“International Travelers’ Handy Phrase-Book” / Memorable Fancies #456

To be Translated into the Language of any Uncivilized (i.e., developing) Country, to Make Sure You Get What You Want: At the airport: Please. Where are the toilets? Thank you. I have nothing to declare. I wish a taxicab. I am in a hurry. Thank you. How much do I owe you? That is too much. Here is (five, ten, fifteen) Thank you. Please carry my bags into the hotel. Thank you. Here is a coin. Think nothing of it.     # At the hotel: I would like … [Read more...]

“Mina Remembers” / Memorable Fancies #439

(former French West Africa, early 1960s)      I remember — during the war the Germans came here, and the French learned to behave.      I could take the Germans, then. They didn’t have moods. They thought we were happy primitives, no more, and so they were free to be friendly with us if they wanted to. And so, sometimes, they were. Sometimes. All the Europeans’ houses back then, they had a little statue of Hitler, usually just his head, right in the middle of their dining room tables. … [Read more...]

“Land Without Shadows” / A Memorable Fancy / Dark and Unexpected Fiction #370

     The Borunna people refuse to acknowledge that they have shadows. They become angry when anthropologists mention their own shadows. There was a catastrophe a long time ago, they say, and their shadows fled to a faraway place.      Sometimes one of them admits, quietly, that he once looked back and saw his shadow. Other Borunnas regard such an admission as at least a breach of etiquette, perhaps a crime. The more educated Borunnas consider claiming to have a shadow a symptom of “mental … [Read more...]

“Property” / A Memorable Fancy #280

The newcomers came with their weapons and their wealth. They put up signs on our poor assortment of farms and villages: “This land is our property now.” And on our larger dwellings, then the smaller ones and even the hovels: “These homes are our property now.” Our President appeared on his balcony to reassure us. “It is good.” he said. “The newcomers will invest in this land, teach us trade, make us prosperous.” But then a sign miraculously appeared above him: “Your President is our property … [Read more...]