My friend Ramón, who grew up in the Dominican Republic, writes in response to last week’s post about Graham Greene:
You quoted a cranky passage from Graham Greene. Evidently Mexico was not the only place he didn’t enjoy. He came by the mining operation where I grew up while he was researching The Comedians
(good book about Haiti, by the way — that and The Quiet American
are my favorite Greene novels). He appeared without warning in the middle of the night and requested accommodations. The mine was then an eight-hour drive from the capital over terrible roads. By the time the security guards at the gate found someone who had any clue who Graham Greene was and would let him in, the tone for the visit was set. He wrote disparagingly of the whole place and everyone in it in the novel’s last chapter.
And here is my favorite part of that story: I’m pretty sure I’m in the book.
“Further on was a luxurious trailer-park where children played with space-uniforms…”
I was one of a handful of children living in those trailers, and the only one who owned a blue corduroy jumpsuit with “NASA” embroidered above the left breast. I don’t know what he found luxurious about living in tin boxes in the middle of nowhere, but like I said, the tone was set.