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Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Reader's Diary #2030 - Souvankham Thammavongsa: How to Pronounce Knife


Winner of, and nominated for, a bunch of literary awards, Souvankham Thammavongsa's short story collection How to Pronounce Knife was nowhere near as pretentious as I thought it might be.

It's downright funny at times and always entertaining, even though thematically there's a lot of darkness and pain. There are also these brief, beautifully poignant insights that snuck up on me.

It's mostly about immigrants, or 2nd generation Canadians, from Laos. Those cultural tidbits were fascinating and educational, but I was able to relate to the lower/middle class, blue-collar world. Some of the specifics were different, yet I grew up in that world of hard labour.

My favourite in the collection was "Randy Travis." Trying not to give anything away, never would I have predicted that someone becoming a great singer could be perceived as a tragedy.

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