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Viet Nam Generation Journal Online
Volume 4, Numbers 3-4

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.
















Cover Story: Why I Went to Viet Nam, by David A. Willson

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

Here's how it works. There are four sections: "Announcements, Notices and Reports"; "Features"; "Teaching"; and "Book Reviews." "Announcements, Notices, and Reports" does not have a table of contents. Many of the best articles in the issue are there, but you have to go in and get them. There is an explanation of the guy with a revolver on the cover, a report on AIDS in Viet Nam, a discussion of why Scarlet, the sequel to Gone with the Wind, is a bestseller in Ha Noi, and a perceptive and insightful discussion of the "25th Anniversary Commemoration of Vietnam Veterans Against the War" written by Jack Mallory, as well as 22 other items you're not going to read about anyplace else. In this issue, the "Announcements" section has grown from my private soapbox to a regular Hyde Park full of articulate people with something to say about the U.S. and Viet Nam and Cambodia.

Articles in the "Features" and "Teaching" sections and the "Book Reviews" are listed in the table of contents. "Features" starts with "Chin Bo Lam Muoi" (Nine Down Makes Ten), a story by Pham Thi Hoai, a leading writer from Ha Noi. She was born in 1960. Her narrator describes nine men she has been with, leaving the reader with a sense of ten Viets who are substantially more vivid and complex than the characters who people my daily life. The translator, Peter Zinoman, contributed Nguyen Huy Thiep's "Vang Lua" (Fired Gold) to issue 4:1-2. By the kindness of Keith Taylor, that translation has been used by 35 college teachers this summer at Ann Arbor, in the intensive course on Southeast Asian Literature in Translation. We will bring as much of Zinoman's work to you as we can.

Next come four more narratives. Wayne Karlin's "The Last VC" evokes a young Afro-Viet American woman, followed by "Alice and Jimmy Mac," a chapter from my story, "Spoils." Alice was the narrator's wife, and Jimmy was his friend. "A Coward for One Minute," by Stephen Banko III, tells the story of an unfortunate accident on recon. Jim Morrison's "Rock Star" explains what it felt like to carry the name of The Doors' lead singer to the war in Viet Nam. Sean Connolly closes this run of fiction with a REMF tale, "Viet Nam Nirvana: The Nine Steps." Then there is a poem from Renny Christopher about knowing soldiers and fighting against men, and a collection of five poems by Horace Coleman--whose book of verse, In the Grass, will be published by Vietnam Generation in 1995. Horace recently suffered a stroke and is slowly but steadily recovering. We wish him a speedy journey to good health.

Literary criticism comes next. Contributing Editor Alan Farrell discusses ways that the French and the Viets have used insect imagery to describe Viet people. "A People Not Strong" first appeared as a presentation at the 1992 Popular Culture Association conference in Louisville, KY. Phillipe Hunt's essay "Semiotic and Agonistic Reason in Thmenh Chey" was written after Cambodian friends invited Hunt to address them in Phnom Penh on Cambodian literature. Thmenh Chey is a centerpiece of Cambodian culture, in the literate and oral traditions. Hunt is the first to point out that he does not even speak Khmer. When I obtain literary criticism from Cambodians, I'll publish it. Hunt's essay is an especially strong piece, in the best skeptical strain of his teacher Paul De Man. Then comes poetry from Lenard Moore, an Army veteran born in 1958, who writes of his career Marine father leaving for Viet Nam, and coming back.

Maria Damon leads off a section of general comment with "In The Belly of the Beast," a consideration of the U.S. obsession with the physical remains of servicemen. She illuminates The King's Two Bodies, a classic of medieval studies, as a Cold War text. William M. King's "What We Want?" discusses Black Power. King writes lucidly about power, a topic that usually prompts mystification, from those who don't have it as well as from those who do. Tadoshi Mio, from Daito Bunka University, discusses "Viet Nam After The 7th Party Congress." It is a thrill to publish an East Asian expert on contemporary Viet Nam. We hope to hear more from Professor Mio and his colleagues. The "comment" section ends with our spiritual leader, W.D. Ehrhart, on "Why My Daughter Won't Grow Up in Perkasie." A well-meaning gladhander in Ehrhart's hometown noticed that the poet had published a book of essays, and invited him to speak to the local Rotary. None of them had read the book. The speaking engagement led to a lively exchange of views between the poet and the people who sent him to war. After Ehrhart's essay is a substantial collection of poems from David Connolly. The first poem sounds like Rudyard Kipling's "Tommy" after an EST seminar. The last one addresses the PAVN vet Nguyen Ngoc Hung, with an image drawn from the end of Kieu. The middle poems are a textbook of infantry attitude. We'll be publishing a book of David's verse, Lost in America, next year. Kalí and I wish to congratulate our friend on his recent marriage.

