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Welcome to My Contri

Welcome to My Contri

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Welcome to My Contri

183 página
4 horas
Aug 27, 2012


Includes a new (2012) foreword and two additional stories in a collection described thus by The New York Times Book Review, Sunday, November 20, 1988:
“This frequently powerful collection of short stories enters Latin America as if through the rickety back door of a burlesque house: "Goo'mornin', all you wonnerful people," begins the title story as a tour guide leads his Anglo flock through the imaginary splendors of a city called Santo Abismo. The low-rent standup routine serves to lure unsuspecting readers to some pretty dank depths, and although the stories of violence draw from a familiar well (a peasant is mutilated, a village decimated, a rebellion plotted), when he turns to accidental clashes between conflicting cultures, Geoffrey Fox steps out on his own. Most fictional treatments of such encounters feature at least one ugly American, but "Welcome to My Contri" does not resort to easy cliché. The Northerners who appear here do not tramp carelessly on third world freedoms; instead, they inadvertently knock them over. A bit like characters from Graham Greene, they don't quite understand the rules by which others play the game, with the result that the game itself is deeply suspect. In this short and impressive work, Mr. Fox, who has taught Latin American politics and society at New York University, has created a memorable set of players who, while not natural antagonists (they often share the same dreams and goals), are still somehow bent on confrontation. Watching their sometimes vicious, often darkly humorous interactions leaves us thoroughly wrung out -- and aware that we are in the presence of a formidable new writer.” — JAMES POLK

Aug 27, 2012

Sobre el autor

"He was like a man who had served a term in prison or had been to Harvard College or had lived for a long time with foreigners in South America." ― Carson McCullers on Jake Blount, in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. After graduating from Harvard, I worked in Venezuela and other Latin American countries, finally getting a Ph.D. in sociology (Northwestern U.) and teaching and writing on Latin American themes. I began writing fiction later, including a book of short stories, Welcome to My Contri (reviewed in New York Times, 1988) and many other stories in print and online journals. I have also written five nonfiction books on Latin America and many articles and reviews for print and online media, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Nation and others. A Gift for the Sultan, my first published novel (2010), has been translated into Turkish and published by Nokta Kitap, Istanbul (2012). I am currently (2014) working on a new novel about the Paris Commune of 1871. I live in southeastern Spain.

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Welcome to My Contri - Geoffrey Fox

…Mr. Fox… has created a memorable set of players who, while not natural antagonists (they often share the same dreams and goals), are still somehow bent on confrontation. Watching their sometimes vicious, often darkly humorous interactions leaves us thoroughly wrung out — and aware that we are in the presence of a formidable new writer.

James Polk, The New York Times Book Review, Sunday, November 20, 1988

Welcome to My Contri

and Other Stories of Latin America

Geoffrey Fox

Published by Thoth Books at Smashwords

Copyright 2012 Geoffrey Fox

Cover design: Ernesto Pedalino

Discover other titles by Geoffrey Fox at Smashwords.com

Revised and expanded from the original paperback published by Hudson View Press, New York City, 1988. © 1988 Geoffrey Fox. This edition contains the full text of the original publication plus a new foreword and two additional stories.

This e-book is licensed for your personal use only. It is not to be re-sold or given away to others. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the work of this author. After you have read it, we hope you will leave your review on the Smashwords site.

Table of contents


¡Welcome to My Contri!

Welcome to My Contri

Incident on Mother's Day


One Night on Guacolda Street

The Republic of Morgania

Victoria De La Sierra

Valencia Afternoon




Bolivariations (La Zarzuela de los Libertadores)

Till I Seein’ You Again

Seein' you again: More stories of Latin America


A lua no céu da Baía


Welcome to My Contri was first published in 1988, near the end of an especially turbulent and violent period in Latin America. Guerrilla wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador were still underway or only recently concluded, General Pinochet was still governing Chile with heavy hand and violent methods, the Argentinian military junta of the dirty war on dissidents had only recently withdrawn from government but its minions continued to threaten journalists and witnesses of its crimes. The stories here, though fictions, reflect these tense realities, even if, in some cases, in a humorous tone. Incident on Mother’s Day, which must be the most disturbing of these stories, is based on reporting of an actual atrocity with in fact many more victims, combined with memories of a real conversation with a Central American mercenary.

