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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

My foreword to the Japanese edition

of Postcards from the End of America:

Thinking I could make a difference, I wrote Postcards, but it has only changed my life. Nothing else. An immigrant, college drop-out and lifelong financial failure, I’m an outsider in the US, but so are all the characters in this book. Traveling across America, I gravitated towards the types of people I was already familiar with in Philadelphia, where I lived for three decades. Waiters, cooks, bartenders, construction workers, factory hands, mechanics, a cleaner of emergency spills, a prostitute, the unemployed, several homeless, etc., they belong to the so-called “bottom half,” but since their ranks are increasing so relentlessly, it’s more appropriate to speak of “the bottom majority.”

Though constituting most of America, these mostly unseen and mute folks have zero influence on how the US is run, and when they were tricked into voting for a conman named Donald Trump, they were even mocked as “deplorables.” A few years earlier, a different group of frustrated citizens had mounted the Occupy protest, but that, too, came to nothing. Mostly college-educated young people, they became symbolically homeless by camping out in each US city. All homeless Americans are already protesters, however, for their numerous presence is a fierce refutation against the relentlessly propagated image of this nation as fabulously wealthy.

In publishing this heretical account of a hollowed-out America, I’ve become not just more marginalized, but an ex-American. With almost no means of survival left in the US, I have returned to my native Vietnam.

This morning in Saigon, I checked the Philadelphia newspaper to discover a shop owner had just been shot with an AK-47 in a robbery attempt, and 1,217 Philadelphians died in 2017 from drug overdoses, up from 907 in 2016. Each day, there are appalling news from all across the country, but this doesn’t surprise me in the least, for I’ve been watching the end of America for many years now.



grimychaz said...

America actually is one giant, bizarre cult in many ways - both the left and right. While the rest of the westernized world (first world Asia included) thinks they aren't a part of this cult, they are sorely mistaken. Yeah, they might have better food traditions or a couple old school cultural novelties here and there, but they are still full blown members.

Rudy said...

Hi Linh,

Recently Henry wrote:
One day, when picketing the White House in Opposition to the Vietnam war, a
journalist asked A. J. Muste: "Why do you demonstrate in the rain? Do you
think you will change the country this way?" "No," replied Muste, "I don't
do this to change the country. I do this so the country doesn't change me."

He asked ‘Applicable quote?’

Could be, I thought, so I said yes.

We’re down to three now, sometimes four. The end is in sight, the history writers victorious.

Not long ago I told a young woman about Ernst Zündel. She said, "Well, he knew what would happen, but he did it anyway". If I get a chance I want to ask her "What will save you when some night they break down your door and ask you why you didn’t tell them I told you that?”

The country (world) hasn’t changed me, but the past 8 years have sharpened my understanding of it and hardened my longtime cynicism.

Peter Zerbe Westberg Sr said...

Hallo Linh
Our plight as Beings having lived 10,000 Lifetimes leads us through cultures as well as events.
Accept my opinion of Your amazing accomplishments ,creative genius and earnest intellect as ample. Evidence of Your success !

joebanford said...

Linh - Please stop by if you ever visit Philly. You are always welcome. May you have peace and happiness!

Be well, my friend -



Remonster said...

Peter ZW speaks for me too.

Sometimes art slaps you in the face and a sublime knowing clothes the pain in a velvet cloth.

I think you are a giant among us Linh. Your soul speaks in languages yet to be invented.

Thank you.

destroytheuniverse said...

your X-ray eyes linh your corkscrew mind

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

i saw your recent postings of philly photos and wondered if you'd come back to the states - after reading this i suppose not, though of course i might be wrong

maybe someone who reads this comment will take a look at culadasa's book

The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness

Linh Dinh said...

Hi mistah charley,

I'm just in Philly to wrap things up. I'm aiming to be back in Saigon by 8/1/18.



About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I lived mostly in the US from 1975 until 2018, but have returned to Vietnam, where I live in remote Ea Kly. I've also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), a novel, Love Like Hate (2010), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), and six collections of poems, with a Collected Poems apparently cancelled by Chax Press from external pressure. 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 Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in Tokyo, London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.