"My heart sank. I dumped my father's ashes in the heart of communist Vietnam - over a thousand miles from the death of his comrades - over a thousand miles from the smile of that girl. How could I have been so stupid?"
Only the bumbling, overweight, thirtyish, stay-at-home Martin Kinney could have mistakenly flubbed his dying father's request with such gusto. This thousand mile mistake awakens the ghosts of long-held family secrets and puts Martin on a fateful course with an unlikely romantic interest - a young, beautiful, yet troubled Vietnamese woman named My Phuong.
With its cross-cultural setting and unlikely romance, Beauty Rising creates a powerful, unique voice in today's literature. In a swift-moving, dialogue-driven prose which is funny, honest, tragic and unpredictable, Beauty Rising explores the depths of culture, family, and love as the Vietnam War, a generation removed, continues to hang on the periphery of society, cursing families and causing destruction.
|Publisher:||Mark W Sasse|
|File size:||3 MB|
About the Author
Mark W Sasse is a novelist and award-winning playwright and director. He vacillates on a daily basis between which genre of writing he enjoys the most. Luckily, he doesn’t have to choose! Sasse’s novels have been featured on curated sites such as Bookbub and Noisetrade, and his plays have been produced in New York, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Sydney, Australia. He was the winner of the Greywood Arts Winter Residency 2018 for his play "The Last Bastion." He is a three-time winner of the Best Script Award at the Penang Short & Sweet Theatre Festival. His plays have won multiple other awards such as Best Overall Performance and Audience Choice Award. He won the Festival Director’s Award at the 2016 festival. Sasse’s interests cast a wide net – from politics to literature – from culture and language – from history and religion, making his writing infused with the unexpected as he seeks to tell authentic and engaging stories about people from all walks of life. His writing is straightforward and accessible to all, especially those who enjoy a page-turning good story injected with doses of Asian culture, history, adventure, and unexpected humor. His first novel series - THE FORGOTTEN CHILD TRILOGY - is finished. Book 1 - A MAN TOO OLD FOR A PLACE TOO FAR - published in December 2017 with book 2 - THE AFRICAN CONNECTION - published in July 2018. Look for book 3 sometime in early 2019. This adventure novel series dabbles in the fantastical with a little magical realism, history, and time travel thrown in alongside the requisite human stories. As for his plays, he’s fond of both the short play (10 minutes or less) and full-length formats. From 2011-2017 he wrote and directed the drama ensemble The RLT Players, a passionate group of dramatic storytellers who specialize in the short play format. In September 2016, his experimental theatre piece “How to Build a Dictator” was featured as part of Penangpac’s Black Box Experiments series. In January 2017, his new play “The Last Bastion” was featured in a staged-reading in collaboration with the Penang Performing Arts Centre. His goal is to have it go into full production somewhere in the world. Any takers? HOW DID HE FINALLY GET HIMSELF WRITING? Sasse remembers writing his first play when he was about thirteen. It was about Queen Esther and the only person he ever showed that play to was his mother. In college, he wrote lots of poetry, even love poetry for a certain girl. But once he graduated, his writing confidence was shattered, so he gave it up for the next twenty years. He doesn’t recommend doing that! He went to China to teach English in 1992 and eventually moved to Vietnam to do the same in 1994, shortly after the U.S. lifted the embargo against their former enemy. He lived in the exotic Vietnamese culture with his family for nearly ten years. After many life-changing experiences there, Sasse’s new-found taste for history sent him back to school to pick-up a second Master’s degree, this one in Humanities. This led to a shift from teaching English to history as he moved to Malaysia in 2006. Little did he know, however, that all of this was building up to another major shift, which would get him back to writing. On a whim in 2007, he embarked on a collaborative project with a group of students to write and produce a play, resulting in the original stage play “Monkey Love Potion.” It was such a fun and rewarding experience that he decided to try it again the following year. Before he knew it, he was hooked and that was the beginning of his love affair with live theatre. After writing and successfully producing four original full-length scripts, he finally got the nerve to try his hand once again at a hidden desire which had defeated him many times over the years – novel writing. In the summer of 2011, he embarked on the journey of writing his first novel. His greatest worry was reaching the magical 50,000 word mark, so he could officially call himself a novelist. When the story, “Beauty Rising,” clocked in at over 60,000 words, he was shocked and happy. But not content. He didn’t know what to do with the novel, and he convinced himself that it would sit idle until he wrote a second novel. He hated hearing the words “one-hit wonder” echo in his head. So in the summer of 2012, he wrote “The Recluse Storyteller.” Feeling a little more confident, he decided to focus on exposing his work to the public in order to receive some feedback. In December 2012, he independently published “Beauty Rising.” When the first review from an online book reviewer was posted and it was over-the-top positive, he was flying high, and if he never wrote another word in his life, he would have been content. But that contentment was not to be. He was now hopelessly