Mango love

Miami’s Fairchild Tropical Garden hosts its 12th annual International Mango Festival this weekend. Mango bowl photo, taken from Fairchild's websiteI’m feeling a little homesick (funny how that feeling always dissipates within an hour of my stepping off the plane at Miami International Airport), so in honor of the occasion here’s a bit from Lucy Ellmann’s Man or Mango: A Lament:

[T]he English have no respect for writing. It embarrasses them — something onanistic about it. WANKERS. Tell ’em you’re tring to write something and they invariably smile and scoff. Jeez, I’m used to reverence! Obeisance! The writer is GOD in some remote parts of America…. No wonder Jane Austen hid her stuff under blotting paper: didn’t want every philistine who happened to drop in to SCOFF. This is also why people write at night — before the scoffers get up.


The creative-writing racket hasn’t really hit England yet but I was able to get a writer-in-residence sinecure at London University this year, thereby enabling me to stay in the country a bit longer.

All I have to do is go over there once or twice a week and encourage the poor slobs to write. Of course most of them need no encouragement — they need to SLOW DOWN. I’m pretty envious of their ideas. My envy makes me irascible. In fact I’ve scared off my best student.

At first she seemed to be getting a bit of a crush on me, which I don’t LIKE but was calm about. Then she stopped coming altogether. Not only was she the brightest spark in a none-too-sparkly class, but she left all her WORK behind for me to read and I’d like to discuss it with her.

Last time I saw her was on the street one night after she’d just missed another of my classes. She was standing around outside a pub with some dopey-looking guys. I would have ignored her, but she called out to me, started telling me about some story she claimed to be writing, wanted to tell me all about it over the noise of the traffic. She probably meant this as some sort of atonement for missing the class, but I flipped.

‘There you go,’ I roared at her, ‘just throwing your ideas away on some wet roadside! Either write it or shut up about it.



Haven’t seen her since. What a jerk — and now I’m stuck with her NOTEBOOK.

One of her stories is about an erect penis that runs amok in a crowd of Saturday shoppers, then seeks sanctuary in a dank, dark cellar where it meets a lot of other erect peises, makes some good lifelong pals (erect penises turn out to have a much less competitive streak than you might think!), and together they set off for a faraway land where they won’t get arrested anymore and can be themselves, outin the open. They roll, bounce, limp and burrow their way to a better life.

She was wasted on those dopey guys.

From the absent student’s notebook:


In what way is a man more than a mango?
Is he more useful about the house?
Is he more beautiful?
Is he as generous and obliging as this succulent fruit gently ripening on your window sill?
Is his ripeness as tender?
Will your children like him as much as they’d like a mango?
Has he got anything to offer in atonement for not being a mango?

Mangoes do not lord it over everybody at committee meetings.
Nor do they monopolize the conversation at dinner.
With even the most lethargic of men, there is still the threat of physical force.
Not so with a mango.
A mango’s ears do not stick out.
A woman does not have to wear lipstick and high heels in order to spend an evening with a mango.
A woman does not have to wash her hair for a mango.
I have only known one mango that was no good.

(Thanks to Emma for the recent loan of the book.)


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.