Sigh, Gone

Sigh, Gone

A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In

eBook - 2020
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For anyone who has ever felt like they don't belong, Sigh, Gone shares an irreverent, funny, and moving tale of displacement and assimilation woven together with poignant themes from beloved works of classic literature.

In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Phuc Tran immigrates to America along with his family. By sheer chance they land in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a small town where the Trans struggle to assimilate into their new life. In this coming-of-age memoir told through the themes of great books such as The Metamorphosis, The Scarlet Letter, The Iliad, and more, Tran navigates the push and pull of finding and accepting himself despite the challenges of immigration, feelings of isolation, and teenage rebellion, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations set by his immigrant parents.

Appealing to fans of coming-of-age memoirs such as Fresh Off the Boat, Running with Scissors, or tales of assimilation like Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Displaced and The Refugees, Sigh, Gone explores one man's bewildering experiences of abuse, racism, and tragedy and reveals redemption and connection in books and punk rock. Against the hairspray-and-synthesizer backdrop of the '80s, he finds solace and kinship in the wisdom of classic literature, and in the subculture of punk rock, he finds affirmation and echoes of his disaffection. In his journey for self-discovery Tran ultimately finds refuge and inspiration in the art that shapes—and ultimately saves—him.


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Jan 12, 2021

This was an enjoyable and entertaining American immigrant story. I really identified with the rebellious nature of someone who isn’t afraid to let their intelligence shine even in a group of punk teenagers. I guess I’m a sucker for a coming of age story with a triumphant ending but it just makes me feel good!

IndyPL_SteveB Aug 03, 2020

An entertaining, thoughtful, funny, and painful memoir of growing up as a Vietnamese immigrant in small town Pennsylvania. It’s one of the best memoirs I have ever read. It also has a lot of profanity and a first sex scene that is both uncomfortable and undoubtedly accurate. It somehow all adds up to honest and brilliant.

Tran starts as a comic book reader, finding a connection in outcast super-heroes. Eventually he becomes a punk rock rebel and then surprises himself by turning into a super-reader and thinker. His goal is to get out of the parochial, unconsciously racist town – and to get away from his own narrow-minded, sometimes wildly violent father. (One of those encounters is particularly harrowing.)

One unique aspect of the memoir is how Tran organizes each chapter through the different classic books he read in high school and how he translated their lessons to his own life. Some of these connections are quite surprising and eye-opening. For instance, he interprets Kafka’s *The Metamorphosis* as a story about the changes of adolescence and the way a family can treat the teenager like a giant insect.

I am not an immigrant and I didn’t grow up in Pennsylvania in the 1980s. Yet, I recognized everything he was going through, trying to navigate the conflicting desires we all have – how much do we need to fit in versus how much we need to be our individual selves?

Jul 11, 2020

An enlightening autobiography about growing up in America as a Vietnamese immigrant who arrived as a child just as the Vietnam War ended. The author's ability to recognize that he could "choose" how to be an outsider via skateboarding and finding his own crew of lovers of punk rock is humorous, brave and fun to read. His thought that knowing literature was also a way to "be American" and enhance his chances for fitting in is also enlightening as you end up getting book reviews of some classics that one may not have revisited since high school, if ever and that is an added bonus, not to mention having to visit the dictionary for a few words that I did not know or recall. (Since his does teach Latin, that is also understandable.) Meanwhile, reading this book during Black Lives Matter protests in the midst of a pandemic added some personal stress as the author takes on the discussion of racism, in his own head and in his experiences, and, likewise, the reader does so too. It is entertaining throughout, even during difficult scenes in his life and the author, while using a light touch, delves into a timely and difficult topic with joy and hope and in an All-American way. Highly recommended.

Jun 06, 2020

An engaging, insightful, often funny of growing up Vietnamese-American in rural Pennsylvania. Tran struggles to live up to his parent's expectations, fights against racism and stereotypes, and finds meaning in punk rock, great literature, and skateboarding. I'd also recommend "Fresh Off the Boat" and "Dear Girls" for more on the Asian-American experience.

May 31, 2020

My Hungarian grandmother would have liked this one - she kept a stack of biographies next to her chair. I prefer mysteries, but this takes me back to my mom and uncle (born in Hungary) and my grandparents' bifurcated experience navigating a new world with their children as translators.


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