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Posted October 31, 2000
Loving 'Loving Graham Greene'
In a tapestry of made-up minds, honest reporters live at risk. Gloria Emerson was such a reporter in Vietnam and in Gaza. She pays affectionate tribute to perhaps the greatest thriller writer in 'Loving Graham Greene' by sending quirky heiress Molly Benson, the female protagonist Greene never attempted, to a doomed Algeria to hire bodyguards for honest journalists. Like many Greene characters, Benson is a decent person over her head amid evil, whose good works do harm. Her reporter¿s eye and ear won Emerson¿s 'Winners and Losers' the National Book Award with telling details like the GI who looked in a mirror and said, ¿I had no idea who that was.¿ Her writing skills turn a clever conceit into a brilliant novel. The determined Molly Benson and her companions are richly-drawn characters in a sparse world of countervailing menaces, the police state versus Islamic fundamentalism. The civil war in the shadows tightens its noose as the innocents look for ways to save the outspoken. The naïve, half-informed Pyle in Greene¿s 'The Quiet American' was ¿impregnably armoured by his good intentions and his ignorance.¿ Emerson¿s Benson has a capacity to understand there is a great deal she doesn¿t understand. She¿s an ironic, irritating heroine ¿ a tall, middle-aged, ferociously liberal woman whose brother Harry was a reporter martyred in El Salvador. Molly knows every book Greene ever wrote, down to the names of the dogs, met him once by chance, pestered him with letters and undertakes her mission to carry on his spirit and Harry¿s after their deaths. Emerson writes with a scalpel dipped in ink, every detail as perfect as the story and characters. This funny, literate thriller is tribute to the power of the word to inspire action in the face of despair.
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