Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of VietnamCatfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam by Andrew X. Pham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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 more 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 only find a reason to like the Vietnamese, he might learn to like himself. I’m not certain that ever happens, but he has a grand adventure trying.

All in all, very entertaining. I always wanted to know what would happen next and I found his ability to keep going despite his setbacks inspiring. I would have liked a bit more of an ending, but this is a memoir, so I’ll have to live with reality.

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