Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The Quiet American
Purchased at the Fordham University bookstore for a summer course on Politics in the Novel, probably 1991. I remember this being the novel I liked the most from the several we read in our summer course.
Oddly, though, at this moment I feel a stronger memory of having lent the book out to my friend Chris Alexander a few years back. Chris took over the apartment below me on College St. in Buffalo after Jonathan Skinner had moved to North Buffalo upon the arrival of his wife, Isabelle Pelissier, from NM. This was 1999. He'd been living there a year on his own before she came to join him.
My friends Aaron & Michelle rented the place over the summer before moving on to San Diego and Vermont, respectively, then Chris moved in some time in the fall after he and his partner at the time, LInda Russo, had split up. I think I lived above him for two years or so before I met Lori. I moved in with her almost immediately.
Having a friend below me like that was sort of nice -- like having a roommate you didn't have to share a bathroom with, whose living habits didn't affect your own. Chris liked to cook and I remember we used to sit in his kitchen a lot, talking and eating.
Chris smoked pretty heavily, and I had just quit smoking earlier in the year. I used to watch the way he held his cigarettes as he smoked, which often changed between a very feminine way of smoking and a very masculine. Some days, he would hold the cigarette daintily at the very tips of his fingers and blow the smoke upward out of the corner of his mouth. Other days he'd hold it firm between thumb and forefinger, and sort of cup it as he dragged, then he'd blow the smoke straight forward in a masculine gust.
Either way, I was jealous of the fact he was smoking.
Anyhow, I remember lending Chris this book, it was around the time the film version came out, I think, and I remember thinking that I should read it again when he returned it. He did return it, but I have yet to re-read it. I did see the movie though.
from The Quiet American
After dinner I sat and waited for Pyle in my room over the rue Catinat; he had said, 'I'll be with you at latest by ten,' and when I midnight struck I couldn't stay quiet any longer and went down the street. A lot of old women in black trousers squatted on the landing: it was February and I suppose too hot for them in bed. One trishaw driver pedalled slowly by toward the river front and i could see lamps burning where they had disembarked the new American planes. There was no sign of Pyle anywhere on the long street.