I wish it was simple just to say who I am, just to say my name is so-and-so and that makes you think of a certain kind of person that would be me. I think of other names and there’s no doubt about there being faces with them, clear faces, even if I didn’t already know who I was talking about: Kenneth (you can watch a Kenneth from the back row of a courtroom, and he’s damn good); Norma (and you’d never get the soft scoop of a Norma confused with a Nicole, who’d probably have hair in her armpits and think it’s sexy; that would really piss off the Norma I’ve got in mind because when she looks in the mirror, she tries to see a Nicole). I think of the name Nghi and I see a face (maybe you can’t, but I can, and she’s in the dark with shouting in the street and heat lightning out the window); even Joey, poor Joey, has a name that lets you see a part of him that maybe’s not there on the surface but is there just the same. He was more of a kid than me in some ways. Innocent under a stupid I-always-know-what-I’m-doing surface, like a Joey.
But me, I’ve got three names. And so I’ve got to go through all this bullshit just to start talking. I’m Anthony James Hatcher, Tony. I’m Vo Dinh Thanh. And I’m The Deuce. Don’t ask me which one I use. It’s too early for that. I’ve got to tell you some things first.
“Robert Olen Butler does not write urban fluff about yuppie ennui. His themes are large, like this country. His books are both vivid dramas and thoughtful anatomies of moments in our history that transformed us—for better or worse: labor uprisings in the Depression, atomic tests at Los Alamos. Now, in The Deuce, Butler brilliantly returns to a subject he’s dealt with before: that slow nightmare called Vietnam. The war’s long over, but for a boy born of an American GI and a Saigon bar girl, a boy called The Deuce, the cost in pain and anger is still very real. This novel is his story, and Butler’s telling it is a remarkable achievement of his imagination, bold and wise.”
– Michael Malone
“I’ll not soon forget this ritual journey through the stinking underbelly of New York City or the gusty kid who made that journey. The Deuce is a virtuoso performance by one of our finest writers.”
– Harry Crews