Graham Greene -- The Quiet American
This one has been on my must-read list for a while. I wrote my MA thesis on Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, and I hold onto a lingering interest in the Vietnam War and Vietnam War lit. The Quiet American is pre-American involvement in the war, set in the 1950s when the French were still trying quite frantically to hold onto their colonial power and the Americans were just beginning to dip their toes into the whole mess. It was an interesting counterpoint to the many Vietnam War memoirs and novels that I've read -- reading it was something like knowing that a runaway train is careening toward you and yet not being able to do anything about it.
Anyway, the book was melancholy, but in a lovely way, if that makes sense. Like listening to sad music when you're not actually sad-- when you just sort of give yourself over to a blue afternoon. Greene's style is quite lyrical and he says a lot without actually coming right out and saying it, which I like. I tend to get irritated with stories that have too much narration -- let me figure it out on my own! This book reminded me a lot of Hemingway. Not so much in writing style -- Greene is much less terse than Papa Ernest. But in the themes of the story -- sad men in a sad war. I was going to put a couple of my favorite quotes from the book in this entry, but I've managed to leave it at home. Oh well.