Graham Greene's "Very Quiet" American
A couple weeks ago I faced a long drive by myself to Brock University in St. Catherine's, Ontario. To redeem the time as it were (6 hours each way), I checked out the audio version of Graham Greene's The Quiet American, read/performed by Joseph Porter. (Porter does a decent job, though his Alden Pyle sounds more like he's from Arkansas than Boston.)
This is Greene at his finest: an insightful critique of naive imperialisms in Indo-China forms the backdrop for the micro-drama between the "earnest" Protestantism of the American Pyle and the unwitting Catholicism of the "detached" Brit, Fowler, and their common love. Indeed, Love is at the center of everything, and the story is dripping with a sense of sacramental presence. The pentitential longing of the closing passage left me in tears on I-69.
The book also got me asking: Do we really have any great Protestant novelists? Can any Protestant novelist really hold a candle to the sacramental imaginations of Waugh, Greene, Percy, and O'Connor (or Tolkien)? What would we offer as a Protestant counterpart--Updike?! Is that the best we've got? Is this something of a confirmation of the "talking-head"-ness of Protestantism--its myopic concern with intellect as opposed to the Catholic affirmation of the sensual and imaginative?