and his flat nose bent hard right, the same as his politics.
How those two concocted a child as cute as Duc was a mystery, or perhaps simply as logical as how two negatives when multiplied together yield a positive.
it’s hard to find honest men when men have families to feed
As always, money solved the problem. After some strong persuasion on my part, Violet agreed to double the wages for those extras playing Viet Cong, an incentive that allowed these freedom fighters to forget that playing those other freedom fighters had once been so repugnant an idea.
Not even families with a daughter of mixed ancestry welcomed me, for the daughter was herself usually frantic to squeeze into the elevator of social mobility through marriage to someone of a pure pedigree
Like a shark who must keep swimming to live, a politician—which was what the General had become—had to keep his lips constantly moving.
He was likewise a scholarship student at a college in Orange County, an hour away by car. It was the birthplace of the war criminal Richard Nixon, as well as the home of John Wayne, a place so ferociously patriotic I thought Agent Orange might have been manufactured there or at least named in its honor.
The airing of moral doubts was as tiresome as the airing of domestic squabbles, no one really interested except for the ones directly involved
It was, instead, the best kind of truth, the one that meant at least two things…No, Madame, I said, I wouldn’t want to marry that, also the two-faced truth, for marriage was not the first thing on my mind when I saw her onstage.
I pitied the French for their naïveté in believing they had to visit a country in order to exploit it. Hollywood was much more efficient, imagining the countries it wanted to exploit.
a job I characterized as undermining the enemy’s propaganda.
the tide of sympathy pulled me toward them
Your problem isn’t that you think too much; your problem is letting everyone know what you’re thinking.
how you wouldn’t want anyone for your friend who actually wanted to be your friend. Deep down you suspect only fools and traitors would believe your promises.
We would all be in Hell if convicted of our thoughts.
a substantial donation by the Auteur to the policemen’s benevolent association, otherwise known as the local brothel.
Remember that the best medical treatment is a sense of relativism. No matter how badly you might feel, take comfort in knowing there’s someone who feels much worse.
One way to forget a certain kind of pain was to feel another kind of pain, as when the doctor examining you for mandatory military service (an exam that you never fail, unless you are afflicted by wealth) slaps you on one butt cheek while injecting you in the other cheek
Weapons I professionally admired, but vodka and novels I loved.
These questions required either Camus or cognac, and as Camus was not available I ordered cognac.
After three of these libations and two glasses of red wine, I felt full of insight, the air of truth having expanded my mind and needing to be let out.
holding the microphone with the care one reserved for a stick of dynamite.
I was in close quarters with some representative specimens of the most dangerous creature in the history of the world, the white man in a suit.
He was the king of this affair, but he wore his paper crown lightly.
No author was immune from having his own ideas and words quoted back to him favorably. Authors were, at heart, no matter how much they blustered or how suavely they carried themselves, insecure creatures with sensitive egos, as delicate in the constitution as movie stars, only much poorer and less glamorous.
To think of a mole as that which digs underground misunderstands the meaning of the mole as a spy. A spy’s task is not to hide himself where no one can see him, since he will not be able to see anything himself. A spy’s task is to hide where everyone can see him and where he can see everything. Now ask yourself: What can everyone see about you but you yourself cannot? Enough with the riddles, I said. I give up. There—he pointed at the middle of my face—in plain sight. I went to the mirror to see for myself, Man peering over my shoulder. There it indeed was, such a part of myself I had long ago ceased to notice it. Keep in mind that you will be not just any mole, Man said, but the mole that is the beauty spot on the nose of power itself. Man had the natural ability to make the role of a mole, and other potentially dangerous tasks, seem attractive. Who would not want to be a beauty spot? [Brilliant disambiguation of 3 kinds of "mole"]…I kept that in mind when I consulted my English dictionary, where I discovered that a mole could also be a kind of pier or harbor, a unit of measurement in chemistry, an abnormal mass of uterine tissue, and, if pronounced differently, a highly spiced Mexican sauce of peppers and chocolate that I would one day try and very much enjoy. But what caught my eye and has stayed with me ever since was the accompanying illustration, which depicted not a beauty spot but the animal, a subterranean, worm-eating mammal with massive clawed feet, a tubular whiskered snout, and pinhole eyes. It was surely ugly to all except its own mother, and nearly blind.
