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Monday, May 26, 2014

Review of "Catfish and Mandala": A boring and self-absorbed journey

After reading the novel Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham, I honestly will not be recommending it to anyone. I thought it terribly boring and racially stereotypical. I found myself struggling to pick it up and read when normally I am quite an active reader (I often wanted to read another book instead). Although I agree with certain values found in the novel, I struggled with others. I felt as though the only refreshing message was that your past doesn't dictate your identity, you do.
I really struggled to latch on to this story on an emotional level as Pham's writing did not pull me in thus making me feel unattached to the characters I so desperately wanted to feel for. Maybe I'm just a lazy reader, but I feel as though it is the author’s job to make me a part of the book, not my own. It was hard to feel sad about his sister Chi's death when all he kept talking about was how sore his muscles were from riding his bycicle and how sorry he felt for himself and the rest of Vietnam while he drank himself silly.
When He described the Vietnamese as a sad and wanting people, it made me think about his point of view. In this moment he feels as though he has the right to say these things about the Vietnamese because it is not a stereotype since it is of his own people. The truth is, is that he did not live in Vietnam the way these people did and how even though he feels connected to them he will never be one of them and cannot find himself with them. I did not enjoy this read and most of what it said. I just found it sad and boring.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Conner's reflection

Over the course of a couple months I have learned a lot about Vietnam. This all started because I read the book Catfish and Mandala by Andrew x Pham. I thought that the book was good for many reasons. The first reason was because it was about finding your self. Andrew biked through the Mexican desert and he biked around all of Vietnam. This is not something that any one can do and I find it amazing that he did that to find him self. Most people wouldn't go out of there way to do this. I also enjoyed the book because Andrew had to accept who he was and who everyone else was. It was sad on what happened to his sister and how they got driven apart because he couldn't accept who she wanted to be and this led to Andrew biking around Vietnam. I thought that over all the book was very good. And reading a book that took place in Vietnam I started to research more about Vietnam. In researching about Vietnam I learned that they are in a big fight with China. I didn't know that there were riots in Vietnam about factories and how there were people dying because of this. There is also a debate about China putting an oil rig in Vietnamese water. I wouldn't of learned about any of this if I didn't read this book. I thought that the book was very good and that everyone should read it and I also think that people should read the news now and then because most people don't know about whats going on in other countries.

Catfish and Mandala Review

The fantastic novel, Catfish and Mandala, is about the journey of Andrew X. Pham and his search for his cultural identity. This novel is a true story of the author's life.  His actual Journey initiated when he was in Phan Thiet, Vietnam. He spent most of his life in the United States but never could forget about where he really came from and memories he had from his real home town. So Andrew chooses to go back to Vietnam to search for his lost memoirs, and his cultural identity.

 This was a moving and engaging memoir. Andrew 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 entertained while having your own judgments logically challenged. On a scale of 1-10, I would give this novel a 8.5. Seriously, check this book out!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Its Sushi Time!

This sushi recipe represents Andrews travel in Japan. He talks about how he always wanted to visit Japan as a child. During his time in this colorful country, Andrew finds it hard to thrive in the culture and language and ends up following an old man through the streets on his bike in search for a place to stay. When the man eventually loses Andrew, he can't find his way out of the airport and sets up his tent on the ground. He wakes up to find he has crashed on a construction site parking lot! As Andrew struggles to manuever Japan, we thought this would be the perfect Japanese classic to enjoy. Its super fun to make and eat!! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pollution from Dairy Farm in Vietnam Forces Families to Relocate

             In the past year, about 700 families in central Nghe An Province, Vietnam, have been evacuated from their homes due to pollution. These poor families have been neighboring a dairy farm that has been polluting heavily. A resident living near the farm sent a letter to the CEO of the dairy company accusing them of polluting the local water source. The letter also claimed that a horrible smell emanated from the factory, which affected local residents. This pollution also resulted in central Nghe An Province being infested with flies and mosquito. 
            If I were in this situation, I would stand up and confront the company-rather than righting a letter explaining the problems. What this dairy company is doing is obviously not just and must be acted upon. If you were in the same situation as these 700 families, what would you do? Please leave a comment!

Image of a local resident in front of cow sewage

If your craving something creamy, and warm, then this is something to invest your time in. Yes, it takes a while to make, but it is totally worth your time. Let us know what you think of this French Onion Soup recipe!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mexican Rice!

The first place Andrew visits is the Mexican desert. During his travels, he encounters a lonely man named Tyle. Tyle feels remorse for the time he had spent fighting in the Vietnam war. Andrew feels nothing from this confession because he doesnt feel atatched to his home town. This is when he decides to journey to Vietnam. This is a quick and easy dish that is great for beginners and includes delicious flavors that bring life to the culture of Mexico!!