Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam

Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam By Andrew X. Pham, Catfish and Mandala A Two Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam Catfish and Mandala is the story of an American odyssey a solo bicycle voyage around the Pacific Rim to Vietnam made by a young Vietnamese American man in pursuit of both his adopted homeland and his
  • Title: Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam
  • Author: Andrew X. Pham
  • ISBN: 9780312267179
  • Page: 355
  • Format: Paperback
  • Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam By Andrew X. Pham, Catfish and Mandala is the story of an American odyssey a solo bicycle voyage around the Pacific Rim to Vietnam made by a young Vietnamese American man in pursuit of both his adopted homeland and his forsaken fatherland Andrew X Pham was born in Vietnam and raised in California His father had been a POW of the Vietcong his family came to America as boat people FolloCatfish and Mandala is the story of an American odyssey a solo bicycle voyage around the Pacific Rim to Vietnam made by a young Vietnamese American man in pursuit of both his adopted homeland and his forsaken fatherland Andrew X Pham was born in Vietnam and raised in California His father had been a POW of the Vietcong his family came to America as boat people Following the suicide of his sister, Pham quit his job, sold all of his possessions, and embarked on a year long bicycle journey that took him through the Mexican desert, around a thousand mile loop from Narita to Kyoto in Japan and, after five months and 2,357 miles, to Saigon, where he finds nothing familiar in the bombed out darkness In Vietnam, he s taken for Japanese or Korean by his countrymen, except, of course, by his relatives, who doubt that as a Vietnamese he has the stamina to complete his journey Only Westerners can do it and in the United States he s considered anything but American A vibrant, picaresque memoir written with narrative flair and an eye opening sense of adventure, Catfish and Mandala is an unforgettable search for cultural identity.
    Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam By Andrew X. Pham,
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      Published :2019-09-11T01:58:18+00:00

    About "Andrew X. Pham"

    1. Andrew X. Pham

      writer, artist, athlete, lover of food, watcher of sunsets, engineer, distracted cyclist, ocean swimmer, teacher, student, ultralight pilot, walker of deserted beaches, planter of rice, occasional madman, admirer of beauty, believer of karma, perennial tourist, reader of souls, grinning fool, dreamer, wild at heart

    629 thoughts on “Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam”

    1. Andrew X Pham sCatfish and Mandala A Two Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnamtells the story of Andrew Pham, a young Vietnamese American man who travels to his hometown in search of finding himself due to a conflict between his adoptive land and his native land The book is based on a memoir that uses flashbacks during the war, when Pham s family were imprisoned in Vietnam However, escaping from Vietnam by boat, the family was able to start a new life in America In search of [...]


    2. Vietnamese American Andrew Pham writes about his search for cultural identity in a book that is both a memoir and a biking travelogue He remembers the fall of Saigon, his father s imprisonment in a communist reeducation camp, and the family s escape from Vietnam in a leaky fishing boat when he was a ten year old After a stay in an Indonesian refugee camp, the family came to the United States and eventually settled in California Although he recognizes the sacrifices made by his parents, he also r [...]


    3. History is a nightmare from which Andrew X Pham is trying to awake I have a variety of odd and vague unappealing habits One of them is reading one star reviews on In the case of this book, one review of this book reads, in its entirety, Just because you go on a cool vacation doesn t mean you have to write a book about it Call me all hyper sensitive, but that seems just a smidge unfair I mean, as a child, the guy endures the danger and chaos of the lurching end of a war, his father is imprisoned [...]


    4. This book created a clear image of post war Vietnam, but while I enjoyed following Pham s travels, I never became truly engaged with the book Although the author constantly reiterated his deep and troubling ambivalence about his native land, his struggle failed to grab my heart The book contained some scenes that were theoretically poignant and wrenching, but I just didn t think Pham s writing was strong enough to break through the screen of journalistic observation and actually convey authentic [...]


    5. We have a lot of work to do on race in America I m exhausted just thinking about it, but as a white as you can get without bleach American I have to at least show up to read books like these Because Americans of color and other ethnicities have to live through the brutality of it every day of their lives.



    6. This was a moving and engaging memoir Mr Pham is very skilled at vivid description and is careful not to over sentimentalize the often deeply personal subject matter He is honest about his family and about his own feelings in a way that is highly admirable His quest to explore his own identity is something that many people can relate to Although his situation is rather specific, the book deals with themes that are fairly universal I would strongly recommend this title to anyone that enjoys being [...]


