04 January 2013

back to vietnam

After reading The Lotus Eaters, Kalie lent me The Beauty of Humanity Movement which is a gorgeous book that leaves you emotionally stirred and oddly hungry. Actually, the hunger is not too odd since the protagonist is dedicated to pho. I read it over Christmas break while I was in Penticton and I bet you can guess what our first meal back in Vancouver was. 

Anyway, I strongly recommend this book and I do not want to give anything away but I will try to set the tone.

Hung is a man governed by such principles rather than any laws, particularly those ones keenly enforced by the police that are of greatest inconvenience to him and those he serves. When the officers come to ticket him for trespassing or operating without a licence after he has had the peace of setting up shop in the same location for a few consecutive days, his customers will be forced to run off clutching their bowls, sloshing broth against their freshly pressed shirts, losing noodles to the pavement, jumping abroad their motorbikes and lurching into the day. 
Hung's crime is the same every day, but sometimes the police are in more of a mood to arrest a man than fine him. 

Hung recognizes each man by the state of his hands: the grease moons under the nails that mark a mechanic, the calluses of one who works a lather, the chewed nails of a student writing exams. 

Maggie found herself in a world of teenagers, a generation fuelled by hopes and hormones, people who had no interest in being dragged back to the past. They face forward, the future, the West. The past is abandoned: the pain of it, perhaps; the shame of it. It's old men Maggie must turn to now, old men with their ailing, fading memories and their fears. 

[Her mother] still looked elegant stripped of her makeup, just less able to conceal the disappointment that showed in the lines around her mouth. 
Every time Maggie looks in the mirror she fears seeing evidence of that same disappointment. It is both a surprise and a relief to see her father's eyes reflected back at her. A glow of obsidian. Animated and alive.

Quotes from The Beauty of Humanity by Camilla Gibb (Toronto: Anchor Canada, 2011). 

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