444 Chapters
Medium 9781743603604

The Paris Tattoo

Berendt, John Lonely Planet Publications ePub

A room with two beds usually meant a room with a bed and a cot. Marti Kavaler and I were very diplomatic about trading off – if I had the bed in Copenhagen, she got the bed in Strasbourg. I remember that she had the bed in Paris, but that was a small victory. It was a terrible bed, a terrible cot, a terrible fourth floor walk-up in the only pension we could afford. The bathroom was not just down the hall, but down the hall and down a flight of stairs. On the bright side, the location was good (the location was Paris), and we were nineteen, so our standards were still breathtakingly low. Marti and I scarcely had known one another before we embarked on our three-month summer adventure in 1983, but by the end of the first week we had become a single unit. We shared our toothpaste, our guidebooks, our croissants. We had one mass-market copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude, and when I finished a chapter I ripped it out and handed it to Marti, unless she was a chapter ahead and so ripped it out for me.

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Medium 9781927068304

No Biscuit Blues

Lloyd Ratzlaff Thistledown Press ePub


One Sunday afternoon when I was ten or twelve years old, in an upstairs bedroom of my uncle’s farmhouse I found a blood-red booklet titled The Lake of Fire, which nearly impaired forever my capacity to trust. The cover showed contorted bodies leaping and falling back into a lake of molten sulphurous bubbles, and a man at the head of a long line flailing at hell’s brink with eyes bulging and fists grabbing the air. The text told how the doomed would try to escape, how they would be driven down nevertheless by the order of the Judge: “Away!” I tried to fathom this Jekyll-and-Hyde Christ, who was said to be compassionate and forgiving though we have sinned against Him, yet who would come with a sword in His mouth to smite the nations and tread the winepress of the fierce wrath of Almighty God.

About that time I also received a monthly magazine from a well-known evangelical organization. One especially vivid issue showed a great stone pyramid with a legion of steps mounting to a platform at its top, where Jesus or God sat on a resplendent and awful throne. On judgment day, the writer said, I would be summoned from an ocean of people to mount those steps, to hear my life reviewed in the presence of celestial, terrestrial, and infernal powers — and what chance would I have there, shrivelled up before Omnipotence unleashed? Like the Rev. Sprague in Tom Sawyer, my tradition “dealt in limitless fire and brimstone and thinned the predestined elect down to a company so small as to be hardly worth the saving.”

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Medium 9780253019042

Part 2 Complicated Places

Douglas A. Wissing Quarry Books ePub

Bennie Zebelle of Muncie, Indiana, poses with a basket of tomatoes in the Agriculture Building at the 1947 Indiana State Fair.

STATE FAIRS ARE THE CONFLUENCE OF THE GARISH AND THE profound, a carnivalesque celebration of life amidst the drive for recognized excellence. Regal princesses with tiaras pass through the neon-lit Midway throngs. Burly farmers herd Brobdingnagian boars. Kids nap beside their brushed and curried heifers who gaze with long lashes at their resting guardians. Barkers howl the wonders of the sideshow; ladies quite alluring give a desultory bump. A swain with his first sideburns wallops the carnival game, trying to win a stuffed bear for his admiring sweetheart. Trailed by her two apple-cheeked boys, a young mother proudly paces through the crowd with a blue ribbon carefully placed across her prize pie.

The smells of corndogs and elephant ears mingle with the electric scent of cotton candy. Wood smoke, sopped sauce, and cooking pork chops waft from the barbecue stands. An unmistakable tang announces the animal buildings.

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Medium 9780253018632

On the Sounds of Haiti · Fiction

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

excerpt from La belle amour humaine (2011)

Lyonel Trouillot

Translated from French by Laurent Dubois

IN THIS EARLY passage from Lyonel Trouillot’s recent novel La belle amour humaine, a Haitian guide, who has just picked up a European visitor at the airport, offers this typology of the sounds of Port-au-Prince.