Next we have history. Actually, we don't publish anything that doesn't approach the past with arguments shaped by evidence, but don't get me started. Peter Brush leads off with "'Home is Where You Dig It': Observations on Life at the Khe Sanh Combat Base," in which he argues for the right of millions of small, furry, fanged creatures to take their proper place in history. "Doves in a Hawk's Nest: Viet Nam and the American Peace Movement 1965-75," provides both narrative and analysis on an essential topic. Especially valuable is the foregrounding of religious and ethnic groups as forces in the anti-war movement. Miriam Jackson's "Viet Nam War Refought: Kent State, 1977" documents a public struggle over the meaning of the past. Two poems from a welcome new contributor, James Scofield, round off this section.

"Features" concludes with a collection of Criticism, or Cultural Studies, or well... just go ahead and read Tony Williams' final essay, "Viet Nam War Studies : A Cultural Materialist Approach." He rounds up the recent works of Auster and Quart, Rowe and Berg, Gilman and Smith, and Phillip Beidler, calling on the reader to maintain an oppositional stance against the lies that surround state-sponsored violence. Preceding Williams' essay, drama editor David DeRose writes on Sam Shepard's States of Shock. Shepard wrote the play to denounce Desert Storm. The New York critics panned him for being stuck on the war on Viet Nam. In "The Margins of the Viet Nam War " Frédéric Pallez takes a cultural theorist's perspective on the task of studying the Viet Nam War. After Williams' essay, the "Features" end with poems from Rod McQueary, who seems to have achieved some peace of mind.

Steve Potts, new on our staff, inaugurates his "Teaching" section with "Teach Your Children Well: Raising the Next Generation on the Viet Nam War." The essay offers insights and detailed information from an experienced college instructor, on resources for teaching junior high and secondary level classes on the war.

Book Review Editor Dan Scripture presents Barbara Tischler on Michael Steven Smith's Notebook of a Sixties Lawyer, An Unrepentant Memoir and Selected Writings, and our fiction columnist Renny Christopher on two novels infused by the war--Allan Gurganus' Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and John Irving's Prayer for Owen Meany. Kali Tal rounds out the issue with a discussion of detective fiction involving veterans.

Enjoy -- Dan Duffy





Publisher's Statement

Just as I was resigning myself to digging deep into my quickly emptying pockets once again in order to pay the printer's bill for this issue of Viet Nam Generation, I received a call from the Santa Monica College Bookstore. They wanted to order 100 copies of Volume 1, Number 2, GI Resistance: Soldiers and Veterans Against the War, edited by Harry Haines. That single $1000 order pays for half of the printing costs for the issue which you now hold in your hands.

I hate to keep harping on money matters, but I think that you all should understand exactly how this works.

We have about one hundred regular institutional subscribers. They pay us $75 a year. That means we can count on $7500 a year, firm money. We have about 150 individual subscribers, but that isn't firm. Individual subscribers don't pay up at the beginning of the year. They send in their money when they remember, or when they realize they haven't been getting their journal issues, or when I call them up and bug them. Individual subscribers pay $40 a year, and we can count on between $4000 and $6000 from this source. We sell individual issues of books, and some of our publications are used as classroom texts. This can bring in as much as $5000 a year, but it comes in erratically and can't be counted on. A very few people send us donations. This year we've received slightly less than $1000 in gifts. If everything goes right, we can count on about $17,500 a year. Of course, everything does not go right, and we usually gross around $15,000.

Here's where your money goes.... Printing 1000 copies of a 144-page issue costs about $2200. Shipping to us costs about $350. Mailing the journals out to you folks (plus about 200 reviewers, authors, board members, etc.) costs about $600. Printing 1000 copies of a book like Asa Baber's Land of a Million Elephants or Leroy Quintana's Interrogations costs about $3000. We'd like to do four journal issues and four books a year. That comes out to somewhere around $30,000. I failed "Math Without Anxiety" twice in college, but even I can tell what those numbers mean. Those numbers mean that we print fewer books and journal issues, and that I continue to spend my own money to keep Viet Nam Generation going while I drive around my 1981 Datsun 4x4 pickup which needs a new clutch. I don't mind doing this, but I have to confess that there are limits to the amount of money I can come up with to meet our costs.

