Thursday, July 1, 2010

#14 - "The Power and the Glory" by Graham Greene

I was able to finish The Power and the Glory last night, making that four books in June.  Actually, I finished the book at about 2:00AM, but I'm going to consider that being finished in June.
I found the first few chapters of this book very difficult to immerse myself in.  I don't know if I'm just not that smart or what, but I found the beginning to be quite confusing.  At one point, I wondered if I had missed a page or something.  Or perhaps I had drifted off, where your brain is elsewhere, but your eyes continue to scan across the page.  I hadn't felt this lost since reading Light in August.

The Power and the Glory (Penguin Classics)Eventually, things began to come together and the pieces started falling into place, but I still can't get over how confusing I found this at the start.  Is it supposed to be read that way?  Or am I finding it difficult to get into any book after just having finished a different one?  When I had started Atonement, I still had the Lambert family from The Corrections in my head, and found any new character to be almost a distraction to my involvement with them.  I have to learn to do a better job of wiping the slate clean, and remembering I'm reading a new book.

The Power and the Glory is the story of an unnamed priest, wandering the Mexican countryside to avoid prosecution. Set in the 1930's in Mexico, while the government was in the process of suppressing religion, making worship illegal and executing any religious figures including priests and bishops, the story follows an unnamed priest as he roams the countryside trying to avoid prosecution.

As the nameless priest moves from village to village, being chased by a Lieutenant and his posse, he slowly feels the pinch of the law, as they move in closer and closer, surrounding the priest.  While he is a self-described "whiskey priest", basically a drunk and a bad priest, he is still devoted to his faith.  Unable to resist the urge to quench the people's thirst for religious guidance, he must decide whether or not to sacrifice his own freedom to enhance the lives of the people he encounters.

The story did gain momentum, and in the end, I was quite engrossed with the fate of the priest.  As the posse slowly moves in, and he resigns himself to his demise, I felt myself felling compassion for not only the man, but also the religion; something I'm not known for.

While I enjoyed the read, it doesn't really stick out in my mind, and I wouldn't be picking it for my favorite books yet.  In fact, this will find itself closer to the bottom, along with Naked Lunch and Light in August.

My next book will be To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.  Again, I know nothing about it, other than Elizabeth Taylor was in a movie called "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"  I'll assume the two have something in common.

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