The Quiet American

The Quiet American is the story of two man; the narrator, a jaded journalist by the name of Fowler, a naive but well-intentioned, quiet American named Pyle, and the woman they both want, a vietnamese woman by the name of Phuong.

This is not my typical type of book - international politics are not my thing nor do I like a lot of vices in my stories. I don't read gritty books. And to completely honest, I know very little about the Vietnam war and really didn't have a desire to learn more.

And I wasn't sure how I liked it as I read it. I was sometimes confused, mostly with the war parts, and eventually decided to stop worrying about the details and just absorb what I could which is a technique which often works for me and I do think worked here as well.  While I still can't tell you very many details about the political situation, I do feel like I got a good feeling of the asthetic that Greene is trying to convey. One thing that surprised me was that this was written so early on. I actually didn't realized it would work for the challenge until later because until I was over half way through the book did I realize it was written so early on (1955 - the very beginning of the war). I had assumed it was written with the author having the ability to look back on the war which was not the case. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but I did find in interesting.

 Another strong feeling beyond confused was frustration. I was frustrated by both the main men in the story and by the lack of depth we see in Phuong. Yet, I'm pretty sure I was frustrated by exactly the things Greene wanted me to be frustrated by. It's definitely well written and thought provoking. The way the story plays out in such a non-linear way, with information being given in a roundabout fashion, really forces you to sort things out in your head and the result is beautiful writing about an ugly topic.

 Even now over a month after I've finished it, I find myself pondering certain elements. Mostly about what it means to be a good man.  Does one right decision redeem a character? Does one wrong decision ruin one?

I will be putting more Graham Greene work's in my to-be-read pile when I'm up for a bit of a challenge and needing to step out of my usual genres. And while I won't becoming an expert in Vietnam War history any time soon, I would love to find another book selection that explores this topic from more of an insiders perspective.

The Quiet American is my Back to the Classic Challenge - Classic from Africa, Asia, or Oceania selection. 


8 months!

Dear Jude,

This month just speed by but you keeping growing no matter how much this mama wishes you'd slow down.

You started crawling this month and now seem determined to try to walk. You pull up quiet well and keep trying to let go and stand on your own but honestly, that's not going quite as well and just ends in a lot of bumps and bonks on head. Good thing you're resilient!

You're really enjoying the nicer weather. You got to experience the sandbox for the first time and despite the expression on your face above, did have fun playing in it. But mostly you just like to sit in the grass and watch all the big kids play.

You really love the playground swing! 

You also love solids and eat a ton! But despite eating three solid meals a day, you are taking after your brother and not gaining weight well. The doctor and I are keeping an eye on it but I want you to stay nice and chunky. 

You also love people! You continue to be my most extroverted baby. You loved being at the conference and were just happy to people watch must of the time. Everyone commented on how smiley you are. I joke that you'll be the kid I have to join the co-op for :-) You're pretty independent too. The conference had a wide open space and I enjoyed watching you crawl around and seeing just how far you'd venture off before coming back to me. It was quite a bit farther than I thought! You'd turn around and make sure I was still there, watching you, but then you'd be off again - crawling over to the other babies or just exploring the area, not even caring if there were lots of big people walking around you. You had a "Don't mind me, I'm just exploring!" attitude that made me laugh.

But I do have to mind you! You're such a little stinker. Somehow you got ahold of a chocolate kiss during the conference too. I noticed you being unusually quite, I watched for a few seconds then saw some brown drool start to flow out and then I pulled the aluminum out. You spotted another one a few minutes later and got so excited but one piece of chocolate was enough! We've had a few more dog food episodes although you normally prefer to play in her water so now both food and water bowls are kept contained in her crate. Luckily I have three other people keeping their eye on you during the day or who knows what trouble you'd get into. Even Norah will gentle tell you "No, no Jude, that's not for babies" and then come runnning to me. Unless what you're getting into is her stuff then she may be a little less gentle about it. But again, you're resiliant. 

But of all the people in the world, you still love your family best.  You were so happy to come home to them and love nothing more than when they sing or play clapping games with you. You give (very slobbery) kisses. Oh, the drool! You go through several bibs a day but even if it means I need a towel afterward, I'll still take a kiss from you anytime - but I do have to be careful because those kissing turn into bites very quickly. You have three teeth now, all on the bottom, and I keep thinking those top two teeth will pop through any day now. Maybe then my shoulder will no longer be peppered with tiny baby teeth shaped bruises. 

But bites and drool and mid-night wakings are nothing compared to what you bring our family. We're so blessed to have you in our life little guy!