Just read this today over at Fanzine, and it knocked me out. Read it.
I just read this story this morning, and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s about a white American living in Paris after WWII, who befriends a recently arrived black jazz musician and his wife and ultimately is rejected by both. Why? Well, that’s sort of the gray area, but it seems to be about race and authenticity. The American, Murray, wants to be part of the cool jazz scene of Paris, and he seems to be trying real hard to befriend the musicians with offers of hash and records to listens to, tips on where to go to eat, where to rent a room. When the piano player Buddy offers his wife, piano lessons and himself to Murray, he doesn’t bite. And then it’s like, “What do you want?” The buildup of the friendship, and then Buddy’s rejection of Murray at the end sort of leaves me with the feeling of getting punched or smacked really suddenly and unexpectedly. The story just knocked the air out of me. I was wondering to myself if this whole thing actually happened to Terry Southern when he was an expat. Read it. It’s in Southern’s collection Red-Dirt Marijuana and Other Tastes.
This story, “North of,” by Marie-Helene Bertino, Jim Shepard’s selection for Recommended Reading, is a knockout. I read it a few years ago in the Mississippi Review, and it blew me away. I’m happy to see it highlighted here.