lunedì 30 gennaio 2017


Some Travel Notes appended to "Simenon’s America by Car"

Des Notes de voyage en annexe de "L’Amérique en auto de Simenon" 
Da Note di viaggio a margine de "L'America in auto di Simenon"

67 years after Simenon’s rambling travelogue, a few charming, succinct but telling vignettes appeared at the end of the 2013 book edition. In order to permit inclusion in a short post, two edited and abridged translations without commentary follow: 

1) From Simenon’s 1952 The Police in Arizona 
My Dear Chief, 
Do you mind if I send you what is neither a report nor a fairy tale? Sending items to police officials, ones I permit myself to call friends, would seem stiff and formal. And what arrogance it would be to offer such things to men who live every day with the most gripping human stories! This is merely a letter addressed to you for them, a sort of unpretentious postcard, but I confess with the after-thought that, if my cross-country babbling interests or amuses them, I will do it again willingly. Today’s is just an anecdote. In Arizona, where I lived for three years, life still resembles a cowboy movie. Away from the big centers, the county sheriff is the police. You’ve seen him at the cinema: broad-brimmed hat, tight pants, leather belt decorated with two big revolvers and a row of cartridges, and don’t forget the big silver star on the left chest. 
Every sheriff has the right to call upon helpers. Like most ranchers, I’ve been one of them. It’s often a stolen car, for instance. The procedure was and still is almost invariable: the sheriff calls one of his ranchers. ‘Look out! A car’s been stolen. The man’s armed. A dangerous character.’ The rancher pins his star on his shirt, loads his Colt .45, and jumps into his car or onto his horse. 
Hence, some time and some miles across the desert. No anger. No hate. A man has broken the law. He’s become a threat. It’s a question of stopping him. 
The stolen car skids and rolls over in a ditch. You rush up to it. If he’s hurt, you take care of him and it’s rare that a pint of whisky doesn’t come out of some pocket for his benefit. ‘Take it easy. The sheriff’s on his way. An ambulance, too.’ 
Afterwards, you chat a little. You down a shot. Back on your horse or in your car. At home, the wife asks, ‘Did you get him?’ You nod ‘yes’ and tend the livestock. 
You see, my dear Chief, this isn’t a crime novel. Just a small scribbled sketch. 
Consider me your respectful and friendly servant, 
Georges Simenon 

2) From Simenon’s 1952 Two Snapshots of American Life 
“A final memory. One evening, I reached Monterey. Tired from driving, I left my car beside the sidewalk without noticing the curbstone was painted yellow. When I came back, I found a paper under my windshield wiper. A ticket? Not exactly. The pre-printed card in effect said: You are a stranger in our town (They learned this from my license plate) and we welcome you, hoping you will like it here. We suggest you visit… (Here came a listing of local tourist attractions). We inform you, however, that parking where you did is forbidden, and in the case of a recurrence, we would have to make out a ticket.’ The chief of police signed it. That was all.” 

David P Simmons.

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