Pulitzer Book Club Inclusion Guide
"A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain" by Robert Olen Butler
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Robert Olen Butler speaks Vietnamese fluently learned about Vietnamese culture during his military counterintelligence work in Saigon and the Vietnamese countryside during the Vietnam war. Butler taught creative writing in southern Louisiana where the thriving Vietnamese expatriate community and wetlands and rice paddies reminded him of his time in Vietnam.
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Featured Reader Wanted!
– Share your key take-away about inclusion in this book in a sentence or two.
– Write a paragraph or two (up to 250 words) to describe your thoughts on exclusion/inclusion in the book, why you related or did not connect with the book, and why you think reading, inclusion and dialog about inclusion matter.
– Identify the name and website address of a cause you support with an inclusive mission.
Title Story: Dying old Vietnamese immigrant dreams of Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh appears in a dream smelling strongly of sugar, with sugar-sticky fingers.
A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain is a collection of 15 short stories; The story “A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain,” describes the custom of the very elderly receiving visitors for formal farewells that can reveal feelings and seek understanding.
Short collection of short stories: 269 pages for entire book; just 17 pages for the title story.
Act. You know something and have a perspective that others do not.
Each Butler story is narrated by a different Vietnamese immigrant who lives in Louisiana and reveals as aspect of Vietnamese culture.
Use Maestro Escoffier’s pastry glaze fondant secrets: granulated sugar, 230 degrees, slightly oiled, moderately heated marble slab.
“His kitchen was full of such smells that you knew you had to understand everything or you would be incomplete forever.”
Swanky hotel that serves great pastry or Vietnamese restaurant.
Which people would you want to spend time with/say farewell to during your dying days?
What do you know about the history of Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh?
"London Hotel where Ho Chi Minh was a pastry whiz, Paris where Ho Chi Minh sought representation in the French Parliament, North Vietnam where Ho Chi Minh was president. Or go to a New Orleans Vietnamese neighborhood such as Versailles."
"TV/Film adaptation not found."
Check out another Butler story in “Good Scent from a Strange Mountain” or Butler’s 2016 novel “Perfume River"