The title story, Welcome to My Contri, had originally appeared in Fiction International, fall 1988; Incident on Mother’s Day and Popo were first published in Central Park, fall 1986 and spring 1988, respectively; and Valencia Afternoon in West Wind Review, spring 1987. The other eight stories were all making their first public appearance. Some are based on my personal experience as a community development worker in the barrios (shanty-town slums) of Caracas, my first post-college job and my first contact with Latin America, its culture and its language; Bolivariations, despite its comic-operetta form, is, I believe, a pretty accurate summary of the history of authoritarianism vs. rebellion in Venezuela from the time of Simón Bolívar’s first campaign up to the guerrilla war in that country in the 1960s. Contemporary "bolivarianos" may be annoyed or even enraged by this portrait of their hero. I hope so, anyway.

This was the first book by the start-up Hudson View Press and its editor Paul Hoeffel. Exceptionally for a small-press book by a new author, The New York Times Book Review selected it for review. (Small Presses in Short: Fiction, also reprinted here.) Other reviews appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, NACLA Report on the Americas, In These Times, the Buenos Aires Herald and other periodicals. Composer-playwright and Obie-winner Memrie Innerarity has developed the title story as a one-act musical drama for baritone and soprano, Cancion de la Zamura.

When Hudson View Press went out of business in the early 1990s, my friend and mentor, the late poet and literary critic Walter James Miller, secured the rights and made copies available through his Lintel Press. At Walter’s death in 2010, Lintel ceased operations, but, at this writing, those seeking the printed book can still find copies from diverse sellers on the Internet. This 25th anniversary e-book, issued by the newly-formed editorial collective Thoth Books, makes it again available, more widely and cheaply (no postage charge) and in this modern format.

This e-book reproduces the text exactly as in the print edition of 1988, except for correction of typographical errors and one word change. This means that some references are out of date: Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Michael Deaver and Charlton Heston have all died, and so no longer winter in the Zona de Oro of Santo Abismo (in the title story, Welcome to My Contri). And Marcos Pérez Jiménez, part of the cast of Bolivariations, also departed this life in 2001. The one word change is in the closing act of Bolivariations, in the Song of the Mantuanos, where the Mantuanos, Intelectuales and Generales all sing

We are all Liberators of the country from itself,

Defenders of the common good and of our private pelf.

An editorial slip in 1988 had changed pelf — an old word for riches dishonestly acquired — to self, which spoils the joke. A little thing, but it has been bothering me for a quarter of a century.

For this e-book we have added a couple of later stories on Latin American themes. Stairways appeared originally in Small Spiral Notebook, Vol. III, No. 1, Winter 2004; it features some of the same characters seen in Verbena and glimpsed in Bolivariations. The Brazil story, A lua no ceu da Baía (The Moon in the Sky Over Bahía) appeared in Exquisite Corpse, summer 2000.

¡Welcome to My Contri!

Welcome to My Contri

Goo' mornin', all you wonnerful people. On behalf of Exotic Tours, Incorporated, welcome to my beautiful contri.

My name, it is José Dolores Eustaquio Santa Cruz Contreras Echeverría. But you can call me Joe. I gone be your guide this mornin', for what we call our orientation tour, before you go off to see all the wonnerful things we got line up for you on your fabulous Southa the Border Off-Season Holiday.

Now, ladies an' gennulmen, this mornin' we are gone to take a tour of this beautiful port city, our capital, Santo Abismo, an' first we are gone drive along this beautiful new coastal highway, built in I957 by the president of our contri, mister don Alcibíades de la Calumnia. We call it after his name, the Carretera de la Calumnia.

On the right, ladies an' gennulmen, you see la Playa de la Tortuga, you call it Tortle Beach. It was here that Gumersindo Cabezas land in fifteen forty-two an’ discover our contri. Later I show you where Gumersindo Cabezas got eaten by the Wakuna Indians. It is a Mac Donald's restaurant there now.

Tortle Beach is also the place where your Marines come to Santo Abismo in nineteen thirteen, nineteen twenny seven an' nineteen fifty-six, to restore democracy to our beautiful contri.

When they come in nineteen sixty-six they surprise us, they land on 'nother beach, where they set up U.S. naval base that they still got here, so now we don' have no more trouble with changes of government like we did before. We are very grateful to Marines from your contri, because if we don’ have Marines, I think we just go on killin’ each other all the time even more than now.

Only poor people use Tortle Beach for swimmin' now, it use to be fancy swimmin' place but there is better place now, with not so much garbage an' broken ships, up by the big hotels.

