As Saigon was falling a small boy flew from the city under an assumed name. He saw Washington, Oregon, California and Virginia before lodging in Philadelphia.
Art school brought him there and the bustle of a collapsed city kept him. He worked the jobs you can always get.
He found South Phillie where there is a mural next to the cheese steak shop for Daniel Faulkner who shot it out with Mumia Abu-Jamal. Asians moving in build altars in their picture windows like those of the Italians whose homes give the district its character.
Vietnamese follow rents around Philadelphia. The central library tracks requests for individual books in Vietnamese then sends along a supply to that branch.
Linh Dinh is not a man of the Vietnamese community, who can be rough on a writer. One thing they do to library books is to deface those of authors they disagree with.
He earned a reputation as an author in English, a not especially Asian American one. His stories are remarkable for their poor whites and his poetry appears from the small press tradition that began because there were no university programs in creative writing or ethnic studies.
He visited Viet Nam as a Pew Fellow and came back with contemporary fiction to translate into English. Then he returned to live in Saigon.
He made another reputation writing in Vietnamese even though he couldn’t publish there. He made friends with banned poets and with their publishers at the websites that flourish in Australia and Germany.
A world writer, he enjoyed fellowships in England and Italy. Back home again he made his Vietnamese writers accessible to all by composing most of the articles at our online encyclopedia.
He taught writing at such posts as you get when you not only are an author but a scholar as well and make a point of not being a professor. He published a wonderful novel about Saigon, about Viet Nam, about illusions.
Then he started taking pictures. It is as if Saigon fell and now the American economy has tilted so Linh Dinh can be here to watch.
He walks among those cast out upon the streets to report the State of the Union. Follow his pictures at that blog and look for his commentary at CounterPunch, Common Dreams, Dissident Voice and The Guardian.
He is doing a thorough job. When I suggested he make sure to shoot white people he already had crossed the river to the tent city at Camden and soon after took a bus to Bellows Falls, Vermont.
His video about the project shows a map marking the twenty states he has visited by public ground transportation. He plans to see at least the remaining twenty-eight of the continental United States.
$389 buys a fifteen-day rail pass, $80 a hotel room for the night, $60 is pocket money to walk among the poor with small comforts for the day. So $2500 could cover six states.
Send Linh just $2000 and he will win another $500 from matching funds and come to your town to speak. For $1000 he wins $500 and you get three signed prints, for $500 or $300 he gets double your money and you get one print.
The best deals for you and Linh are $200 for a novel, a book of stories and a book of poems, $100 or $60 for just one of those. Linh gets double your money and all gifts are in recognition of a tax-deductible charitable contribution to USA Projects, Inc.
Linh Dinh’s candor and industry are invaluable. To disagree with his pessimism you still will use his evidence.
I am more closely wired into those in charge than Linh and think we will not let the place go down the tubes. But everyone must understand what is going on.
Disillusion is hope. Help a man who has lost one country show what is left of ours.
Postcards from the End of America is now in print.
[Original postscript: Write to email@example.com when you give to Linh Dinh by noon on Friday, November 11 and we will send you our annual comic book free of charge.]