This story can be found in the collection Scar Vegas and Other Stories. It moves fast – Eliot's molars shatter in the fourth sentence. A nautical tale by an author who was briefly a Marine, it reads rather like a story by Robert Stone.
And it's a story that makes you feel guilty about Haiti, which is why I bring it up today. Haitian earthquake news here.
“The world loves me,” Eliot believes. He's an American, he is America, living life to the full, and it takes a shipwreck for him to find himself in a situation at all resembling normal life for the poor of Haiti.
He's rescued by Haitian refugees, who are themselves lost at sea. Their spokesman Alphonse says, “Because you are American, we are saved,” but it doesn't turn out that way.
"Will You Say Something, Monsieur Eliot?" really blew me away when I first read it in the “New Yorker” back in 1994. It's a story that makes you think about the difference between what a disaster means in one country as opposed to another. “Some countries are just not lucky,” as Joel Dreyfuss notes.
Interviewed by Robert Birnbaum a few years back, Tom Paine had some interesting comments about what it's like being a writer nowadays.