I'm Transitioning

[Vung Tau, 6/15/22]

No, not into Marilyn Monroe, but a Vietnamese writer. When I published regularly in both languages about 15 years ago, I finally concluded it was way too schizophrenic, if not suicidal. Never again, I thought as I reverted to English only.

Now, I’m doing it again, but it’s understandable, for I’m in Vietnam and swimming in the Vietnamese language. Any day now, I have a +200-page book of Vietnamese prose coming out, but these pieces are old. I’m working on a book of recent writing about Vietnam. So far, there are chapters about Saigon, Vung Tau, Nghe An, Dien Bien Phu and Lao Cai. Although all these pieces have been published in English, they’ll be much more resonant in Vietnamese, to a Vietnamese audience.

Did I say “resonant”? I’ve missed my calling as a Jewish comedian. With fewer than 100 paid subscribers on SubStack, I can hardly resonate less! In English, that is.

In Albania, I discovered Musine Kokalari. Though educated in Italy and fluent in Italian, Kokalari returned to Albania to become a pioneering writer in her own language. Further, her political activism, that is, her love for Albania, landed her in prison and ruined her life. Even now, there are fewer than 10 million Albanians worldwide, with many outside Albania no longer fluent in their language. Despite all that, Kokalari chose to write for her tiny audience, for she was at home in Albania.

1998 saw the appearance of the first anthology of Vietnamese-American writing, Watermark. With two stories and three poems, I had the most pages. There were so few of us. To my surprise, a new edition will be published. Asked to provide an updated bio, I wrote:

Born in Saigon in 1963, Linh Dinh lived mostly in the US from 1975 until 2018, but has returned to Vietnam. He’s the author of six collections of poems, two of stories, a novel about Vietnam, Love Like Hate, and a book of nonfiction, Postcards from the End of America. Dinh has edited two anthologies of new writing from Vietnam. His political and travel writing is on SubStack. His latest books are in Vietnamese, Thơ nước trong and Tích ngàn thu sau bữa cơm ma, both published in Saigon in private editions to evade censorship. He’s canceled in the US.

So there you have it, I can publish books in Vietnam. I have an audience here.

This morning, I read about Sri Lankans escaping their economic disaster by planes or even boats, illegally.

When I mentioned these newest boat people to my egg sandwich man, he recounted seeing all these corpses washed up in Vung Tau around 1981. There were so many corpses, people didn’t dare to wade into the ocean. Fishermen snagged corpses with their nets. Hearing about a shipwreck, relatives from Saigon would descend on Vung Tau, hoping to recover corpses of loved ones. People howled and screamed on the beach.

There are many stories to be told here, stories even Vietnamese don’t know about. I will tell them, primarily, if not exclusively, in Vietnamese. I don’t have time to do everything. I’m getting old.

Last week, the painter/poet Trịnh Cung came to Vung Tau, so a handful of us hung out with the old man. He treated us to a seafood lunch by the ocean. We had a great time needling Trịnh Cung.

Though he has devoted most of his energy to oil painting, Trịnh Cung is best known for a short poem put to music by the legendary Trịnh Công Sơn. As destitute Saigon artists, they were best friends. Though this poem/song is used by Vietnamese-French director Trần Anh Hùng in his À la verticale de l'été, Trịnh Cung was never asked for permission nor paid. It’s not cool at all.

“France today is no longer the France of Apollinaire!” Trịnh Cung thundered over a mess of crab shell. Of course, he’s right, and the US is no longer a sane or civilized country.

After several years in Orange County, Trịnh Cung is moving back to Saigon. He had no social life in the US. Even Vietnamese-Americans had no time for him. A solitary confinement nation, the US isolates everyone. Though much relieved and grateful for any half night stand, Americans can’t wait to get the fuck away from whom they just fucked. It’s the same with their foreign policies.

It’s fitting they have a degenerate creep as president, and one with a worldclass monster for a son, but what do you expect from a regime of mass murderers, unctious liars and pedophiles? Don’t forget to register to vote, so you can jerk that lever, then go home and jerk off.

Each time I suggested a solution, I was shouted down by angry whites, because it’s their ballgame, they screamed, so fine. It’s 11-1 in the bottom of the ninth, so last chance, y’all. The three whiffers coming up have averages of .133, .028 and .044. Don’t let me ruin your rally!

This week, I discovered the half Vietnamese rapper, Tyga. Have a listen, or, rather, look:

Vietnam didn’t produce him, so please keep this transcendent, all-American, Jew pumped talent! He’s all yours!

OK, now I go back to my Vietnamese manuscript. I’ll keep posting in English until I no longer feel like it, and when I’m gone, just know I’ve relocated to a much saner and much more grounded address. Though much ravaged by Communism, that is, by Jewish thinking, Vietnam is still Vietnam.

Don’t you wish you could say the same about your imploding shack?

[Vung Tau, 7/4/22]