Commentary Magazine


Article Preview

The Expatriate

- Abstract

The first thing he did when he stepped off the hot grimy train was to go to the public washroom and clean up. Then, while waiting for his luggage to come up from the baggage car, he got on the phone and started calling his friends. It had been over a year since he had heard from any of them and he was anxious to know how they were making out After all, he had grown up with them and they were still his closest friends. During the war they kept in constant touch with one another. One couldn’t sit over a salami sandwich and a cup of hot tea and argue destiny, so one wrote letters. Letters that were forwarded from every part of the world, letters that were often retyped into a dozen carbons, and so reached the whole gang.

But now the war was over and nobody wrote letters any more. Letter-writing had died in the same imperceptible manner as their solemn wartime pledges to change the face of the earth. And now, instead, whenever he came into town, once, maybe twice a year, there was a general get-together. His friends chipped in for a couple of cases of beer, some whisky, port wine, invited their wives, girl friends, and spent the night spouting half-remembered college texts reimpressing themselves with their awful hate of the world. . . .



About the Author