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Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Real estate for sale sign on 8-3-15--Fishtown

Fishtown. On 2/2/12, the New York Times reviewed Charles Murray's "COMING APART: The State of White America, 1960-2010":

"Using a statistical construct he calls Fishtown — inspired by an actual white, blue-collar neighborhood of the same name in Philadelphia — Murray sorts through demographic data to present a startling picture. Women in Fishtown now routinely have children outside of marriage. Less than a third of its children grow up in households that include both biological parents. The men claim physical disability at astounding rates and are less likely to hold down jobs than in the past. Churchgoing among the white working class has declined, eroding the social capital that organized religion once provided."

Just three years later, Fishtown is filling up quickly with yuppies. I've known this neighborhood since the late 80's. Walking around it yesterday, I was astounded. An old timer said, "A friend of mine went to jail for four years, and when he came out, he couldn't believe his eyes." Trendy bars and stores have popped up. At a little park, there's a sign, "WELCOME TO FISHTOWN. STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES." And, "WE WISH YOU WELL." Many house number signs have a fish image on it, and many businesses dangle a steel fish sculpture. A trash can has a fish head as its opening.

A boutique hotel is being built. Fishtown, in short, is becoming Philly's Williamsburg.


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About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. 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 Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). 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, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.