    7. I loved this book Found it in a hotel in Hanoi, it was the perfect book to read as I returned home and reflected on our trip Pham captures the rawness, beauty, chaos, and striving that characterized my brief visit better than I ever could His own story is remarkable escaped Vietnam with his family after the war, boat nearly sank, refugee in America, growing up in a rough neighborhood, family drama and trauma, and of course his journeys peddling through mexico, the Pacific coast of the us, and fi [...]


    8. This book was slow to grow on me Pham s style of writing seemed choppy at first it jumped points in time quickly, without much in the way of description But, as you get into the book, and, of course, when he gets to Vietnam, the story really comes to life This may simply be because of my own time spent in Vietnam a couple of years ago His sparse descriptions of life in Saigon and Hanoi evoked my own memories of time spent in those cities In the end, I came to enjoy his quick descriptions and cho [...]


    9. I found this memoir last week while browsing in a used bookstore I m ashamed to say this was my first book about the Vietnam War from the perspective of a Vietnamese Pham s is the story of a refugee s return to Vietnam in the early 1990s, shortly after the country became open to tourists Pham, as a young man in his 20s, takes a bike trip around the country hoping to gain insight into his past and to gain perspective on what he has come to view as the dysfunction that is his family From the first [...]


    10. Vietnam seems to be calling me recently The graphic novel of Artemis Fowl startles me with its opening depiction of the central market in Saigon A student researches Nixon s presidency and the fall of Saigon I read Tree of Smoke, and go to the internet to pull up maps, pictures and stories of Saigon, its surroundings, and the larger Mekong delta region, to look at the places I saw so many years ago 1969 1970 I am drawn into this work, on a summer reading list for another student Pham seamlessly [...]


    11. Catfish and Mandala is a lovely book I read it slowly so it wouldn t end From the first page, I was engrossed in the story of one man s attempt to make sense of his past and his present by integrating the two parts with a return trip to Vietnam, twenty years after his family fled A gifted storyteller, Pham describes unflinchingly the details of his childhood in Vietnam, family life in a traditional Vietnamese family, the struggles of being an immigrant in southern California and the poverty and [...]


    12. andrew pham is a really great writer i honestly wasn t expecting his writing to be as good as it was i also didn t realize how multifaceted the story would be, i kind of just assumed it would strictly be about the experience of biking through vietnam it actually had a lot of really interesting and emotional family history intertwined with the trip itself a very honest account of his feelings about being vietnamese american being around vietnamese people the story perfectly culminated in a really [...]


    13. overall a very well written book that takes you through Andrew Pham s journey for self identity, rediscovering his past all the while trying to come to grips with his life and family in the US The chapters alternate between his past and present, which keeps you hooked His descriptions and adventures through Vietnam are very vivid and has even helped me understand the culture and etiquette of Vietnam thoroughly, I highly recommend it.


    14. And eats another review sigh Short version an excellent account of the author s exploration of what it means to be both Vietnamese and American Pham s quest to find himself reveals enormous insight into both Vietnamese and American culture it helps that he is an excellent writer and pays no heed to political correctness there is no sugarcoating in Catfish and Mandala.This this is what travel writing should be.


    15. Many people, especially in their 20s, embark on long treks across various regions of the world in search of something adventure home revelation identity In the case of Andrew Pham, his trip by bicycle across Vietnam involves all of the above His family escaped from Vietnam on a rickety boat after the fall of Saigon, and, after several years in a refugee camp in Indonesia, immigrated to the United States Twenty odd years later, Andrew returns to Vietnam, now an adult on his own and as not only a [...]


    16. 3.5 stars Catfish and Mandala is a travelogue of Andrew Pham s cycling trip through Vietnam and serves as a launching pad for excavating his family s past Because he s Vietnamese American, he gets treated with resentment from the Vietnamese who stayed but because he is also a partial native, he gains access to a part of Vietnam that most Western tourists wouldn t get to witness Like many Asian American stories, Pham is searching for home, a place where he doesn t feel like an outsider He speaks [...]


    17. I have a thing against being a tourist I like moving to new places, but I want to actually live there, not just see the surface of other people s lives from the outside looking in Reading this book had me thinking about some of the limitations of that approach how impossible it can be to become a local.Our author takes a bicycle trip up the Western coast of the USA, through Japan, and then around Vietnam Descriptions of his journey are interspersed with memories of his early childhood in Vietnam [...]


    18. Wow, this was a really incredible book Pham has a tight narrative that jumps timelines between the present, his childhood in Vietnam, and then his early life in the United States While his main theme is, in my opinion, about the disconnect between the young immigrant and his homeland, he also dealt well with family relationships, particularly Vietnamese, immigrants and their new home, the spectacle of poverty, and the relations between the Vietnamese and Americans There were many different times [...]


