Academic journal article TriQuarterly

Why I'm in Vietnam: Answer 4/hue

Academic journal article TriQuarterly

Why I'm in Vietnam: Answer 4/hue

Article excerpt

Say it's because of Walter Cronkite and his reporting of the Tet Offensive, 1968: "Shelling the Imperial Capitol of Hue," "Storming the Citadel," "Destruction of the Forbidden City." The words hovered just at the boundary of my ordinary vocabulary like a sad poem in a foreign language where the unfamiliar phrases assume a kind of isolate sovereignty, and are left unapproached, out of laziness, out of fear. Say that Hue became for me a symbol of grace and dignity, of irreplaceable treasure ruinate; and I kept it symbolic, safe, untouched in my mind as a miser's gold.

Now I'm taking the scenic route from Da Nang to Hue on a winding road over three mountains, clinging to the back of a motorcycle, behind the ebullient and tenacious Mr. Tam who comes with a tiny notebook of recommendations from previous passengers and a letter proving the U.S. Army employed his father as a forklift operator for three years. This may be symbolic, but it is not safe. The road is narrow with hairpin curves and all traffic favors the middle; we slip so closely by the side of an approaching bus that I can feel the rough sleeve of the bus helper who leans in his troubleshooting position out the rear door. I am proud of myself for limiting my reaction to a mere courageous gasp, but Mr. Tam half-turns his head and scolds, "Don't move! Don't worry! I know this road! …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.