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Love Like Hate: A Novel Paperback – September 21, 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Poet and short story writer Dinh’s debut novel portrays his native Vietnam from the war through the end of the twentieth century. The tale centers on Kim Lan, who owns the Paris by Night restaurant in Saigon; her husband Hoang Long, an army enlistee who is gone for years at a time; and their daughter Hoa, whose relationship with the leader of the punk band Love like Hate symbolizes the country’s growing modernity. With wry humor, Dinh describes the Vietnamese view of America garnered from Hollywood exports, “the root cause of America’s immigration problems.” He skewers everything in postwar Vietnam, from the exiting American soldiers, “going back to their sweethearts and Chevies,” leaving their offspring behind, to the Hanoi regime of the late 1970s and 1980s, which “systematically destroyed” an entire society. By the 1990s, one character returning to America disparages his countrymen who, rushing to become modern, have “swapped their vegetable patches, carp ponds, pigs and geese for a fake pair of Levi’s.” At once caustic and humorous, harshly critical and nostalgic, Dinh’s overview of his homeland is unfailingly honest. --Deborah Donovan

Review

"A sort of Vietnamese Edgar Allan Poe for 21st centurylyric qualities infuse Dinh's short fiction." - Susan Balée, Philadelphia Inquirer "The total effect of Blood and Soap is impossible to describeIt owes a certain dept Joege Luis Borges, but uses Borgesuan metafiction and genre-bending to depict a sense of absurdity confusion, and displacement peculiar to being a contemporary world citizen." - Brooklyn Rail

"At once caustic and humorous, harshly critical and nostalgic, Dinh’s overview of his homeland is unfailingly honest."—Booklist

Poet and short story writer Dinh’s debut novel portrays his native Vietnam from the war through the end of the twentieth century. The tale centers on Kim Lan, who owns the Paris by Night restaurant in Saigon; her husband Hoang Long, an army enlistee who is gone for years at a time; and their daughter Hoa, whose relationship with the leader of the punk band Love like Hate symbolizes the country’s growing modernity.

With wry humor, Dinh describes the Vietnamese view of America garnered from Hollywood exports, “the root cause of America’s immigration problems.” He skewers everything in postwar Vietnam, from the exiting American soldiers, “going back to their sweethearts and Chevies,” leaving their offspring behind, to the Hanoi regime of the late 1970s and 1980s, which “systematically destroyed” an entire society. By the 1990s, one character returning to America disparages his countrymen who, rushing to become modern, have “swapped their vegetable patches, carp ponds, pigs and geese for a fake pair of Levi’s.” At once caustic and humorous, harshly critical and nostalgic, Dinh’s overview of his homeland is unfailingly honest.
Deborah Donovan—
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; 1 edition (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583229094
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583229095
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #608,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I was going to write that this book is a pleasure to read, but given its grim and often painful content, that might be like admitting that I'm a sadist. Dinh's prose itself, though, is a pleasure indeed--it's often like poetry instead, and it makes me want to read his poetry. The content is often poetic too, with finely observed details of scene and character, and again, with perfectly chosen and revealing words to describe them.

Dinh may or may not reveal much about Vietnamese people and culture; those looking for touristic, voyeuristic exotica could well find some here. They might also decide that Vietnamese men really know how to abuse Vietnamese women. However, if they do think they're learning anything about Vietnamese people in general, I hope they stop and ask themselves--was Poe an accurate representative and chronicler of his country's society? Was William Faulkner, or Flannery O'Connor, or Michel Houellebecq, or any other writer with an idiosyncratically dark vision?

This story careens like a drunken camera from character to character, tracing the lines of the always tenuous relations between them. We watch, again and again, the possibility of love and then the tragedies brought about by its immolation. For me, what causes the promise of love to go down in flames repeatedly is how little the characters understand about how their objects of attraction in turn regard them. In a population repeatedly bulldozed like garbage by larger forces, the people--Dinh's people, at least--end up trashing each other. The end result for this reader is a horribly beautiful reminder of what we deny ourselves, and of what we waste, when we fail to appreciate as best we can two things: why other people are who they are, and why they want what they want.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an amazingly well written novel. The language is so well edited that there's isn't a single unnecessary word. It make Hemingway seem a bit too wordy. Dashiell Hammett seem prosy. It's darkly hilarious and Linh Dinh is terribly cruel to his characters. This book is a mirror into Vietman from the 1950s to the near present day, plus the ironic American experience in contrast. This book reminds me of One Hundred Years of Solitude, but is far funnier and a hell of a lot shorter.
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This X rated at times sexually radical (the finer points of bestiality anyone?)novel finds and makes its bulls-eyes on exposing and explicating common perceptions versus reality in a fast moving , belly laugh witty , post modernist style (one scene where the narrator enters the narrative the author managed the most seamless and comical use I have encountered of that device ) struck me with so many searing , lasting and revealing images of American and Vietnamese history, and ethical and social consciousness that I consider this by far the most effective novel in terms of didactic intent that I have read for some time - its poetical and heuristic style makes the prose enduring on the memory - highly recommended for anyone without discomfort at sexually explicit and suggestive prose (which at times borders on making the novel an albeit stylistically beautiful bordello) . Once through the first few chapters and you have meshed with the conversational English , you wont put it down (or turn it off...I read the flawless kindle edition as my first encounter with an "e-book" and now am an e book addict).
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I enjoyed this book. I am a Vietnam era veteran that did not go to Vietnam but heard a lot of stories about it. I just encounter the writings of Mr. Dinh on the Lew Rockwell site. I enjoyed his essays so much I bought his book. I am glad I did. He is a quirky and unpredictable writer that tells a lot of history just through antidotes. I always wanted to know what happened to Vietnam after the Democrats surrendered it to the communist. It sounds to me that they would have been a lot better off if the USA would have prevailed. I certainly thank God that I was spared that carnage and given a full life instead. This book gives me a greater sense of compassion for the Vietnamese people. They deserved better .This is a great book, bawdy at times, and funny, I am glad I read it. Mr. Dinh is a gifted writer.
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