Ron Rosenbaum

Two must-read political novels

If you haven’t read Graham Greene’s 1965 novel set in Haiti under Duvalier, %%AMAZON=0143039199 The Comedians%%, you are missing one of Greene’s best, most chilling evocations of the brokenness of human nature that lies at the heart of political cruelty.

The good news is that there is an attractive new edition in the Penguin Classics series. The bad news is that it has a humorless introduction by Paul Theroux, a novelist who demonstrates an unseemly resentfulness of Greene’s superior talent in grating petty criticisms. Ignore them, and, submit yourself to Greene’s sinister spell.

And if you’re looking for an anatomy of the underside of American politics, you can do no bettter than Robert Stone’s haunting and prophetic first novel %%AMAZON=0395860288 A Hall of Mirrors%%.published a year before The Comedians. Set amidst damaged denizens of New Orleans’ underside, who witness the malignant growth of a fantical political movment, it makes you realize that Stone at his lapsed Catholic best is our Graham Greene. And don’t miss the riff on “the California of the mind”.