Tom MacWright

I read On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong on


One of principles of jazz is that you need to carefully choose when not to play. There should be many moments when you are not playing, when the music gets a chance to breathe, when the audience might be interpolating what you would be playing in a way that makes them more involved in the tune.

Vuong always plays. His writing is often beautiful, but he does pedal-to-the-metal introspection and interpretation and metaphor and profundity. Always. Including lots of moments that just aren’t that profound.

It has some beautiful lines, but then so many lines that are just okay, or feel like they’re over-extracting meaning. Like for me, the reader, there were no chances to interpret or to feel because the interpretation and the feeling was already spelled out in detail.

So it felt flat to me, like the dynamics were missing, everything too loud.