Fuhp and hey, tomatoes to-mah-tohs, right  (Though one's name is more important than what we call a piece of fruit, as long as you say it in your head, who's to know)

Moving along....

Fhuc immigrated to America from Viet Nam when he was 2 years old.  His family moved to a small town in Pennsylvania where Phuc and his brother were the only Asians in their school. Racism being as American as apple pie, Phuc was on the receiving end of stares and questions, slurs and fear. He struggled to leave behind his heritage and to be seen as "American".  He wondered how he could explain to his younger brother that "some people would never be able to see us as just people That we were symbols of a painful and confusing war Symbols of the refugees they saw on TV Symbols of what they were afraid of".

Young Phuc found his place in a group of punk kids and it was fun to read about their antics and to remember 80s punk culture through his experiences. 

As he gets older, Phuc finds himself in literature and with each chapter of this memoir he relates a different classic book to incidents in his life.  

The author exquisitely details his struggles living between two cultures; feeling misunderstood by everyone, especially his parents (something I think most people experience growing up); dealing with and confronting racism; and trying to find himself in a world that wants to see only a stereotype. He writes of his feelings of alienation and self-hatred, and how he came to find and accept himself. 

There was not one boring page in this book. It's one of those memoirs where you feel like the author is a friend of yours and that you're sitting in a cafe somewhere, sharing a cup of coffee and listening as he fills you in on what's been going on in his life.

Sigh, Gone is endearing and philosophical, funny and sad. A just all-around good book. I'm not male and I'm not Asian-American. I'm not straight and I didn't grow up in a bilingual household, nor any of many other things the author describes. But I could still relate to Phuc on so many levels because he describes everything so well and because underneath the trivialities, we're all human.

This is a remarkable memoir. Brilliantly written, deep, questioning, witty, enjoyable, entertaining.

Did I mention I want to nominate this for best memoir of the year  


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