Viet Nam Generation is something really special. As far as I know, it's the first academic journal to be started by a graduate student, independent of a university or a professional organization, and supported entirely by subscriptions and individual donations. It's survived four years in a very tough market. It's published some of the best scholarship in its field. A lot of people read it cover to cover. I've run into graduate students at conferences who are writing dissertations related to the Viet Nam war, and who have said to me that Viet Nam Generation was an invaluable resource, that the articles and bibliographies we publish have contributed a great deal to their work. More than anything, I think we've managed to bring a whole community of scholars together, to introduce new writers to that community, to put people in touch with each other. I've really enjoyed watching Viet Nam Generation grow and change, and I've been delighted to be able to delegate authority to people like Dan Duffy and Dan Scripture, to step back and let them take over many of the editorial responsibilities of the journal while I concentrated on the business end of things. The 1993 Sixties Generations conference is tremendously exciting. But I have to warn you. None of this is sustainable without more funding.

So I am asking all of you to think hard about what you can do to help us out. A few of you might have disposable income. Send us a check. We're a 501(c)3, so your donation is tax deductible. Many of you teach college courses. Make an effort to use some of our excellent anthologies as course textbooks. All of you should browbeat your institutions into becoming subscribers if they are not already. All of you should be telling your friends and colleagues that they really need to subscribe to

Viet Nam Generation. Buy gift subscriptions for your local Veteran's Outreach Center or hospital. If you are a whiz at grant writing, or you know people at granting agencies, get in touch with us. Dan and I publish and edit Viet Nam Generation because we think it's important work. Keeping Viet Nam Generation alive has to be a communal effort. We can't do it without you.

Sixties Generations

I'm going to be harping on this conference from now until next March. I hope that all of you will come.

This is what we envision happening. We are planning four sessions a day, in which two panels of academic papers, one workshop for artists and one workshop for activists will run concurrently. We're also planning to have a book display room open during the entire conference, so we'd encourage those of you who have books in print to make sure that you arrange to have copies to sell. We will have students working at the tables in the book room. We also anticipate two evening performances during the conference--either dramatic productions, concerts, or readings. My hope is that this will become a yearly event, a gathering place for scholars, artists and activists interested in the Viet Nam war, Viet Nam war era, and the effects of the war on subsequent generations. You can help make the project a success by volunteering to jury papers, submitting your work, suggesting artists or activists we ought to invite, and making sure that you and your colleagues all attend.

We're trying to arrange the conference so that it is as affordable as possible. We've signed a contract with the Holiday Inn, Fair Oaks (VA), near George Mason, and within easy metro distance of DC. They've agreed to an extremely reasonable rate of $55 per room, either single or double rate. We have not yet determined how much of a registration fee we need to charge to cover our costs, but we're going to try to keep it under $50. I'll keep you up to date on these matters as they progress. In the meantime, you can help us by sending us the names and addresses of colleagues and friends you would like us to invite to the conference.

The Future

Given that our health holds up and the money holds out, Dan and I have big plans for the future. This year we've got two more new books on the docket (included in your subscription price): Maggie Jaffe's collection of poetry, Continuous Performance, and a brand new novel by Viet Nam veteran Dan Barker, Warrior of the Heart. Barker's story, "The Rescue," appeared in the Viet Nam Generation Newsletter 3:4, and Jaffe's poems appeared in Viet Nam Generation 4:1-2. For 1993, we're planning to issue collections of poetry by Gerald McCarthy, Horace Coleman, and David Connolly, as well as a collection of historical essays on the early years of U.S. involvement in the Viet Nam war edited by Robert Brigham. Lady Borton is working on assembling two anthologies of publications by Red River Press, the Foreign Languages Publishing House of Viet Nam; a collection of folktales, poetry and essays dealing with Viet culture, and a chronological compilation of Viet viewpoints on the progress of the Viet Nam war. We hope that at least one of these Borton anthologies will be ready to go to press in 1993. And, of course, we'll continue to bring you the best in contemporary fiction, poetry and scholarship in our regular journal issues.

-- Kali Tal

Updated Thursday, January 28, 1999

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