Fake House, the first collection of short stories by poet Linh Dinh, explores the weird, atrocious, fond, and ongoing intimacies between Vietnam and the United States.
Linked by a complicated past, the characters are driven by an intense and angry energy. The politics of race and sex anchor Dinh's work as his men and women negotiate their way in a post-Vietnam War world. Dinh has said of his own work, "I incorporate a filth or uncleanness to make the picture more healthy--not to defile anything."
While Fake House delves into the lives of marginal souls in two cultures, the characters' dignity lies, ultimately, in how they face the conflict in themselves and the world.
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A recipient of a Pew Foundation grant, a David T. Wong Fellowship, a Lannan Residency and, most recently, the Asian American Literary Award, LINH DINH was born in Saigon in 1963 and emigrated to the United States in 1975. An acclaimed and provocative writer of short stories and contemporary fables, he is also the author of several books of poems and a novel, Love Like Hate. Linh has edited the anthologies Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam and Three Vietnamese Poets. His collection of stories, Blood and Soap was chosen by the Village Voice as one of the Best Books of 2004. Linh's nonfiction essays have been published regularly at Unz Review, LewRockwell, Intrepid Report and CounterCurrents, and his blog, Postcards from the End of America (linhdinhphotos.blogspot.com), is followed by thousands of readers. He has also published widely in Vietnamese.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Award-winning poet Dinh's (Drunkard Boxing) hit-or-miss first collection of short stories examines postwar Vietnamese in the U.S. and in Vietnam. The 22 stories, often more memorable for their imagery than their plots, are narrated in the no-holds-barred, graphic language distinguishing the author's poetry. The first half of this collection focuses on Vietnamese immigrants living in the U.S. In the title piece, Josh is a free-spirited ne'er-do-well visiting his successful younger brother (whom he nicknames "Boffo," short for "Boffo Mofo") in order to squeeze a few bucks out of him. Boffo tries to disparage Josh's lifestyle, but can't help secretly admiring his brother's world, compared to his own shallow, American dream-like "Fake House." Becky, "The Ugliest Girl," is so plain that "Not counting the freaks, the harelips, the Down's Syndromes, the ones with lye splashed on their face, born without a nose, an extra mouth, five ears, and so on, I am the ugliest girl." The author does not shy away from jarring narrative perspectives. Part Two takes a look at life in Vietnam after the war. Characters like Lai's father, a legless NVA veteran who cares for his grandson while his daughter works as a hostess (prostitute) in a disco, explore the war's lasting effects with a bittersweet humor. His grandson is half African-American, and the vet, who spared an African-American soldier in the war, says to himself, "A karmic joke: Since you liked the first one so much, here! Have another one." Not every literary tone poem presented here is successful. "Two Who Forgot" is more of a rant than a story. But the train wreck of war is hard to look away from, and Dinh, the poet, holds a mirror to the lives of all who suffered and dares the reader to look away. Yet his inveterate use of profane language and raw sexual detail may limit the book's readership. (Oct.)
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