Goodreads Summary: After enduring a severe panic attack which left the author attached to breathing machines around foreign doctors in South Korea, Panorama–the bonus chapter for the memoir, Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son, expands on the author’s experiences working and living abroad in Seoul, South Korea.
After a friendship ignites and morphs into an awe-struck, curious tale of parallel souls with a Brazilian-American soldier serving in the military at the North Korean border protecting South Korea from Kim Jong-il, Panorama reflects on the author’s contemplations to return to a crumbling family life in Los Angeles or to endure his life in Seoul for an end-of-contract cash payout.
In Panorama, the author broadens his stance on the importance of moments spotlighting loneliness and exposing the perks and ailments of escapism. With precise prose and a thought-provoking connected storyline that covers eating living octopus, philosophical debates about the gender of God, and a surprise pregnancy, Panorama, stands tall as a connected yet separate, compelling story. The author reminds us again, that as daunting as the vicissitudes of life, and no matter the view from the cockpit of life, the human spirit cannot be restrained in loss, or love, and strives to be unbroken–and free
Thoughts: Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my review.
I think its always great to read memoirs written by people you know and not just famous people you admire. I love how you get to know the person on a deeper level and learn intimate parts of their lives. This was a book that I couldn’t put down once I started reading it.
You know how writing can be a form of therapy for people, this book feels like thats exactly what it was for the author. That was something that I really liked about this book as you can see as the author processes each scene and different events of his life. I like that you can feel a sense of relief at the close of each chapter and there’s a transition to a new event or moment in his life.
Something else I really enjoy about this book is how each chapter gives me a different scene. Each chapter slowly brings me through Ross’s time in Korea as if you are watching this play out in real time. I love the banter between the people who are in the story and the humor that is included throughout the book.
I love the love story that it opens with where its as if nothing can go wrong. I really enjoyed reading the relationship that Ross has with Alvi and seeing how that develops and changes. I love the vulnerability that you get from both of these men in the text messages that they exchange with each other.
I feel that society has not allowed Black men to show a range of emotions much less fear and sadness. Even more so feelings that they have towards each other that are complex and have so much history to their actions towards each other. Because of this I found that the scenes in which these two Black men are real and vulnerable with each other are powerful.
I think it was interesting to read the perspective of someone who is Black, bisexual male. I thought it was interesting to read what Ross’s thought about his sexuality were when he first realized he was bisexual and how he felt being in the middle.
Something that i found unique about this book was the explanation of the author’s views at the end. This book transitions from being a snipit of the author’s life into a series of essays on gender, sexuality, race and the intersections between them. If you aren’t interested in those portions though you can skip them and still get a good experience from the book.
I thought that was a great and interesting way to close as it leaves you thinking about sexuality and the intersection of sexuality, gender and race. While I did like the way that it closed I do think that it is something that you have to sit with and maybe read more than once to really understand what he is saying.
As I read the end I thought about how when I identified as female and came out as bisexual at 13 it was fine not just for me but also for others who I came out to. Then when I came to the realization that I’m a trans boy and non binary, I felt that the label was no longer okay for me. I shuffled through trying to find other terms or shift my sexuality somehow because I knew a bisexual boy was not something society was okay with. It wasn’t until this year when I really decided that I’m bisexual and was okay with that label again.