On your left, dear people, you see the ol' Historic Zone of Santo Abismo, with all the people out on the streets an' all the bright colors. We don' take the bus up those streets because they are too skinny—like me, ha ha. You know how I get this way? I eat lots of beans, good red beans with chili sauce. You should try, you get to look like Joe. Not so skinny. But don' worry, you gone be here quite a while, no? On your fabulous Southa the Border Off-Season Holiday, you gone get a chance to go up to the ol' Historic Zone, tha’s parta the package, right? You gone see lotsa history of my contri on this trip. An' modern times, too, you gone see. So jus' relax an' enjoy.

Now, dear people, you see we still close to the Historic Zone, an' way up there on your left, you see the cathedral, San Jerónimo Abismal, patron saint of Santo Abismo. Jerónimo, is like Geronimo, what your troopers in the movies shout when they jump out of airplanes, no? In this contri, we got people jump out of airplanes too, when they do somethin' the government don' like, only they don' shout Geronimo. They shout "Socorro. That mean almos' same thing, no? We got very stric' government now. Tha's why we so grateful to American Marines. Some people think the designs on the cathedral towers are churriguerescos," that mean like with real fancy carvings like they use to make in the ol’ days, but really tha's just bullet holes, fifty caliber I think. Sometimes people get real excited about religion in my contri.

We use to go up to the Cathedral, so all the tourists could see our beautiful La Virgen del Abismo, but now all the police security checks they slow us down so much we don' have hardly any time left for shoppin', and you ladies wouldn' like that, would you? But I think ever'thin’ be better soon, it gone be more quiet aroun' here ever since the soldiers caught those terrorist nuns. Very dangerous, those hermanas, but they gone to be quiet now, I think.

We got somebody gone give you a briefin' on terrorism in my contri, tha's comin' up next on your schedule I think. You gone like that, very excitin'. You know, when the president of your contri come here, he say to all the reporters, You know, you'd be surprise. They all different contris down there. But here, on your Southa the Border Off-Season Holiday, you don' gotta worry about that, they all just one big beautiful contri, tha's why we call this our fabulous tour.

Now, dear people, we comin' to very especial section of Santo Abismo, the Reparto Logrero. The houses are high up this hill. You dear people on the right side of the bus, don' worry please, you see them when we come back. I’m so sorry, we cannot go up there, they have especial rule, no tourists. If you buy an apartment up there in Reparto Logrero, they give you a especial pink jeep. You can call on the telephone an’ people bring you your dinner, champagne, anythin' you want, in one of those pink jeeps. Ever’body have his own swimmin’ pool, bar, color television, an' guard with machine gun. You never have to go out. Very safe. Tha’s good for honeymoon, no?

Now pretty soon we comin’ to beautiful hotel here. We got Hilton, Holiday Inn, Marriott, all kinda hotel. Maybe little fancier than place where you stayin', but we got lots worse than that, believe me. We gone stop inna few minutes an' take a look at the most beautiful hotel of all, the Zamuro Real. While we drivin', I gone tell you the story about the Zamuro Real.

The zamuro is a big bird, you see. You call it buzzard. You know that bird? No, he’s not like a canary. More big.

Well, the Indians who use to live here, they worship that bird. An’ these Wakuna Indians, they believe there is one big, King Zamuro, and that is what we call the "Zamuro Real." This King Zamuro, he watch over the people, an' protec’ them. But in return, they got to take care of all the zamuros that the big King Zamuro send to keep an eye on ever'thin'. So every month, they got to kill some people an throw them to the zamuros. Sometimes they eat some first, like they did with Gumersindo Cabezas. That was a long time ago. We don’ have no Indians like that to no more. But we still got zamuros.

Oquei, ever'body, you can get out an' take a picture.We at the Zamuro Real now. You can get film for your Instamatics right inna hotel, you just go past where they got that big statue of the zamuro lookin' over the fountain an' they gotta store in there. ¿Oquei? But you gotta hurry, we got lotsa things to see.

Oquei, ever'body get back all right? You not here, you raise your hand. You Polish, raise your foot. Thassa joke. You don' gotta raise your hand. I said, you don' gotta raise your hand, or your foot either. Oquei, you funny guy, tha's all right. We all here to have a good time, right?

Now we gone back to the main part of town, but we go by a high road now, so I show you somethin' different. We gettin' to place I gone show you, somethin' that make Santo Abismo really especial.

Here we are. This is the Zona de Oro. This is where the famous rich people live. There you see, high on that cliff, with the pointed turrets, tha's the Dalai Lama's house,

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