Catalogue


The house on Dream Street : memoir of an American woman in Vietnam /
by Dana Sachs.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
Chapel Hill, NC : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2000.
description
348 p. ; 23 cm.
ISBN
1565122917
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
author
imprint
Chapel Hill, NC : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2000.
isbn
1565122917
catalogue key
4094096
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Dana Sachs has written for such magazines and newspapers as Mother Jones, Sierra, and the Philadelphia Inquirer
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Excerpts
Flap Copy
It wasn't until the early 90's that the war-torn country etched into the historical memory of every American finally opened its doors to the world. Journalist Dana Sachs had been haunted by her limited understanding of Vietnam culled from bits and pieces of the evening news and quick summaries in high school history. She decided she had to get to know Vietnam and its people from the inside out. She'd anticipated meeting with stares and hostility as an American in Vietnam. She hadn't anticipated becoming entranced, so entranced that she moved to Hanoi. The House on Dream Street is Sachs' heartfelt account of how she settled in with a Vietnamese family, learned the language, and made a place for herself in enemy territory. And then, when she least expected it, she fell in love. With vivid descriptions of the tastes, sounds, smells, and images of Vietnam, Sachs reveals the beauty of a country long off-limits to Americans. Part love story, part social commentary, Sachs' memoir explores the tenuous balance between old and new Vietnam. But above all, The House on Dream Street tells the story of a woman learning to know her own heart.
Flap Copy
It wasn't until the early 90's that the war-torn country etched into the historical memory of every American finally opened its doors to the world. Journalist Dana Sachs had been haunted by her limited understanding of Vietnam culled from bits and pieces of the evening news and quick summaries in high school history. She decided she had to get to know Vietnam and its people from the inside out.She'd anticipated meeting with stares and hostility as an American in Vietnam. She hadn't anticipated becoming entranced, so entranced that she moved to Hanoi.The House on Dream Street is Sachs' heartfelt account of how she settled in with a Vietnamese family, learned the language, and made a place for herself in enemy territory. And then, when she least expected it, she fell in love.With vivid descriptions of the tastes, sounds, smells, and images of Vietnam, Sachs reveals the beauty of a country long off-limits to Americans. Part love story, part social commentary, Sachs' memoir explores the tenuous balance between old and new Vietnam. But above all, The House on Dream Street tells the story of a woman learning to know her own heart.
Excerpt from Book
1 Through the Green Gate The cyclo pulled to a stop in front of an enormous green gate. I turned around and looked at the driver, but he only gave me a smug smile from his seat on the pedicab. "This is number four," he said, gesturing toward the address beside the gate. I glanced at the number, then at the address in my hand, then glared at him. When he had first approached me as I stepped off the bus in central Hanoi, he had insisted that my destination was ten kilometers away and that he, in turn, deserved a hefty fee for pedaling me there. But we had traveled less than a kilometer and arrived in five minutes. "Stay here," I said as sternly as I could in my miserable Vietnamese. I clambered over my backpack and out of the basketlike passenger seat, unwilling to pay him before I knew if this place was, indeed, the home of the only person I knew in Hanoi. The cyclo driver shrugged, then twisted around on his bicycle seat and immediately leapt into a discussion with the people gathered around a sidewalk tea stall across the narrow street. "She's an American. Came here to study Vietnamese. Twenty-nine years old. Not married yet," he told them, making quick work of all the information I had given him on the ride over. I stood for a moment, looking around. I remembered Hanoi from my previous visit, in the late winter two years before, and much that I saw around me now felt familiar. Today's sky was the same impermeable gray, the color of the rice porridge I'd watched people swallow quickly on their way to work. The air had the same chilly moistness, carrying hints of motorbike exhaust, overripe fruit, and chicken broth simmering all day over tiny charcoal stoves. Across the road, a group of pale-faced old women sat at the tea stall. They wore scarves around their heads and held tiny cups of Hanoi tea between their fingers. I remembered that tea as well. In Saigon, people had drunk endless glasses of iced tea. At restaurants and sidewalk food stalls, every order, even coffee, came with tea. But Saigon tea was weak as water, barely yellow. The copper-colored Hanoi tea was a different drink entirely, whiskey strong and drunk in shots. On my first trip to Hanoi, I had sipped it and gagged. I could remember a lot about Hanoi, but I felt shaky anyway. My earlier