Regarding the story "Gathering Chestnuts"

Hi Jesse,

Thanks for the story. Did you actually eat those chestnuts?? There's a difference between the edible chestnuts and the ones from the Paris trees, which are called horse chestnuts and are supposed to be slightly toxic. The two kinds of chestnuts have different-shaped leaves, they are a different species.

So I'm interested in asking if you were OK after eating those horse chestnuts?

Anyway, our editors will read your story with interest.

Barbara B**k, editor


Hello Barbara,

I am in excellent health. Many thanks for your concern. As detailed in the story I am very much aware of the difference between the chestnut fit for human consumption and the inedible horse chestnut. During my years in Paris I became something of an expert on the various chestnut trees in the parks of the 11th and 20th arrondisements. I was keen to restrict my harvest to the chestnuts of the edible species, and refrain from gathering from Paris' more numerous horse chestnut trees.

In spite of what you may have heard, edible chestnuts do grow in Paris. The French woman who appears in the piece, who would later become my wife, consumed edible chestnuts with me on numerous occasions. Though my ex-wife now, she is in excellent health and I could perhaps put you into contact with her should you be so inclined, though the story of our separation and the dissolution of the marriage is one unfit for your magazine.

It must also be noted that the human consumption of horse chestnuts has in some cases resulted in death by toxic shock. There is significant literature on the subject to which I can direct you if you are interested. Indeed, we must take the threat of the horse chestnut seriously. In this regard, should you and your fellow editors accept the piece for publication, I must insist upon a legal disclaimer to proceed or follow it. Any disclaimer must necessarily absolve both author, myself, and publisher, you, from any liability related to the consumption of toxic horse chestnuts. Because the magazine and editorial team is based in France you may require additional liability protection. My unfamiliarity with French law means that I am unable to advise you in this regard.

Though I have not lived in Paris for many years now, it comes from a reliable source that the chestnut tree near the tomb of Raymond Radiguet from which I gathered chestnuts in the piece, has since been removed. Should a reader of your magazine be inspired by my piece, he will most likely only discover toxic horse chestnuts there. Unless he is an owner or caretaker of horses I would advise against any collection. No doubt we can both agree that the poisoning of one's readership is no way to grow a fledgling online literary magazine. In the event of any poisoning of an English-speaking expatriate, either accidental or intentional, please alert me and I shall be careful not to set foot in France again.

Yours in good health,



  1. Anonymous23.1.14

    Further proof that life is good. Many thanks for publishing this highly entertaining discourse.

  2. Our family here in Bloomington enjoyed this great correspondence. We live in awe of your talents and great adventures.


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