CLOSER TO HOUSTON by Richard Fagen


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Fagen, professor of Latin American Studies in Stanford's Political Science Department, makes scant use of his expertise in this fiction debut--a simplistic short novel about love and politics in Central America As the novel opens, Charlie Garfield (visiting the capital of an unnamed Central American nation on behalf of a charitable foundation) watches from his hotel window as rebels ambush and kill members of a military patrol. Soon after, he travels into the sierra with Michelle, a free-lance journalist with whom he once had a brief affair. She hopes to interview guerrilla leaders; he goes along out of curiosity, perhaps hoping to resume their relationship, and is soon approached with a request to aid the rebels. Back in the capital, Charlie learns that the hotel maid was killed by soldiers in reprisals and that the US is about to commit more military assistance to the repressive regime; he returns then to the sierra to lecture the guerrilla leader on geopolitics and find out what the rebels want him to do. Meanwhile, the political climate of the country is sketchily developed--as though Fagen takes the reader's sympathies for granted--so that when Charlie and Michelle ally themselves with the guerrillas, it's hard to say whether they are meant to seem principled or merely naive. As they pursue romance and revolution over lobster and vintage wine, one wonders whether Fagen intended irony. Political fiction (cum love story) warning about the evils of American military intervention--a first novel unlikely to influence or engage.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1990
Publisher: John Daniel