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October BOTM Meeting Recap

Discussion topics, relevant themes & media recommendations to wrap up (or kickstart) your reading of Phuc Tran's Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock and the Fight to Fit in.

ID: (From left to right) Hotties Lily, Ben, Mackie, Mia and Sophie pose with the book of the month in Kafe Kerouac.

Thank you, Hotties, for an excellent October book club meeting! This meeting was incredibly special for a number of reasons: we celebrated Hardcover Hotties’ first birthday and Sigh, Gone author Phuc Tran celebrated with us over Zoom as we concluded our time with our October book of the month. As expected, our time with Phuc was incredibly enriching – he offered us a number of tidbits of life advice, insights into the themes that he explored in the book and several media recommendations that he believed to be crucial to his own coming-of-age.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to read Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock and the Fight to Fit In by Phuc Tran, I urge you to do so. Sigh, Gone is for everyone – few can sufficiently and seamlessly tie together such a multitude of themes, but Phuc has proven himself capable. Through your reading, feel free to take a look at the themes and guiding questions below to get you thinking, the media recommendations to deepen your understanding of the topics at hand, or the Zoom meeting recording to relive the magic of book club from the comfort of your home.


Discussion Topics & Relevant Themes

The Universality of Literature
  • With grace and care, Phuc connected the complexities of his own experiences to the literature that he engaged with throughout his coming-of-age in a way that is conversational, honest, vulnerable and approachable

  • If addressed with an open mind and heart, literary themes can bring a sense of universality to personal experience

Intergenerational Trauma
  • “To the whole world you might be one person; to one person you might be the whole world.”

  • Phuc discussed the ways in which his brother, Lou, looked to him as a father figure

  • Parenting – thoughtful versus reactionary

  • How does evaluating our own childhoods and parent relationships influence the way we strive to support and cultivate future relationships?

  • Violence

  • How do unaddressed pains from our pasts bear the risk of inflicting traumatic experiences on those around us?

  • Book connection: All About Love by bell hooks

  • Think about the ways in which educational values or access to education have the potential to change through the process of immigration

  • Phuc’s fathers having been discouraged from pursuing law in the US as he did in Vietnam

  • Struggles specific to First Generation persons

  • Phuc found solace and a sense of community and wholeness from the academic validation gained from his high school courses

The “Grateful Migrant”
  • Think about Phuc’s father and his love for the families who supported his transition to the US

  • Book connection: The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicenco

  • How does language build our worldviews?

  • Phuc’s usage of “vietnamesed”

  • Sprechen sie deutsch? translates directly to Can you German?

  • In Vietnamese, where are you from? translates to what side of the water are you from?

Growing Up
  • Identity – the fractioning of identity as we move between spaces with differing expectations; even still, we contain multitudes (“I am simply me.”)

  • To you, what does it mean to be who you want to be? What does it mean to allow yourself to be who you are?

  • What does it mean to be punk?

  • Friendship – community and the childish purity of friendship can define the ways in which we are seen and supported

  • How are we to understand the value of friendship, the sheer greatness of our life-giving relationships while we are in the moment?

The Power of Storytelling
  • “The most successful pieces of writing contain the stories that only you can tell.”

  • Storytelling is the integration of emotion and experience

  • Book connection: Rising Strong by Brene Brown

  • Resist reactionary thinking when reflecting on our own experiences – life is complicated

Media Recommendations

Standing alone Eager to just Believe it's good enough to be what You really are But in your heart, uncertainty forever lies And you'll always be Somewhere on the outside

Meeting Recording


Thanks for a great meeting, as always! :)

Keep your eyes peeled for our November book of the month announcement and meeting updates ...

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