Featured Postcards: Chester, Scranton, Atlantic City and Columbus.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

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Man-who-drank-mouthwash--Center-City







I noticed USMC on his arm. "Marines! How long were you in?"

"Eight years."

"Eight years! Where were you?"

"In Vietnam."

"In Vietnam for one year, right?"

"Yeah, just one year."

"Where were you?"

"Saigon, Pleiku, the Rockpile."

"You know, I'm Vietnamese. I was born in Saigon."

He reached his hand out, and I jumped back a little. Laughing, I said, "I thought you had pulled something out to shoot me!"

"I'm proud of you."

"Proud of me? I didn't do anything, I was just born there. When were you in Vietnam? '67?"

"Yeah, 1967."

"You made it back."

"I'm here."

Though he looked rather worn out, he had oustanding breath, very minty. If he were a girl, I would have kissed him long and hard. "Yo, man, are you drinking mouthwash?"

"Yeah."

"How much does a bottle cost?"

"4.25. For a pint."

"Well, that's not so cheap, but it does get you drunker than a beer, right?"

"Yeah."

"How long does it keep you drunk? Four, five hours?"

"About that."




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About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy and England. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, among other places. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (2006). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Reykjavik, Toronto and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.