Reading On A Jet Plane (Vietnam Edition)

on Monday, March 10, 2014
I'm off to Vietnam next week, taking my 90 year old grandmother on what I hope will be an amazing holiday. She's super ace, adventure hungry and great fun to hang around with. Much crazy food experimentation shall ensue. And cultural immersion. And just awesomeness.

Vietnam is one of those places I've always wanted to go but never had the chance. In fact, now I think about it, I know almost nothing about the place other than its cuisine (probably my favourite) and... well... to borrow from Fawlty Towers, don't mention the war. Grandma's been (obvious joke redacted) so she's set. I, on the other hand, risk turning up and sounding like an American tourist (apologies to my American friends but, seriously, you are really annoying when you travel).

Fourteen hours. That's how long I have to fix the problem. Yep, I'm gonna learn as much as I possibly can on the plane from Melbourne. I suppose a more normal fellow would be hitting the Lonely Planet guide, studying it in great detail, planning every minute of the holiday. Screw that. I want novels. Excellent novels. That's how I'm gonna learn! Now, before you jump down my throat, yes I've read The Quiet American. Didn't love it (oh god, crucify me now!) but did read it. Alas, that pretty much completes my entire Vietnam reading experience to date. Flicking through the various lists on Goodreads and Amazon, I can't help but notice that almost every novel about the country focuses on one thing and one thing only. To that end, I've already stocked up on a few must reads: Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes (which I've been wanting to read since it came out), Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien, Dispatches by Michael Herr (yes I realise it's not a novel) and The Last Supper by Charles McCarry.

That about gets me to Singapore. I still have another three and a half hours to get to Hanoi and I want some non-war books - preferably by Vietnamese writers. Which is where you come in. Hit me up with suggestions ASAP so Grandma doesn't spend the whole week rolling her eyes at my absolute ignorance.

Please, do it pho her! (sorry)


Unknown said...

Bram, I'm a bit late to this one, but Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried and In the Lake of the Woods are masterpieces in my opinion. I hope you've enjoyed Vietnam - with or without O'Brien. (And yes, I like Cacciato, but prefer the philosophical brilliance of the other two I've mentioned.)

The Bookworm said...

Thanks Anna. I don't leave until Saturday so it's not too late. I've read In The Lake Of The Woods and quite liked it. I have a sneaking suspicion that Cacciato won't arrive in time (I've had to order it from overseas) so if it's not here by Friday I'll do The Things They Carried instead.

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