that haze was my life flashing before my eyes, only it unreeled so fast I could not see much of it. What I could see was myself, but what was strange was that my life unreeled in reverse, as in those film sequences where someone who has fallen out of a building and gone splat on the sidewalk suddenly leaps up into the air and flies back through the window. So it was with me, running madly backward against an impressionistic background of blotches of color. I gradually shrank in size until I was a teenager, then a child, and then, at last, a baby, crawling, until inevitably I was sucked naked and screaming through that portal every man’s mother possesses, into a black hole where all light vanished. As that last glimmer faded, it occurred to me that the light at the end of the tunnel seen by people who have died and come back to life was not Heaven. Wasn’t it much more plausible that what they saw was not what lay ahead of them but what lay behind? This was the universal memory of the first tunnel we all pass through, the light at its end penetrating our fetal darkness, disturbing our closed eyelids, beckoning us toward the chute that will deliver us to our inevitable appointment with death. [Description of life passing before your eyes]
Our lungs had achieved smoky equilibrium with the stale air, while on the coffee table the ashtray silently suffered its usual indignity, mouth crammed full of butts and bitter ash.
The Brylcreem and our cologne lent my car an intoxicatingly masculine atmosphere as we listened to the Rolling Stones, the car transporting us not only west to Hollywood but back to the glory days of Saigon circa 1969, after my return from America. Then, before Bon and Man became fathers, the three of us had wasted the weekends of our youth in Saigon’s bars and nightclubs, exactly as one was supposed to do. If youth was not wasted, how could it be youth?
The foot would keep me awake until I died. The foot was slowly, ever so slowly, killing me. The foot was judge, guard, and executioner. Oh, foot, have sympathy for me. Foot, whose whole life is one of being stood upon, of being made to walk the dirty earth, neglected by all above, you of all living things should understand how I feel. Foot, where would we, humanity, be without you? You delivered us from Africa to the rest of the world, and yet so little is said about you. Clearly you got a raw deal as compared with, say, the hand. If you let me live, I will dedicate words to you and make my readers realize your importance. Oh, foot! I beg of you, nudge me no more. Stop rubbing your calluses on my skin. Don’t scratch me with your sharp, uncut nails. Not that your calluses and nails are your fault. They are your negligent master’s fault. I confess that I am just as heedless in the care of my feet, your kin. But I promise if you just let me go to sleep, I will be a new man in regards to my own feet, to all feet! I will worship you, foot, as Jesus Christ did when he washed the feet of sinners and kissed them…Foot, you should be revolution’s symbol, not the hand holding hammer and sickle. Yet we keep you hidden under the table, or shod in a shoe. We abuse you, as the Chinese do, by binding you. Would we ever inflict such an injury on the hand? Stop prodding me, please, I beg of you. I recognize that humanity poorly represents you, except for when we spend copious amounts of money in dressing you, because you, of course, cannot represent yourself. Foot, I wonder why I never thought about you before, or hardly ever. The hand is free to do whatever it pleases. It even writes! No wonder more words have been written about the hand than the foot. We share something in common, foot. We are the downtrodden of the world. If you would only stop keeping me awake, if only [The passage about the foot being a remarkable display of desperate pleading, like when one is hungover, earnestly swearing to abstain from booze in a bargain that everyone knows is a mirage despite its solemn profession.]
He had nearly died already from the syphilis given to him by a prisoner’s visiting wife, who had paid her bribe with the only resource she had.
Isn’t it remarkable that in a communist country money can still buy you anything you want?
We remain that most hopeful of creatures, a revolutionary in search of a revolution, although we will not dispute being called a dreamer doped by an illusion.
Some might say I was seeing things, but the true optical illusion was in seeing others and oneself as undivided and whole, as if being in focus was more real than being out of focus.