The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene

First read: 6/2003
Reviewed on: 6/10/2003

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I did not like it.
I liked it.
I thought it one of the Best Novels of All Time

For a time, I lived in an illegal attic apartment in Ann Arbor. It was the summer, and the room with the computer was very small, without a real window. I had just gotten the computer game "Civilization" and so I was in that room all day, with the computer turned on, emitting heat into the room, while I neither ate nor drank. One day in particular, my underpants and butt were soaking wet from the heat and humidity, and I turned off the computer, and didn't have enough energy to go downstairs and take a cold shower. I swore at that moment that I would never complain about cold weather ever again. And since that day over ten years ago, I never have. Not a word.

This was a humid book. It was a book where if you took a shower, your hair would not dry all day, and no part of you would ever really be dry anyway. It was a book where if you get a cut, even a small one, you would have to dress it quickly or "it would start to turn green." This was a book of mosquito netting and ironwork hotels and sweat and moldy dampness. In this book, you feel West Africa in the air and on your skin.

Depending on your age, you will find this book cynical, realistic, or depressing. It is partially about the difference between the way middle-aged and young people experience emotions. As a middle-aged person reading this book, as a middle-aged person who never called himself that in public until this very moment, I don't want to admit whether I agree with Greene's perspective, or whether I will agree with it in the future.

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