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In this story, Butler has taken spooky to a new level. Ho Chi Minh or Nguyn Ai Quoc, a communist revolutionary leader, is appearing to the dying narrator. He died before the outcome for the Vietnam War was determined. The narrator had worked with him in a European confectioner’s kitchen. In addition to these apparitions, the narrator is also having visitors come by to say their final goodbyes.┬áBut this story was not simply about the dying grandfather being called to die. He overheard enough of his family’s conversation to believe that they had a part in a political death. Whatever his decision, he must factor in his religion, politics, and family.

This story comes after “The American Couple” so I wonder why Butler chose to put them in this order, the level of craft in his stories also led me to believe that he thought about the order of his stories as well. All of Butler’s stories share the theme of trying to combine Vietnamese and American culture without the characters losing themselves. In “The American Couple,” the Vietnamese couple is still trying to figure out how they fit together to make a family and how they will be moving forward. In “A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain,” the narrator has already made his family and now has to look at what he created. So “The American Couple” is looking forward while “A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain” is retrospective.

Although there aren’t the same characters in both stories, it felt like a beginning and end to me. I also felt that these stories were more about family than most of the others we have read. It shares the blend of Vietnamese culture in the American world, but it focuses on the values of family more.

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