"The canal was full of bodies: I am reminded now of an Irish stew containing too much meat. The bodies over-lapped: one head, seal-grey, and anonymous as a convict with a shaven scalp, stuck up out of the water like a buoy. There was no blood: I suppose it had flowed away a long time ago. I have no idea how many there were: they must have been caught in a cross-fire, trying to get back, and I suppose every man of us along the bank was thinking, 'Two can play at that game.' I too took my eyes away; we didn't want to be reminded of how little we counted, how quickly, simply and anonymously death came. Even though my reason wanted the state of death, I was afraid like a virgin of the act."
Graham Greene, The Quiet American
"Of course there was nothing to do. Everything went very quickly like a routine. The officer stepped aside, the rifles went up, and the little man suddenly made jerky movements with his arms. He was trying to say something: what was the phrase they were supposed to use? That was routine too, but perhaps his mouth was too dry, because nothing came out except a word that sounded like 'Excuse'. The crash of the rifles shook Mr. Tench: they seemed to vibrate inside his own guts: he felt sick and shut his eyes. Then there was a single shot, and opening them again he saw the officer stuffing his gun back into his holster, and the little man was a routine heap beside the wall--something unimportant which had to be cleared away. Two knock-kneed men approached quickly. This was an arena, and the bull was dead, and there was nothing more to wait for any more."
Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory
I have always put off blogging because I found that I couldn't take it seriously enough--or, as likely and more often, far more seriously than I should & never in-between. I'd say: "Wouldn't it be cool if there were a blogger who was blogging with the intent of writing the next Arcades Project? Die Fäckel? Thoreau's Journals?" And it would be cool--fantastically so: and then I'd despair that I wasn't going to do any of those things.
But here we are and here I type and I intend to do something more than archive second-hand links and something less than an Augean labor of baring my soul on a daily basis, recorded for eternity.
So, book fans: mark your calendars--my compromise is going to be to use the interactivity, the take-it-or-leave-itivity of blogs to push forward some thoughts which previously malingered like Marines on light-duty. That is to say: September is Graham Greene Month at Hotel Zero. Of course, I'll still make occasional posts on the progress of my powerhouse fantasy football team, The Fighting Elvii, and the odd commentary on the Iraq War or veterans or writing (or, as my workshop approaches, all three together)... but by-and-large I'll be finishing my novel and reading a lot of Graham Greene.
Actively seeking an influence or model is a sketchy thing in writing, but I've come to admire Greene's writing tremendously over the past few years. It's a clear white liquor that never leaves me hungover. It's got wonderful rhythms, complex-but-supple sentences, and carries its philosophy lightly on the page yet powerfully in its effect. There are other books, by other writers, that I admire more than any of Greene's, but they leave a heaviness of influence, a persistence of specific rhythms, that I find hard to shake (a good thing while reading, a horrible thing while writing): Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried are books that I read once a year, or more: masterpieces of their kinds, and riveting. But I wouldn't dare read either of them within a month of doing serious writing: they are not only inimitable, but drunk-making and leave in their wake a hangover of word and rhythm worse for my prose than a hard night of bourbon on a too-light dinner is on my body.
Fire up your RSS reader, tell your friends, and dog-ear you favorite Greene passages: this'll be fun.