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What Ed Bennett wrote:
In "The Mursi of Ethiopia", a child listens to adults sitting around a radio. The conversation moves
from Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" to basketball. In the midst of this conversation with two men
trying to impress each other with their knowledge, a child squints through her glasses at a National
Geographic article about an Ethiopian tribe. What could have become a jumble of metaphors is instead
a tableau of middle class family life. The arguing adults become background noise while the child is
immersed in an exotic adventure where both the Morsi and Middle Class merge.
The Mursi of Ethopia
by Martina Reisz Newberry
My Uncle Gib said maybe they were all touched in the head in New Jersey,
but in Cleveland nobody he knew believed a word of it.
WAR OF THE WORLDS was a joke, he said. They broadcast it
the night before Halloween for Chrissakes, so wasn't that a clue?
His wife said she'd been a little scared. Uncle Gib laughed, hacked, cleared his throat.
"Well, hell kid, (he always called her 'kid'), you were in Cincinnati.
They'll believe any goddam thing in Cincinnati. Taft and 3.2% beer came
out of Cincinnati.' My dad had to speak up then.
He said 'I don't know much about science fiction, but the Cincinnati Bearcats have
Oscar Robertson and he's no slouch. 32.6 average in college.'
what my dad didn't know about science fiction,
my uncle didn't know about basketball.
I sat quiet and squinted through my thick glasses into a National Geographic Magazine.
Girls with lip plates and bare breasts stared into the camera lens.
Their hands looked skilled. Their white, clay-covered faces said they understood everything.
On the ride back home, my father talked about Orson Welles
and The Panic Broadcast. Dad said he didn't know anyone in New Jersey,
but the whole War-of-the-Worlds idea seemed pretty dumb to him.
Behind my closed eyes, I saw the flash of white smiles. I hoped very hard
that the Mursi of Ethiopia never heard that broadcast.
Ed's full review can be viewed here: