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Viet Nam Generation Journal Online
Volume 4, Numbers 1-2

Viet Nam Generation: A Journal of Recent History and Contemporary Issues was founded in 1988 by Kalí Tal. It has been the journal of record in Sixties and Viet Nam war studies since its inception. The current volume is 7:3-4. Do to lack of funds and understaffing there have been no new issues of the journal produced since 1996, but we're working to rectify the situation. In the meantime, we've made these back issues available to you on-line. Hardcopy versions of this issue may be purchased from our Bookstore.

Texts made available by the Sixties Project, are generally copyrighted by the Author or by Viet Nam Generation, Inc., all rights reserved. These texts may be used, printed, and archived in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. Copyright law. These texts may not be archived, printed, or redistributed in any form for a fee, without the consent of the copyright holder. This notice must accompany any redistribution of the text. A few of the texts we publish are in the public domain. For information on a specific text, contact Kalí Tal. The Sixties Project, sponsored by Viet Nam Generation Inc. and the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, is dedicated to using electronic resources to provide routes of collaboration and make available primary and secondary sources for researchers, students, teachers, writers and librarians interested in the 1960s.




In This Issue

This is a complicated document. It has got three parts. "Announcements, Notices, and Reports does not have an index." It is not really classified. You have to browse it, or scan it, or just read the whole thing. Articles that mention deadlines are put at the front of the section. After that you're on your own. There are announcements of conferences and calls for papers. There are notices of books and movies and events that caught my eye. There are reports sent in from all over. The section is alphabetized, sort of, by subject or author or title. That is intended to help you find an article you have already looked at. I don't want to divide this section into Books and Veterans and Events and Letters and Travel and Trade. I use "Announcements, Notices, and Reports" to produce an archive, to put people in touch with each other, to encourage authors, to mock and to praise, and to help librarians buy books. I also want to convey how lost I feel when I consider the possible topics and directions of study for writing about the U.S. and Viet Nam. I suppose I like to bully readers who think they've got it all figured out.

The Features section is easier to use. There are fewer articles. They are listed and described and located in the Table of Contents. Kali Tal and I place work in this section that we endorse as the informed and considered effort of an intelligent imagination.

Chantou Boua leads with a report on the present situation in Cambodia, and its people's need for international aid. Jabiya Dragonsun contributes his poem "War Song." It is the script for a performance described in the Announcements section. Richard Falk addresses Dragonsun's topic from the point of view of international law, with an essay on the Gulf War. We are thrilled to print "Fired Gold," a short story by Nguyen Huy Thiep, Ha Noi's leading dissident author. An essay by translator Peter Zinoman gives background for this fiction. The following essay, by William Leon and Kim-Anh Nguyen, for the first time places a social survey of a Viet-American community in an historical context. A poem by Julia Ross uses a conceit from Islam, the split between Tariquat and Shariat, between esoteric spiritual quest and exoteric religious practice, to meditate on the way each soul must contend with the garbage of history. Maggie Jaffe follows Ross with some hard-edged political poems. Then we have two leaders of the Cowboy Poetry movement, vets Bill Jones, Jr. and Rod McQueary, presented with my summary of the life of the Robert Service, poet of the Yukon and WWI.

Next, four of our regular columnists examine film, theater, science fiction and REMF books. Cynthia Fuchs considers Oliver Stone's JFK and the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse. David DeRose discusses Jamal Joseph's Beyond the Call of Duty (developed and produced at the Black National Theater)--a play which demands evaluation by DeRose's evolving standards for judging Viet Nam vet drama. Oliver Stone's JFK comes up again, this time as a starting point for Alasdair Spark to consider alternative-reality science fiction about the assassination, the war, and the 1960s. David Willson continues his glorious march through the literary record of Army clerk-typists, with a consideration of three unpublished REMF novels. The Features section ends with two personal narratives, and an essay on the importance of reading history in making one's own life. Contributing editor Alan Farrell tries to communicate his vision of war as a profession. Tom Yori, a new voice here, gives us a chapter from his draft-dodger's memoir, concerning the exact mechanics of fleeing to Canada. Last, the poet W.D. Ehrhart addresses La Salle University freshpersons, providing them with a context in which to read Bobbie Ann Mason's novel In-Country.

Then there are the Book Reviews. They're listed in the Table of Contents, too, with author, title, and reviewer. Dan Scripture of College Eight, University of California at Santa Cruz, edits this section to supply rigorous and informed judgments on books of interest to those who are teaching courses and researching about the U.S. war in Viet Nam and about the 1960s generally. In this issue, the lead review is Renny Christopher on Philip Beidler's Rewriting America: Vietnam Authors in their Generation (Georgia, 1991). Then, Jean-Jacques Malo and Dan Scripture consider From Hanoi to Hollywood: The Vietnam War in American Film, (Rutgers, 1990) by Linda Dittmar and Gene Michaud. Both books are meant to be standard works. Scripture's experts help you evaluate their claims to that position of authority.

On the Future of the Newsletter

I undertook this newsletter to take some weight off Kali Tal and to express my excitement about our subject. I immediately recruited contributing editors to provide a regular flow of smart and passionate writing. I have since recruited Dan and Steve as executives, to bring voices into the publication different from the vet authors David Willson refers to me and the Southeast Asia hands I go after. When Renny Christopher recovers from finishing her dissertation, Kali and I hope that she will create her own section, focusing on Viet-American authors, or feminists, or class issues, or whatever she wants. We hope other people step forward in due course, with their own agendas. We have two books in the works on the diplomatic history of the war. We hope that some of those authors will play a role here in the future. We should be covering the civil rights movement at least as much as the war, so we need an editor to go to conferences and chat up writers, show the flag and gather manuscripts. This publication is a vehicle that can carry a great many authors, but one or two editors can't push it by themselves for very long.

