Phong Nguyen, "Memory Sickness"

You don’t need to teach this kid anatomy, he survived a war.

(from Agni 63)

We talk in rounds, each listening for our moment in the rhythm of the conversation. When I first came here, the customs official gave a long speech about local etiquette; since then, I’ve often heard people, on TV and at school, go on in this way for great lengths of time. Perhaps this is why they say we are quiet people—we are waiting for our turn to speak.

Well, the linear way the main character draws parallels between the sex ed/anatomy lesson and his own experience with grisly, bloody war is a bit contrived. It’s more like the kid’s written an essay than relating his train of thought. No matter, the story is punchy, fast-paced and unputdownable. And the ending passage is satisyingly grim and memorable. There are several moments like this, actually.
You should read this story. Here.

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