Saigon Dreaming: Recollections of Indochina Days

Tela Zasloff, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (151p) ISBN 978-0-312-04216-5
The author and her husband lived in Saigon in 1964, just before U.S. forces arrived (he was working on a RAND study), and in Vientiane in '67. In her slender, well-written memoir, Zasloff recounts her attempts to get along in two ``very foreign'' cultures. Her response to Saigon and its inhabitants was generally negative. Without apology, she describes unhappy encounters with obnoxious street beggars and xenophobic children, as well as tense moments with household servants as she strives to keep occupied with riding, tennis and French lessons. (She also taught English and gave piano recitals.) Politics are barely touched on. The perverse, problematic charm of the book arises from the author's indifference to the reader's opinion of her intolerance, even when she admits to feeling ``a profound revulsion'' for Vietnam and its people. Unfortunately, her brief account of life in Laos is far less passionate or engaging. The book may strike a responsive chord in readers whose visits to Third World countries were dominated by frustration and a sense of alienation. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
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