APOL has made an appearance in the former Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, where it was spotted arguing with party commissars in the lobby of the Bitexco Financial Tower (pictured), tallest building in the city. Vietnam has a deplorable record of suppressing freedom of expression, and the testy tome was having none of it. It was hustled away by a worried handler before it could be confiscated as subversive. “You wouldn’t want people to get ideas, would you?” it shouted over its back cover before being unceremoniously slipped into a briefcase.
Back in the day, Saigon was a French colonial outpost and, later, the capital of South Vietnam; it was a city of intrigue, and such places are magnets for literary types. Graham Greene, for example, produced some of his finest work while living in the city and carousing on Rue Catinat (now Dong Khoi). Knowing this, APOL slipped away from its handler that evening to meet an acquaintance at the Hotel Continental. The Quiet American toured it down the city’s elegant boulevards, ending up at the Hotel Majestic. There, APOL declined the American’s invitation to the notorious House of 500 Girls, which Greene featured in his famous novel. “I’ll find a bookstore instead,” it told its jaded friend.
A note to readers: APOL is the anthropomorphic version of my satirical novel A Person of Letters, gone on tour without its author (with a wink and a nod to magical realism). Follow APOL’s quixotic world tour here, or on my Facebook Author Page. For information about the book, go to Martin Scribler Media.