    19. This book is an exploration of the delusional idea that if we can just get away to someplace exotic, we will discover our true selves and make sense of our lives Andrew Pham travels to Vietnam which he and his family escaped around the time of the Vietnam War tours the country by bicycle, and leaves with an upset stomach and absolutely no understanding of the Vietnamese people In fact, I would go so far as to say that he hates them.This fact wouldn t sway my feelings about the book one way or th [...]


    20. After months of guilt over not making better progress in this book, I m calling it quits on Catfish and Mandala There are two stories in this book, and like a lot of books with two story lines, one is a great read and the other feels like a slog through the mud In Catfish and Mandala , there is a story about the book s author, a self centered young adult going on a rebel s journey to his homeland of Vietnam This story was far too bitter and narcissistic to be enjoyable The author really needs to [...]


    21. This book was left to me by a friend who was passing through Singapore in early 2008 I started the book about that time but only just completed it.Not that it was unreadable or anything like that In fact, I enjoyed it Another friend who visited me finished the book in a day It s just that the story never developed a tempo pace that propelled me forward.It s a book about identity and history, about self, about family and all the things we don t say but wish was understood The book is also a trave [...]


    22. More memoir than travelogue, the author struggles with the burdens of being an immigrant to America a refugee from Vietnam , a violent old fashioned and tormented father who survived the reeducation camps , a transgendered sister who killed himself, and two gay brothers This is not a happy, lighthearted tromp to an idyllic foreign country described by a wide eyed American tourist The family history and personal memoirs are interwoven with the tale of his soul searching bicycling trip through mod [...]


    23. This book added fuel to a fire I had to bike across Vietnam Someday, when I m gray However Catfish and Mandala is than cultural travelogue Mr Pham so eloquently ponders the complicated experience of never quite finding home An immigrant to the United States when he was a child, a trip to his parents homeland was meant to be a reconnection with his roots Sadly, a need for belonging felt keenly during his transplanted American childhood is never fully satisfied upon his return to Vietnam In my t [...]


    24. This was another book I read to prepare for my trip to Vietnam I don t think my experience will be anything like Pham s since he is a Viet kieu a Vietnamese who lives in the United States and I am a white American Also I don t plan to ride a bike from Hanoi south.However, this book did make me think about the tourist experience Of course, I bring my own biases to my trip So I need to stay aware of those biases and try not to let them influence my views of the Vietnamese people too much I want to [...]


    25. Andrew Pham has written an intensely honest book about his life in both Vietnam where he was born, and in the United States of America to where he and his family migrated to in the 1980s Having graduated and worked as an engineer he decides to leave everything behind and commence a bicycle trip on the west coast of USA and from there fly to Asia, and then to Vietnam and travel the length of his country of origin on his bike He relies on his personal skills to survive with little money, but it is [...]


    26. It was like reading about my own family in so many ways I was disturbed at how accurately he portrayed the experience of a Vietnamese family and the conflicted childhood of their Vietnamese American children This author has never met me or my family but I instantly understood what he was describing, and I instantly understood why people interacted with him in their own way His mother, father, girlfriends, local Vietnamese, Vietnamese shop owners, airport guards, tourists, etc I know that Mr Pham [...]


    27. Non fiction Memoir, travelogue, and history Andrew X Pham leaves his life in the US to ride his bicycle through Vietnam, the country where he was born, the country that put his father into a labor camp, the country that forced his family to flee to America when he was ten years old.This took me a while to read because it was a difficult book Not difficult to read it was almost too easy to read, Pham s humor and lyricism made his ride through Vietnam so accessible I could feel its beauty as easil [...]


    28. A gritty bike journey through the US West coast, Japan and finally, Vietnam An Andrew bikes through all these places in search of himself, even though he is often lost on his introspective journey than when he began Interspersed with the tale of his travels are flashes to the past when he was a child in Vietnam before, during, and after the war, and as an immigrant in the US, ending up in Los Angeles.An has a lot of self hate, and he seems to be searching for a way to like himself if he can onl [...]


    29. I thought this was a beautiful composition of self discovery Catfish and Mandala is a literary journalism piece about Vietnamese land as it relates to personal and familial history Pham writes this piece of creative non fiction is first person, beginning with his decision to leave his engineering job in California to take a bike riding adventure through Vietnam, uncovering pieces of a history he fled after the Vietnam War Along the way, Pham discovers what it means to be of two lands Vietnamese [...]


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