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Monday, March 20, 2017

Considering all of their other opinions,

I'd be confused, if not alarmed and embarrassed, if the Washington Post loved me. Thank God, they didn't. From a just published review of my new book, Postcards from the End of America:

[...]

Dinh also likes to go off on rants. Much of one chapter, before his stop at the town’s lone bar, is taken up against a “criminal government.” Barack Obama is a “lying psychopath” guilty of “staggering historical crimes.” He spends almost an entire page questioning fundamental events of Sept. 11, 2001. “You’re liable to get into a fistfight if you merely point out the absurdity of a skyscraper collapsing at free-fall speed without being hit by anything,” he writes. Dinh gives us no evidence, or reason, for what convinces him of any of this, yet these asides accompany us throughout “Postcards.”

The problem is, it’s hard to keep rants and bar tabs going for 368 pages. It’s also disappointing. It feels as though after traveling our country, Dinh found little that challenges what seem to be the ideas he had when he set out. If travel doesn’t change you, then it’s hard to see what will.

[...]


Predictably, one of the first two comments is, "Why bother?" If you've been following my blog, then you obviously don't agree with the Washington Post's assessment of my Postcard project. Do consider leaving a comment there for their readers' sake.

In contrast to the Washington Post's take, here is one at Amazon by JustPlainBill:

This is a collection of Linh Dinh’s postcards, which taken together are a diary of his travels and his conversations with those he meets. When he arrives in town, he doesn’t look for the “important” people in town or the local celebrities. Instead, he seeks out the ordinary Americans that populate buses, trains, local bars and restaurants, or the streets themselves. In impressive detail, he shares with his readers brief portraits of them and the details of their conversations together.

Each of these postcards skillfully and subtly pulls you into the intimacy of the conversation. Although Linh never goes for sentimentality or sympathy, and does not judge his conversation partners, you would need a heart of stone to avoid feeling sad or occasionally heartbroken. This feeling builds as you eventually realize in your travels with Linh that he has not cherry-picked his experiences—the people he meets are everywhere, and not hard to find if you are looking in the right place.

Linh’s descriptions truly bring each person he meets to life. The subjects themselves are by turns cheerful, resigned, once in a while briefly angry or irritated. Unexpectedly, they hardly ever seem to feel openly sorry for themselves. Linh takes a personal risk time and time again that few of us would risk even once, actively seeking engagement with people no matter where he needs to go to meet them.

Although the “postcards” are arranged in chronological order (tracking his progress across the US by bus and train), none are dependent on one another, and could be read in any order. Even without Linh’s prompting, however, you will feel some themes emerge unbidden as you continue. Linh reserves his own judgements for general commentary on the state of US society, spaced throughout his narrative. Personally, this reader did not find much to disagree with in that respect.

Some might be tempted to judge or label many of the people Linh talks to as isolated aberrations or society’s outliers, but Linh will help you recognize that there are a lot more of them than you think, and they more and more are becoming the largest part of what is now America.

This is one of the best and most engaging books I have read in a long time, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. You can also read Linh’s ongoing postcards at his blog at linhdinhphotos.blogspot.com.

I'm with the plain Bills, Joes, Janes and Julies of the world.



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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Washington Post is fake news!!

Linh Dinh said...

Totally, man, and perhaps the very worst source of it.

Anonymous said...

Oh so now they care about evidence? After this https://www.thenation.com/article/eleven-years-how-washington-post-helped-give-us-iraq-war/ ?

bhikshuni said...

just shows how fascist they are witn their millions in jeff bezos cia contract money.

ive followed your blog for years, and find you writing about your personal beliefs or ranting almost never.

its just the glib story to tell themselves to avoid facing the realilty of the disastrous policy decisions wapo and readers have been celebrating over the past 20 - 30 years.

i dont even click on anything associated with them

its all detailed here http://wallstreetonparade.com/2016/06/whats-really-behind-the-washington-posts-efforts-to-marginalize-bernie-sanders/

nels.wight said...

I will never read the WaPo, now or ever, but that's nothing new, I've always des
pised it as FAKE, CIA-inspired, Bezos-supported male-bovine manure.
Were you as well received in Atlanta as elsewhere in your travels, Linh?

LJansen said...

Damn, Linh. I got busy and didn't read here for awhile and here we get the fishwrap WAPO going after you. Well, at least they didn't mention Putin. Too late to make a comment on their butt-wipe article. Bezos, I spit in your face.

Followers

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 a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), 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). 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.