Monday, April 4, 2011

Graham Greene's Mexican Dud and Masterpiece

Travel writer Graham Greene took two looks at Mexico - one with his head and one with his heart. Guess which book is better. In The Lawless Roads, he whines, bitches and moans his way across the country. His hyperanalysis makes him (and us) miserable. Consider his take on Mexican food: everything has spicy salsa on it, but when you remove the hot sauce it's boring. No!

Graham admits that the passion of Mexican worship inspires him more than the high church snoozefest back home. Yet, his momentary enthusiasm is quickly subdued by logic. Latino disregard for the catagorical boundries between science, religion and magic constantly disgusts his intellectual sensibilities.

The Power and The Glory offers a more fictional trip but a more authentic experience. The color, heat and drama of southern Mexico come to life. A horny, drunken, doubting priest becomes our hero. On the run from socialist execution, he carries the Catholic sacraments village to village by donkey.

Once the disgrace of the priesthood, he wagers his life to become a bit more like the holy man who the peasants think he is. This incredible journey takes the reader trudging thru a swamp of political violence and religious superstition, for a cool glimpse of Mesoamerica and maybe even the promised power and glory.

1 comment:

  1. "The Power and the Glory" is a magnificent book and, I think, the only novel Greene wrote where the protagonist doesn't lust after a barely post-pubescent female.

    But I don't hold that against him.


    Rob Loughran