Monday, January 23, 2006

Graham Greene

Years ago, as an undergrad (Christ, 19 years ago!), I read The Quiet American and found it supoib; there were no heroes, just moderately or excessively villainous people acting out of self-interest while pretending to work for Higher Purposes, while cynical self-interested people (like the opium-addled Brit narrator) judged them for acting at all. For some reason I rushed out and bought five or six other novels by Greene at that time and left them on the shelves unread. I read one of these--The Power and the Glory--on flights to and from Mexico and enjoyed it immensely. One state in Mexico has outlawed the Church and rounded up all the priests--either they renounce their faith and get married, or they get shot. One priest remains, a deeply flawed man who nonetheless stays put and performs the sacraments where and when he can, despite serious doubts about his motivation. We follow his movements as he flees an informer and a Marxist lieutenant out to arrest him. If you like morally ambiguous characters, Greene is your bag, baby.

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