The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam

Dana Sachs, Author
Dana Sachs, Author Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $22.95 (348p) ISBN 978-1-56512-291-8
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Open Ebook - 360 pages - 978-1-56512-872-9
Paperback - 357 pages - 978-1-58005-100-2
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Sachs calls the bustling Hanoi thoroughfare where she lived in the early 1990s ""Dream Street"" because of the prevalence there of the city's most sought-after motor bike--the Honda Dream. During the nine transformative years over which she has visited and lived in Vietnam, the ""sleek and elegant"" Dream, and others of its ilk, muscled out the ubiquitous bicycle. Her memoir covers the time from her initial plunge into the country, as a touring backpacker in 1989, to her triumphant return in 1998 with the husband and son her Vietnamese friends had long prodded her to obtain (even the cyclo driver who first ferried her to ""Dream Street"" announced her as ""Twenty-nine years old. Not married yet""). Most of this engrossing book is devoted to detailing the blissful and exhausting six months Sachs spent settling into a corner of Hanoi in 1992. A journalist who has written for Mother Jones and the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sachs deftly conveys the strange circumstance of being an American walking ""comfortably through the streets of Hanoi."" Her first Vietnam--the war-torn country she knew from TV--haunts her. She feels compelled to apologize when she meets an injured Vietnamese veteran, and is perplexed when she encounters people who suffered terrible losses in the war who harbor no ill will. However, Sachs is careful not to dwell too much in the past. The real joy in her work is the engaging street-level view of Hanoi that she provides: of a run-in with two men who strongly desire to sing ABBA songs to her; of the social life of the neighborhood tea stall and the warm and gossipy grandmother who runs it; and the effects of the vacillating economy on her new friends. In moments like these--and there are many of them--Sachs bravely renders Vietnam through fresh eyes. Agent, Sarah Lazin. (Sept.)
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