A Case of One Man’s Cake is Another Man’s Poison
I first read the short story, “The Bureau d’Exchange de Maux” by Lord Dunsany, in the late seventies in a compilation, probably a Panther Books one. It’s staggering simplicity is matched by the masterful telling.
Later, in (a sort of) homage, Crawling Chaos used the acronym B.U.E.M. as a pseudonym for certain releases – probably because it sounds like ‘bum’, such was our level of humour at the time … Bureau Universel d’Exchanges de Maux was written on the sign above the doorway. ( Actually, we pronounced it ‘berm’ which is something totally different. The biggest berm I know of is the Morrocan Wall which you can see on Google Maps. It’s construction was a unique Arab-Israeli collaboration, bizarrely).
As well as this tale I can heartily recommend “The King of Elfland’s Daughter”, and my favourite Dunsany story, the Irish-placed tale, yearning for a simple romantic past of continuity, “The Curse of the Wise Woman”, which warns about treating the Earth right – or else.
The Bureau d’Exchange de Maux: by Lord Dunsany
I often think of the Bureau d’Exchange de Maux and the wondrously evil old man that sate therein. It stood in a little street that there is in Paris, its doorway made of three brown beams of wood, the top one overlapping the others like the Greek letter pi, all the rest painted green, a house far lower and narrower than its neighbours and infinitely stranger, a thing to take one’s fancy. And over the doorway on the old brown beam in faded yellow letters this legend ran, Bureau Universel d’Exchanges de Maux ….. The story is copyright until 2027. Buy it if you can find it!!