>Believers, by Nathan Leslie

>I’m falling behind on my Short Story Month schedule. Sorry! Can I blame the heat? Today I offer Believers by Nathan Leslie. I’ve got a review of this book coming out in RainTaxi this summer, so I don’t want to say too much. But let me focus on a single story.

“Cargo” is a story told in letters from Charles to Susan. Charles is among a small group shipwrecked on a Pacific island. They have found food and water, but I’m not quite sure what Charles is writing the letters on or what he’s doing with them when he finishes. The group is “captured” by natives, although they don’t seem too threatening. The natives chant their love for the U.S.A. and their desire for “cargo.” To their surprise, and ours, they meet an American who lives among the natives, an anthropologist, who explains the basics. The visitors continue to learn about the locals but feel more and more threatened by the desire for “cargo.” It’s an odd little story that doesn’t really go anywhere, other than to explore contrasts in cultures and beliefs, and the misunderstandings that result from poor communication. Which, basically, is what the whole book is about.

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