Pop Song

Catapult. May 2021. 288p. ISBN 9781646220267. $26. MEMOIR
Pham’s memoir is about many things—art and relationships, travel and self-awareness. However, while it touches on a variety of compelling subjects, it does so in a jumbled way that sometimes makes for a chaotic read. The author segues back and forth between her life—including formative travel experiences, her social life, and her education—and a second-person narrative addressing an unnamed romantic partner. Pham writes with a great deal of passion, which is one of the work’s strengths. However, the transitions can be jarring and often interrupt the flow of the book. Musings on art run throughout, but again without much structure. There are few narrative clues to guide readers and keep their attention. While individual sections of the book are interesting and memorable, the complete picture isn’t as gratifying.
VERDICT Though it doesn’t always come together as a whole, Pham’s work features a promising voice. Readers with a strong interest in the visual arts will likely get the most out of this book, especially where Pham writes about finding meaning in the work of artists like Agnes Martin and James Turrell; and Gen Z and younger millennial readers might find Pham’s experiences and relationship dynamics to be particularly relatable.
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