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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Ticket to Childhood

Nguyen Nhat Anh

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To purchase Ticket to Childhood

Title: Ticket to Childhood
Author: Nguyen Nhat Anh
Genre: Novel
Written: 2008 (Eng. 2014)
Length: 155 pages
Original in: Vietnamese
Availability: Ticket to Childhood - US
Ticket to Childhood - UK
Ticket to Childhood - Canada
Ticket to Childhood - India
  • Vietnamese title: Cho tôi xin một vé đi tuổi thơ
  • Translated by Will Naythons

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Our Assessment:

B : reasonably charming -- if a bit too laboredly so

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Toronto Star . 30/11/2014 Jason Beerman

  From the Reviews:
  • "The absence of any real plot gives the book a somewhat manic feel, with the narrator rattling off a day in the life one minute before firing off a humorous story or two, peppered with truisms (.....) Since there is no plot per se, in a sense the narrative garners its momentum from the long glance backwards by the introspective narrator forty years on." - Jason Beerman, Toronto Star

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Ticket to Childhood is a short meditation on past and present, the adult narrator looking back at a more carefree time, when he was eight, and comparing childhood perspectives on the world with those of adult experience.
       As he notes, he takes his liberties with the anecdotes and stories he relates, admitting to embellishment, as when cellphones figure prominently in one recollection. As he then notes in the next chapter:

There were no cellphones when I was eight ! But authors sometimes have to adjust the facts for the sake of their drama, or their dreams, or to make a point. I also can't be sure that there were instant noodles when I was eight. Were there ? Did we have fast food in Vietnam then ? I can't remember, even though I claim they were my favorite food.
       He also admits: "I was a boy with a short attention span. I was always distracted by something else." Part of the appeal of this narrative is how it similarly flows with childish distraction, including in moving back and forth between the present and the past, reflection and events.
       Childhood friends he describes figure in the present too -- the narrator changing some of their names to appease them ("I'm a family man ! I'm a CEO ! You can't describe me like this !" one complains). As the narrator's use of cellphones before their time already suggested, he does not see reality as fixed and permanent, and both names and facts are easily substitutable. Indeed, one of the recollections he shares is of changing language itself in a childish game of substituting one word for another: "We wanted to rename everything in the universe as if we had just created it". After all:
we need to reject the arbitrary rules invented by grownups. Why should we call a dog a dog ? Because 'a dog is a dog' ? If the first man had called a dog a banana, we should now call it a banana. It's just foolish conformity.
       Slight and meandering, Ticket to Childhood is an amiable tour of childhood by an adult who has held onto that playful side of himself. Occasionally it feels like Nguyen is trying a bit too hard (and given how slim the book is, even occasionally comes to feel rather too prevailingly), but he does have a deft touch for capturing that sly childish waggishness and it makes for an agreeable little work.

- M.A.Orthofer, 2 December 2014

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Ticket to Childhood: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Vietnamese author Nguyễn Nhật Ánh was born in 1955.

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© 2014-2021 the complete review

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