. . . HERE, WHERE life is afraid of silence. Here, if you wake up unprepared to go into battle, there is no life ahead. Bread is hunted like prey, and since there is not enough for everyone, noise has replaced hope. What you saw at the airport, twenty porters for a single suitcase, babbling in every language, that’s nothing. Wait until you see the city center. We’ll have to cross it, wade through the noise until we get to the Northern station. Despite their best efforts, foreigners often lose their sense of hearing as they confront things, animals, humans all equal in their right to make a din. Pots and pans. Mufflers. Shouters selling everything, from elixirs to antibiotics by way of skin-lightening cream and pills that make you fat. Bureaucrats from the mayor’s office chasing away market-women selling grains, fruits, and vegetables on the sidewalk. The speeches of volunteers from the Public Health department celebrating the virtues of mother’s milk and hand-washing. No one can listen all at once to so much noise in opposition, in contradiction, puncturing your eardrums to stuff your head with the illusion of movement. The lines in front of the Immigration Office and the Ministry of Social Affairs, the threats of security agents and the reactions of the crowd—go screw yourself, we’ve been waiting for weeks. Motorcycle-taxis threading their way between cars. Money-changers who sell you counterfeit money at the precise daily rate and wave their bills in the faces of passersby to attract clients. Traffic police chatting with their mistresses in the middle of the street. Pedestrians who run into each other and argue about whose fault it was. In the city center, noise is like poverty, you never get to the end of it. Whenever you think you’ve circumscribed poverty in the neighborhoods built for it, it overflows and stands up elsewhere. Noise, here, is the same way. There’s no way to make a list. The cistern trucks that whine and drip as they climb the hills. Big children. Little children. The still-children who make children. Errant bullets. Crazy prophets announcing the end of the world and reproaching you for not having accepted Jesus as your personal savior. The sirens of official motorcades. Sidewalk vendors’ radios, spitting out the cycle of bad news and winning lottery numbers. The crowd shouting after a thief. The thief who slips into the crowd and shouts louder than anyone else. Dog fights—on one side the small ones, on the other the big, just as it is among human beings, the small ones who run away crying about their defeat before charging back to be beaten once again by the big ones. The audience made up of porters, and the unemployed who are sick of seeing the same spectacle, even if it’s free, and pick up sticks to disperse the crowd. And like life, noise has its moods. If you pay attention, you’ll be able to distinguish between sounds of rage and those of waiting or fatigue. Here, noise is the only proof of the difficult duty of existing, and it never rests. When you’ve lost everything else, there’s nothing but time to lose. Listen to the sound of lost time. Soul-less shoes scraping the pavement. Droves. Demonstrations. Widows marching on the Champ de Mars demanding justice for their assassinated husbands, for whom living didn’t do them much good but whose tragic death has made sympathetic; victims of swindlers at the Treasury waiting in vain for their investments to be reimbursed; garbage collectors demanding a month of back pay walking in the garbage. Soccer-game commentators advertising imported rice and mantègue and bark even when nothing is happening on the field. Compas. The crazed decibels of public buses. The sizzle of wrought-iron welders’ soldering irons plugged into clandestine outlets. The agents from the electrical company unplugging the cables. Gatherings around epileptics fallen stiff in front of stores. Even death and nostalgia are part of the concert . . . Listen. All these sounds of life making fun of life. What it was and what it still is . . . The ‘yesterday it was’ of old men who cross the street with eyes lost in the paradise of memory and get yelled at by drivers. The fans of Vieux Tigre (le Violette) and the fans of Vieux Lion (le Racing) who talk only about old times because, today, despite their pompous names of jungle animals, Vieux Lion, my ass, Vieux Tigre, my eye, are nothing more than peaux de chagrin. The sad steps of shoes white with dust of poor parents following the sluggish hearse of the funeral procession. A naked woman, crying and telling passersby—pray for me, mister, understand me madam—the story of a mad love affair. Roving music bands who don’t wait for Mardi Gras to offer music. Students sent home from private schools because of lack of payment wandering the streets and making up new nicknames for the mad. The mad who turn around and pursue the students, throwing stones and insults. The . . .

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Medium 9780253020659

Conclusion: “White Sea of the Middle” or “Wide Sea to Meddle In”?

Hakim Abderrezak Indiana University Press ePub

The works discussed in Ex-Centric Migrations provide a vision not solely of the other but of the other continent as well. Maghrebi works that treat the notion of clandestinity have presented the European Eldorado in its declination from “a country of light” to a land of disillusionment. It is the latter vision that has been the focus of the contemporary cinematic, literary, and musical productions examined here. In response to the old notion of Eldorado (the French one), which bred mythical stories that emigrants brought with them on their short visits back home, artists have crafted a “new” Eldorado—the Maghreb. The latter construction is a core theme in music such as Raï n’b and in films such as Bensalah’s Il était une fois dans l’oued. This conception of the “new Eldorado” tackled explicitly via musical and cinematic representations is an original one, which lies in sharp contrast to the portrayal of the global South as a place that individuals desire to leave.

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