visit to Vietnam had lasted only a month. Now, I was moving here. The difference between visiting and living in Vietnam felt immense, and very scary. I'd had big dreams to come back to this country to live. But now, I only felt small and fragile and very foreign. I couldn't satisfy myself with a quick jaunt through the famous sites and then a taxi ride back to the airport. I had to find a job. A home. Some friends. From across the road, the tea drinkers stared at me with speculative interest. Pulling my scarf tighter against the wind, I wished I could take a little break, maybe just sleep in my own bed tonight in San Francisco, then try Hanoi again tomorrow. But the tea drinkers didn't disappear. One of them, perched on a stool with her knees tightly folded against her chest, lifted a hand and briskly waved me toward the gate. Her face, as infinitely lined as cracked porcelain, broke into a great, wide grin, revealing two rows of deeply red, betel-nut stained teeth. I looked at her for a moment, forcing my mouth into a smile of its own. Then, mustering all my courage, I turned around, walked over to the doorbell, and rang. I'd come all this way. It was too late to change my mind. After a minute, I heard a shuffling behind the gate. A latch turned and a husky, pale-skinned teenage girl appeared in the doorway. She looked out at me in shock. I stammered in Vietnamese, "Uh. Is Tra here? I want to meet Nguyen Thi Tra." The expression on her face did not change. "Nguyen Thi Tra!" yelled the cyclo driver from behind me. The girl's mouth twitched in some form of recognition, and she disappeared again behind the gate. I had met Nguyen Thi Tra less than a year
Flap Copy
It wasnIt until the early 90Is that the war-torn country etched into the historical memory of every American finally opened its doors to the world. Journalist Dana Sachs had been haunted by her limited understanding of Vietnam culled from bits and pieces of the evening news and quick summaries in high school history. She decided she had to get to know Vietnam and its people from the inside out. SheId anticipated meeting with stares and hostility as an American in Vietnam. She hadnIt anticipated becoming entranced, so entranced that she moved to Hanoi.The House on Dream Street is SachIs heartfelt account of how she settled in with a Vietnamese family, learned the language, and made a place for herself in IenemyO territory. And then, when she least expected it, she fell in love. With vivid descriptions of the tastes, sounds, smells, and images of Vietnam, Sachs reveals the beauty of a country long off-limits to Americans. Part love story, part social commentary, SachIs memoir explores the tenuous balance between old and new Vietnam. But above all, The House on Dream Street tells the story of a woman learning to know her own heart.
First Chapter
1. Through the Green Gate The cyclo pulled to a stop in front of an enormous green gate. I turned around and looked at the driver, but he only gave me a smug smile from his seat on the pedicab. "This is number four," he said, gesturing toward the address beside the gate. I glanced at the number, then at the address in my hand, then glared at him. When he had first approached me as I stepped off the bus in central Hanoi, he had insisted that my destination was ten kilometers away and that he, in turn, deserved a hefty fee for pedaling me there. But we had traveled less than a kilometer and arrived in five minutes. "Stay here," I said as sternly as I could in my miserable Vietnamese. I clambered over my backpack and out of the basketlike passenger seat, unwilling to pay him before I knew if this place was, indeed, the home of the only person I knew in Hanoi. The cyclo driver shrugged, then twisted around on his bicycle seat and immediately leapt into a discussion with the people gathered around a sidewalk tea stall across the narrow street. "She's an American. Came here to study Vietnamese. Twenty-nine years old. Not married yet," he told them, making quick work of all the information I had given him on the ride over. I stood for a moment, looking around. I remembered Hanoi from my previous visit, in the late winter two years before, and much that I saw around me now felt familiar. Today's sky was the same impermeable gray, the color of the rice porridge I'd watched people swallow quickly on their way to work. The air had the same chilly moistness, carrying hints of motorbike exhaust, overripe fruit, and chicken broth simmering all day over tiny charcoal stoves. Across the road, a group of pale-faced old women sat at the tea stall. They wore scarves around their heads and held tiny cups of Hanoi tea between their fingers. I remembered that tea as well. In Saigon, people had drunk endless glasses of iced tea. At restaurants and sidewalk food stalls, every order, even coffee, came with tea. But Saigon tea was weak as water, barely yellow. The copper-colored Hanoi tea was a different drink entirely, whiskey strong and drunk in shots. On my first trip to Hanoi, I had sipped it and gagged. I could remember a lot about Hanoi, but I felt shaky anyway. My earlier visit to Vietnam had lasted only a month. Now, I was moving here. The difference between visiting and living in Vietnam felt immense, and very scary. I'd had big dreams to come back to this country to live. But now, I only felt small and fragile and very foreign. I couldn't satisfy myself with a quick jaunt through the famous sites and then a taxi ride back to the airport. I had to find a job. A home. Some friends. From across the road, the tea drinkers stared at me with speculative interest. Pulling my scarf tighter against the wind, I wished I could take a little break, maybe just sleep in my own bed tonight in San Francisco, then try Hanoi again tomorrow. But the tea drinkers didn't d