On Style

A few notes on language. Kali and I name our country "the U.S." As a business consultant I dealt daily with Americans in Mexico and Argentina and Peru who really don't want to be dragged into U.S. national identity. So I got in the habit of using "America" carefully. We here also write "Viet Nam." Kali and I never mean a war by that unless we say so. In this issue we've started calling Vietnamese people "Viets." I know, English-speaking Viets don't say this, but I think that's because too many of them are too kind and tolerant, or perhaps have too low an opinion of Western intelligence and courtesy, to demand the word they use in Vietnamese. (You might ask why we don't use the word Espana for Spain. It's a good question. For us it's a question of who we want to bring into the discourse. We want to bring in Viet and other Southeast Asian scholars, and we'd like them to feel at home.)

We don't have the time or the inclination to edit this publication with utter consistency, but those are some goals. We'll start using diacritics sooner or later, for Viet names and words. We've got the technology, so go ahead and put them into your manuscripts. Finally, we absolutely do not copy-edit this publication into CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE Standard English. If you have trouble understanding an article, just contact the author or me or Kali for help. Many of our authors have been deep in conversation with one another for several years. Some of them use idiom and reference and shorthand that may confuse you, especially if English is your second language, or you don't live in the States, or you haven't spent some time near a university, or you don't know many U.S. veterans. Don't be shy about asking for clarification. Just get in touch.

Enjoy -- Dan Duffy




Publisher's Statement

Things do keep changing. Every time I think I've got this business figured out, somebody comes up with a great idea and I've just got to try it. This Newsletter is one more venture in boldly going...

So get this. The Newsletter isn't the Newsletter anymore. Presto-chango, it's now the journal. Wow! The magic of naming. Amazing, isn't it?

When I started Viet Nam Generation, Inc., I had this idea that what we needed was a journal-of-record in the field of Viet Nam War studies, or late 20th century American cultural studies, or whatever (inter)discipline it is you think this stuff we publish fits into. And I had this vision of endless journal issues devoted to special topics, carrying no advertising, and suitable for use as course textbooks. As afterthought, I conceived of the Newsletter to fill the communication gaps that develop when a journal doesn't carry ephemera.

What I found was that people really liked the Newsletter. They appreciated the journal issues, but they liked the Newsletter. People like ephemera. I also discovered that, though there was a pretty sizable backlog of good scholarship waiting to find print, the seemingly endless stream of viable "special issue" topics eventually dried up. You may have noticed that it takes a lot longer to put a special topic issue together today than it did two years ago. That's because all the anthologies that were just sitting there waiting to happen are now stocked on our shelves as back issues. There are a bunch of anthologies still to compile, but they will take a while to come to maturity. And I really hate the idea of being forced to put out four anthologies a year if they aren't going to be top-notch. I won't do it.

So, as the Newsletter got bigger and more vital, and as the "journal" issue/anthologies were lagging behind, it just naturally seemed time to make a switch. This doesn't mean that no more anthologies will be forthcoming. As usual, we are interested in giving you more, rather than less for your money. Now what your subscription will buy you is a quarterly journal (this double issue is meant to catch us up to speed) AND a whole bunch of free books. As a subscriber, you'll get a copy of every book or anthology that we publish --original works, reprints, chapbooks, broadsides, you name it. We also occasionally come by large numbers of out of print or remaindered books we think belong on your shelves, so we'll send those along too, gratis (like Ernie Spencer's Welcome to Vietnam, Macho Man). This year you have an absolutely stunning reprint of Land of a Million Elephants-- Asa Baber's long out-of-print adult fairy tale and a book of poetry by Horace Coleman, In the Grass. Also on the docket, a new novel by Dan Barker, Warrior of the Heart, and at least one anthology of new scholarship on the war. If you have any suggestions for books, please let us know.

I do hope you'll continue to use our back issues as textbooks, and that you will plan on using our new books in that fashion, too. I'm trying to work out distribution arrangements so that our publications find their way into bookstores, and I'm always on the lookout for new marketing strategies.

The bottom line: we still exist on an issue-to-issue basis, though we've broken even for almost two years now. Dan and I still work for free. I'm not planning on ever taking a salary out of Viet Nam Generation, Inc. since I work at a steady, high-paying non-academic job and do this in my spare (snort!) time. It would be nice to have enough money coming in to maybe pay our writers a little token something (gasp!), and to make sure that Dan gets remunerated for his prodigious efforts, but I doubt we'll be able to afford that for a while. Unless one or more of you folks out there hit the lottery and decide to share.

When I started Viet Nam Generation, Inc. back in 1988 I never could have imagined where we'd wind up. Every day I go back into the storeroom (I keep all the back issues of V.G. in my basement) and I marvel at the enormous amount of prose and poetry, scholarship and art we've all generated in the last four years. Together we've created an amazing resource and I'm really proud of all of us. Where there was nothing, we came together as a community and pooled our resources and our energy and built this journal from the ground up. You trusted me with your money and your written work when I was a graduate student with no credentials and no reputation; I hope that you feel as good about the results as I do. However Viet Nam Generation grows and changes it will always be yours as much as mine--it's a pleasure to have a community to serve.

-- Kali Tal

Updated Thursday, January 28, 1999

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