Not Here

Hieu Minh Nguyen

Finished Reading:
May 4, 2019

Edition Publisher:
Coffee House Press

Edition Release:
Apr 10, 2018

Purchase Search via DuckDuckGo:
ISBN 9781566895095

Highlights & Annotations

How did I find it? Brit Marling’s instagram

“I’m always surprised how efficiently regret can build a machine, a geared thing charging through the narrow halls of your memory” (7)

“Who wouldn’t beg for a story like this? A story to point & run toward when asked to explain every decision you’ve ever made regarding love. A story to blame when your hands rush toward the exit.” (8)

  • I feel like sometimes I want to use my upbringing as the ‘why’ behind a lot of present behaviours
  • I think it’s true that experiences when you were young colour so much of your adult life; that somewhere deep down there’s still that child-like part of yourself worried about events from the past

“...I will gut this distance with nostalgia, because grief can taste of sugar if you run your tongue along the right edge...” (9)

“Nguyen” in its entirety.

  • “...isn’t that how we’re taught to survive? Hide? Or obediently follow the path paved by a white man’s desire?” (13)
    • re: living between cultures
  • “For years I craved the red
    Shock of her anger

    What do you do with tenderness
    When all you expect is fury?” (14)

“Attending the Party” in its entirety.

“To justify another month of solitude
I tell myself, despite
My instinct to stay inside
It’ll be good to exhaust myself
Of the world.
The yellow house on Portland Avenue
I kick the slush from my boots
Ascending the empty porch.
Even if I’m wrong
& the light beyond
The door is alight to nowhere
I can still say I tried, at least
For a moment, to live
Outside the warm parameters
Of my loneliness. I can’t stop thinking
Of the old man
Who’d salt & shovel
His walk, clean & precise
Every morning & how the neighbours
Growing suspicious
Of the jagged terrain
Of his driveway, discovered
Weeks later, he’d passed away
In his sleep.
But here is a world 
Where the people I love gather
In small rooms with not enough chairs.
How lucky I am
To be missed
By those who have run out
Of ways to hold me?
& isn’t that what I always wanted?
To keep something perfect
Long enough for everyone to notice
When I’m gone.”

Gah, just all the feels while reading this collection.