Early on in this biography, we learn how chuffed Donald Trump was to find himself in Hanoi where there were "tremendous crowds" and "so much love". POTUS45 checked into the Hotel Metropole, where Graham Greene had once stayed, and was (of course), immediately dubbed 'the unquiet American'.
The title of Greene's novel had already, in a sense, inferred this gag. The first time it is used by Fowler, the narrator, he says he uttered it as one might 'blue lizard' or 'white elephant'.
“I noticed that he was wearing a Hawaii shirt, even though it was comparatively restrained in colour and design. I was surprised: had he been accused of un-American activities?”
It was The Power And The Glory that alerted me to the fact that Greene was one of the greats. Yet it is as messy, wrong-headed and flawed as it is wonderful. The Quiet American on the other hand is fractally good: every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence, every word is close to perfection in pretty much exactly the same way.
Was I really involved? I am not sure I was, beyond that feeling of excitement. "Was that a grenade?" Pyle asks. And I was constantly aware how others I came across emitted that same fizzle of youthful engagement, usually yet more intensely, to the extent that they appeared to have projected themselves into an imaginative space that differed markedly from the one they were actually in.
The source of all this — then as now, disturbance and struggle — appeared more appealingly picturesque than contemporary equivalents.
Yet I sometimes wonder if I am more involved now, in spite of the manner with which the superficial thrill has waned.
Fowler was in little doubt...
“One forgets so quickly one’s own youth: once I was interested myself in what for want of a better term they call news. But grenades had staled on me; they were something listed on the back page of the local paper...
“You know, if you live in a place for long you cease to read about it.”
(The cocktail above @catrinmid : Mezcal Mil Amores, pomegranate juice and chile syrup.)