(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Dr. Willis Mosby is in Oaxaca, Mexico, on a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation, writing his memoirs. Mosby’s memoirs depict him as one of the brightest, most observant people in the twentieth century. He is “erudite, maybe even profound; [had] thought much, accomplished much—had made some of the most interesting mistakes a man could make in the twentieth century.”

Mosby thinks that he must now put some humor into his memoirs. He has told about his early life: shaking hands with Generalissimo Francisco Franco during the Spanish Revolution; having experiences in the Office of Strategic Services, the U.S. organization for intelligence gathering and secret operations created during World War II; and describing President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as having limited vision during the war. During the war, Mosby argues, “the Nazis were winning because they had made their managerial revolution first. No Allied combination could conquer, with its obsolete industrialism, a nation that had reached a new state of history and tapped the power of the inevitable, etc.” Although Mosby admits that the concentration camps had been deplorable, he thinks they show that Germany had rational political ideas. After the war, he expected a high government appointment but was disappointed. Princeton University also fired him because, he thinks, his mode of discourse upset the academic community.

Now Mosby begins to write about 1947 in Paris and Hyman Lustgarten, whom he considers to be a funny man. An American from New Jersey, Lustgarten was a follower of the communistic philosophy of Karl Marx. In 1947, Lustgarten was in Europe trying to make a fortune as a capitalist. When Mosby met him, Lustgarten was working for the U.S. Army, doing something involving cemeteries, although Mosby is not sure what. On the side, Lustgarten invested all of his and his mother’s money in an illegal...

(The entire section is 778 words.)