This is an early novel of Greene's (1938), but a later one for me, as it's the sixth or seventh one I've read of his. As with all of Greene's novels,This is an early novel of Greene's (1938), but a later one for me, as it's the sixth or seventh one I've read of his. As with all of Greene's novels, the setting, the seaside town of Brighton, is as much a character as any of the people who populate it. This setting is very different from that of other Greene novels I've read: Port-au-Prince, London, Havana, Sierra Leone, Mexico and other foreign landscapes.
As with others of his novels (despite what others on goodreads have said), the women portrayed are engaging and sympathetic while the protagonist, the very young (seventeen) Pinkie, is not. Still, Pinkie commands our attention and fascinates all the while. What interests me most about this novel is how Greene manages to make us shift sympathies from Ida initially, the older woman who is out to right a wrong in her quest to solve the mystery of the death of Hale, her last customer, to Rose, the 17-year-old girl whose devotion to Pinkie is ill-advised at best.
That Greene is able to accomplish this shift (in this reader at least) seems to me masterful, and is just one of the many aspects of this engrossing novel that I love and admire....more
It's said that our dreams are never as interesting to others as they are to ourselves, the dreamers. I suspect this is true, except perhaps for thoseIt's said that our dreams are never as interesting to others as they are to ourselves, the dreamers. I suspect this is true, except perhaps for those we are in love or obsessed with... Greene kept dream diaries for most of his life, and this slim volume was published posthumously and edited by his companion Yvonne Cloetta, as he'd asked her to. The dreams are grouped thematically, and the chapter titles themselves are fascinating: Happiness; War; Moments of Danger and Fear; A Small Revenge; My Life of Crime; Animals Who Talk; Death and Disease,, etc. Each section also has a charming note of introduction by Graham.
Two of his dreams then; one first from the chapter titled "Unpleasant Experiences:"
I had a very unpleasant experience. I found crevettes were coming out of my penis with my urine. There were about twelve in the lavatory bowl, and one langoustine. (p.109)
Another from "Stage and Screen:" I was asked to play the part of a priest who committed suicide at Mass, in a play to be performed in a small theatre in North Africa, but I was given no dialogue and the script gave no explanation of my actions. I decided to extemporize. A priest was preaching when I came on the scene. He told the audience that not only were the consecrated water and wine holy, but also the 'implements' of the Mass, the chalice and paten. I called out that I didn't care a damn about these objects. 'I am a priest and I am killing myself, God, because you have ceased to love me.' Next day I went into town and asked two Africans if I had succeeded in shocking the audience. They assured me that the people were very shocked indeed, and were still talking about it. Incidentally, they told me that Saint Augustine had lived in this town.' (p.81). ...more
One of his later novels (1973), it was better than I thought it would be. The same themes: love, betrayal, justice, and faith, with a newer one: machiOne of his later novels (1973), it was better than I thought it would be. The same themes: love, betrayal, justice, and faith, with a newer one: machismo. Set in northern Argentina on the border with Paraguay, Dr Plarr, of an Argentine mother and British father, seems much older than his 30 years, world-weary. Not quite as intense as my favorite 4 (The Quiet American; The Heart of the Matter; A Burnt Out Case; The End of the Affair) but it's still Greene in top form and convincing. (Forget Bel Canto, this kidnapping is much more real and compelling).
There are some very funny parts about a mediocre novelist...but as usual, one comes to feel compassion for the characters, even the ones one was laughing at earlier...I love how Greene does that: deepens our understanding...just as Plarr comes to realize more about himself, and as a result, those around him.
Why am I in love with Graham Greene the novels of Graham Greene? So many reasons... His deep intelligence and respect for the reader's intelligence. HWhy am I in love with Graham Greene the novels of Graham Greene? So many reasons... His deep intelligence and respect for the reader's intelligence. He's passionate; his characters fall deeply in love, into or out of faith. Their concerns are very real; their thoughts and dialogue feel so. Their conversations are engaging and not there just to "move the plot along." Greene loves women. You can tell. His female characters feel real, not idealized, not just versions of the same woman. I don't always love them (the lover in The Heart of the Matter for ex.) but I believe in them. And they are not predictable. His novels are plotted but do not race to their end; the construct of plot doesn't peek through like bones through some threadbare fabric. The situations and settings in which Greene's characters live and work, or go to escape, are difficult, often extreme. People are tested, as is their love, faith, integrity. His novels matter. The characters matter: Querry and Dr Colin in this one...the Brothers and the young wife...they're never just types, never played just for laughs, though to be sure there is comic relief: Mr Rycker and the journalist Parkinson are very funny (obnoxious) characters. This was described to me as a perfect novel, and it may be that, if such a thing exists: it is so well-plotted, yet never predictable. It's short yet it feels very dense. Are we picking favorites here? I'll lay claim to this one. For now.
p.s. I see I am living my life all wrong. I need to be living & working in one of these places, one of his settings......more
"The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in t"The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism: this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belongs to me and to no other. But happiness annihilates us: we lose our identity."
Two things: I wish I had not seen the film first. Though I saw it some years ago, much of it came back to me as I read. The novel offers a much richer experience than the film, but I felt my enjoyment of it was lessened somewhat by knowing how the plot would unfold. I wasn't expecting the novel to turn so much on the question of faith, God, Catholicism by its end; the last third is essentially devoted to this. I don't mean to imply that these issues are not integral to the novel; they are. I just didn't realize they would come so strongly to the surface and stay there. (I know: it's a Graham Greene novel). A third thing might be goodreads hype surrounding this novel....but no, it lived up to that. We're let inside Maurice Bendrix's mind, get caught up in desire, jealousy, the selfishness which in part these engender; resistance to the idea of God--there is much here to consider and lots of reasons to read very slowly....more
Not my favorite of Graham Greene's. perhaps because he inhabits the point of view of a Mexican priest and I didn't fully buy it... On the other hand,Not my favorite of Graham Greene's. perhaps because he inhabits the point of view of a Mexican priest and I didn't fully buy it... On the other hand, it's been many years since I read it. Still it did not affect me as his other novels have. I am a huge admirer of this writer....more