Friday, June 23, 2017

the last book I ever read (Denis Johnson's Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond, excerpt twelve)

from Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond by Denis Johnson:

Certainly I hadn’t forgotten: I had a small fortune in U.S. hundreds folded into tiny strips and secreted in the waistline of my pants. It was too late for bribes. The Commissaire adjusted the large pad of lined white paper on the desk before him and asked me about my purpose and my activities in his country. I told them everything I could remember.

I gave them everyone’s name and explained what each one had done without any understanding that these simple acts the Liberians had performed on my behalf were condemnable. No, not these simple acts, but the names themselves condemned them, nothing more than their own names, because in much of the world nothing at all can actually be permitted, and simply to make your existence known is to demand punishment. But none of this occurred to me. I was angry and I wanted to make them work, writing down lots and lots of details, names and dates and places, my every move from the moment I stepped off the plane in Abidjan until I crossed the border three days later. In this way I betrayed every last person who had helped me.

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