The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Power and the Glory is the sort of title to inspire readers to great deeds, pushing beyond the bounds of normal reading capabilities to turn pages at superhuman speed! But alas no. And why not? Afterall, the premise is promising...
A cynical, whiskey priest sneaks about the poor, rural lands of southern Mexico, evading capture for the treasonous action of being a priest. The question is whether he's on the lamb to preach the word of god or to save his own neck.
I haven't read much Graham Greene, but what I have read makes me think Greene could turn a phrase and slap a good sentence together right up there with some of the best of them. The problem seems to be his plots. They don't punch you like you expect. I always seemed to be waiting for something more out of this book and it never came, and this isn't the first time it's happened with a Greene book.
Straight out of college I made a pledge to read through the works of respected authors. I powered through Kafka and then Camus. Both were exciting or at least interesting. In hindsight, I think I read them both at the perfect time in my life.
Next up was Greene. He wrote over two dozen novels, and then there were plays, screenplays, children's books, travel journals, short story collections. Out of all that, all I managed to read was The Man Within, his less than spectacular first attempt at a novel. Such were the deflating affects of that ho-hum experience that twenty years passed before I picked up my second Greene, A Gun For Sale aka This Gun For Hire. It wasn't great, but it was good enough to reignite my interest. Since then I've renewed my pledge, but with lowered expectations. I just don't think I'll be able to bulldoze through his work.
If only his work was a bit more exciting. As you read on a growing sense that nothing will be resolved starts to envelope you, and if you're a person that likes resolution, you're up shit's creek paddle-less, my friend. If you let the current take you, you'll float along into a boggy morass of self-doubt and moral ambiguity, where you're left to stew in unpleasant juices (<<< like contemplating a poorly mixed metaphor). Graham Greene writes thinking man's books and I don't mean books for smart folk necessarily. I mean he intends you to ponder his ideas well after you've put the book down. The Power and the Glory is just such a book. That's fine, but couldn't he have managed both? Say perhaps, a thinking man's thriller? I'm just asking for a little more spark. It would make me leap to his next book!
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