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2000-09-15:
Yet another American goes to Asia for a year or so and must write about the experience. This time the trip is to Hanoi, Vietnam, where Sachs (journalism and Vietnamese literature, Univ. of North Carolina, Wilmington) makes the usual observations: people staring at her, the difficulties of the language, the natives speaking poor English but wanting her to teach them, the strange food served to her, and the kindness she finds. She also has the requisite romantic encounter. The author makes much of being in former enemy territory, though other Asian countries have also been enemies of the United States. She also makes too much of feeling at home even though she stays only six months, goes back to the United States for a year, and then returns to Hanoi for another six months or so. Nevertheless, Sachs is an engaging and sensitive writer who tells her story ably. Recommended for larger public libraries.DKitty Chen Dean, Nassau Community Coll., Garden City, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2000-08-11:
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 bikeÄthe 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 VietnamÄthe war-torn country she knew from TVÄhaunts 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 theseÄand there are many of themÄSachs bravely renders Vietnam through fresh eyes. Agent, Sarah Lazin. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, August 2000
Library Journal, September 2000
Booklist, October 2000
Chicago Tribune, October 2000
Washington Post, January 2001
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Dana Sachs went to Hanoi when tourist visas began to be offered to Americans; she was young, hopeful, ready to immerse herself in Vietnamese culture. She moved in with a family and earned her keep by teaching English, and she soon found that it was impossible to blend into an Eastern culture without calling attention to her Americanness--particularly in a country where not long ago she would have been considered the enemy. But gradually, Vietnam turned out to be not only hospitable, but the home she couldn't leave. Sachs takes us through two years of eye-opening experiences: from her terrifying bicycle accidents on the busy streets of Hanoi to how she is begged to find a buyer for the remains of American "poes and meeas" (POWs and MIAs). The House on Dream Street is also the story of a community and the people who become inextricably, lovingly, a part of Sachs's life, whether it's her landlady who wonders why at twenty-nine she's not married, the children who giggle when she tries to speak the language, or Phai, the motorcycle mechanic she falls for. The House on Dream Street is both the story of a country on the cusp of change and of a woman learning to know her own heart.
Unpaid Annotation
An intimate look at a Vietnam--a country in the midst of social and political upheaval--as seen through the eyes of a young woman from Memphis struggling to establish a life and a home in contemporary Hanoi.
Main Description
Dana Sachs went to Hanoi when tourist visas began to be offered to Americans; she was young, hopeful, ready to immerse herself in Vietnamese culture. She moved in with a family and earned her keep by teaching English, and she soon found that it was impossible to blend into an Eastern culture without calling attention to her Americanness--particularly in a country where not long ago she would have been considered the enemy. But gradually, Vietnam turned out to be not only hospitable, but the home she couldn't leave. Sachs takes us through two years of eye-opening experiences: from her terrifying bicycle accidents on the busy streets of Hanoi to how she is begged to find a buyer for the remains of American "poes and meeas" (POWs and MIAs). THE HOUSE ON DREAM STREET is also the story of a community and the people who become inextricably, lovingly, a part of Sachs's life, whether it's her landlady who wonders why at twenty-nine she's not married, the children who giggle when she tries to speak the language, or Phai, the motorcyle mechanic she falls for. THE HOUSE ON DREAM STREET is both the story of a country on the cusp of change and of a woman learning to know her own heart.
Table of Contents
Prologuep. 1
Through the Green Gatep. 5
The House on Dream Streetp. 15
Navigationp. 39
The Four Stages of Lovep. 61
Pilgrimsp. 106
War Storiesp. 132
Liberation Daysp. 161
A Typhoon and a Full Moonp. 175
Private Roomsp. 195
Dreams, and Waking Upp. 217
Shifting Positionsp. 241
New Arrivalsp. 268
Firecrackers on Dream Streetp. 300
Epiloguep. 339
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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