Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Thoughts on a page turner ...

I am almost finished with Graham Greene's novel The Comedians, and while not his best work, it bears up to scrutiny. Several years ago, I tried to read as many of his novels as I could, but given my habit of buying more books than I can read, I had a few of his works left unopened on my shelf.

What led me to the novel was this review of the last of a three-part biography of Greene.

Green's antipathy toward Americans was no secret. His American characters wander the world in a fog of blind idealism, wielding the shiv of naiveté. They support causes for their symbolism and impose sunny scenarios on a world far more complex and bleak than they are willing to acknowledge. Thus his American characters often careen through life oblivious to the death and destruction they leave in their wake.

No one would argue that Greene's depiction of Americans was fully fleshed out, but he did touch upon the dark side of the optimistic, can-do spirit that Americans so cherish about themselves.

This virulent strain of American idealism can now be found in the corridors of Washington D.C., specifically among the neocon cabal in the Bush administration that guides American foreign policy. The belief that American troops would be greeted as liberators and showered with a confetti of flowers upon their arrival in Iraq is so ludicrous it could have easily been a line from one of Greene's execrable, pioneering villans.

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