hooked on both playwriting and novel writing, and he hasn’t looked back since. He has published seven novels with eight on the way and nine in the planning stages. He is grateful for all the readers who have joined him on this journey of creativity. ON A PERSONAL NOTE Sasse loves to cook everything from pizza to Thai. He’s coached softball or baseball for the past ten years, and he’s been a much too loyal fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates since he was 9 years old—another item he’s hopelessly hooked on. He enjoys travelling, visiting historical sites, and sitting by the beach or other scenic spot with a laptop, an idea, and a lot of time. He has a lovely wife and three wonderful children and one really cool son-in-law – he’s Korean, keeping with the Asian theme of his life. He has an active blog (www.mwsasse.com) where he writes frequently about history, writing, culture, and life. He loves to hear from readers, so he hopes you’ll stop by his site and say “hello.” The Complete List of Published Works by Mark W Sasse NOVELS A Parting in the Sky (coming 2019) (The Forgotten Child Book 3) The African Connection (2018) (The Forgotten Child Book 2) A Man too Old for a Place too Far (2017) (The Forgotten Child Book 1) Which Half David: A Modern-day King David Story (2016) A Love Story for a Nation (2015) The Reach of the Banyan Tree (2014) The Recluse Storyteller (2013) Beauty Rising (2012) PLAYS For the Glory of Nat Turner (2018) Embrace (2018) The Last Bastion (2017) The Folly of Progress (2017) The Last Bastion (2017) How to Build a Dictator (2016) The Secrets of the Magic Pool (2016) Grandparents’ War (2013) Romans on the Couch (2011) SHORT STORIES Jolly Old St. Hick (2018) The Hundred Pitch At-Bat (2017) Christmas in the Trenches, 1914 (2016) If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story (2014)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
BEAUTY RISING is both a romance and a historical novel. Martin, the 30-year-old son of highly dysfunctional parents, is determined to fulfill his father’s death wish – to scatter his ashes near a large protruding rock under two banana trees, by a lake in Vietnam. Martin scatters his dad’s ashes according to his wishes, but soon discovers he took them to the wrong lake, wrong banana trees. Only the beginning of his bad luck, Martin’s wallet is stolen, and without any money or credit cards, he comes under the wing of a Vietnamese taxi driver and an American English teacher for the remainder of his stay. After returning home, Martin is unable to forget the beautiful, young woman who he believes stole his wallet. My Phuong’s life couldn’t get any worse. The daughter of a pastor, My Phuong escaped as the corrupt ruling party arrested her parents and brothers for illegally praying in the open. After hearing that her parents were dead, she left her home and traveled north. Reduced to life as a pickpocket, hairdresser, and prostitute, My Phuong flees Vietnam to save her life. Sasse portrays the two main characters and their emotional struggles with sensitivity. This colorfully written saga of two unfortunate people across the miles from the United States to Vietnam and back, clearly shows the author researched his book in depth. An emotionally charged story of love, redemption, and heartbreak, BEAUTY RISING is a book you do not want to miss.
Beauty Rising might best be described as a “late coming of age” story. The protagonist, Martin, hasn’t managed to break away from his overbearing parents. But his father’s dying request sets him on a journey where he comes to understand both his parents better, and in the process becomes his own man. A large part in the middle of the book takes place in Vietnam, with the different setting and culture adding spice to the story. I found this part interesting and assume, since the author’s bio indicates he’s lived in this part of the world, should be an accurate portrayal. **Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **
Strong and solid prose highlight the character driven story and bring the beauty that is Vietnam and her people to light. Tragedies make strange bedfellows, as the two main characters in this story, Martin and My Phuong can attest, after several twists and turns bring them together in intersecting journeys. Compelling and captivating, there were moments where the characters could have been developed more fully, or the pacing could have had better balance, but the ultimate struggles and juxtaposition between inherently ‘western’ and ‘eastern’ values, behaviors and traditions provide a solid feel of the struggle and joys in a cross-cultural experience. The story does manage to engage readers and keep them reading until the last page. Sasse is talented, with an ability to provide readers with an enjoyable, captivating story in Beauty Rising, and leaves me curious about his future work and growth. I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
If you are looking to read a really well written, compelling story you should read this. From the first chapter, you are compelled to keep reading. You are drawn into the story and don't want to put it down. The story is so cohesively written and just flows. You find yourself just keep flipping the pages because you want to know what happens. It has all the goodies of love, loss, redemption. Martin, the main character who grew up with an alcoholic father and a verbally abusive mother is asked by his dying father on his death bed to fulfill his last wishes He doesn't know how to feel about this but he does it and it unravels many secrets along the way and speaks many truths that were never said. On his journey he finds love and loss. I don't want to give away too much because there are so many elements to this plot that make it such a great book.