Maduck831's Reviews > Brighton Rock

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
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Nov 29, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: greene-s-catholic-cycle
Read in January, 2010

“He stamped his words like little pats of butter with his personal mark. ‘He has attained unity. We do not know what that One is with whom (or with which) he is now at one. We do not retain the old medieval beliefs in glassy seas and golden crowns. Truth is beauty and there is more beauty for us, a truth-loving generation, in the certainty that our brother is at this moment reabsorbed in the universal spirit.’” (35) “Death shocked her, life was so important. She wasn’t religious. She didn’t believe in heaven or hell, only in ghosts, ouija boards, tables which rapped and little inept voices speaking plaintively of flowers. Let Papists treat death with flippancy: life wasn’t so important perhaps to them as what came after: but to her death was the end of everything. At one with the One – it didn’t mean a thing beside a glass of Guinness on a sunny day. She believe in ghosts, but you couldn’t call that a thin transparent existence in life eternal: the squeak of a board, a piece of ectoplasm in a glass cupboard at the psychical research headquarters, a voice she’d heard once at a séance saying, ‘Everything is very beautiful on the upper plane. There are flowers everywhere.’” (36) “Flowers, Ida though scornfully: that wasn’t life. Life was sunlight on brass bedposts, Ruby port, the leap of the heart when the outsider you have backed passes the post and the colours go bobbing up.” (36) “There was something dangerous and remorseless in her optimism, whether she was laughing in Henekey’s or weeping at a funeral or a marriage.” (36) ‘Well,’ the Boy said, standing up, ‘maybe I’ll be seeing you: maybe not.’ He grinned again, passing through the chargeroom, but a bright spot of colour stood out on each cheekbone. There was poison in his veins, though he grinned and bore it. He had been insulted. He was going to show the world. They thought because he was only seventeen…he jerked his narrow shoulders back at the memory that he’d killed his man, and these bogies who thought they were clever weren’t clever enough to discover that. He trailed clouds of his own glory after him: hell lay about him in his infancy. He was ready for more deaths.” (68) “She got up and he saw the skin of her thigh for a moment above the artificial silk, and a prick of sexual desire disturbed him like a sickness. That was what happened to a man in the end: the stuffy room, the wakeful children, the Saturday night movements from the other bed. Was there no escape – anywhere – for anyone? It was worth murdering a world.” (92) ‘You dog, you,’ Cubitt said. ‘You’re a young one at the game.’ The game: and the Boy’s mind turned with curiosity and loathing to the small cheap ready-for-anyone face, the bottles catching the moonlight on the bin, and the word ‘burn’. ‘burn’ repeated. What did people mean by ‘the game’? He knew everything in theory, nothing in practice; he was only old with the knowledge of people’s lusts, those of strangers who wrote their desires on the wall in public lavatories.” (116) ‘You’re young. That’s what it is,’ Ida said, ‘romantic. I was like you once. You’ll grow out of it. All you need is a bit of experience.’ The Nelson Place eyes stared back at her without understanding. Driven to her hole the small animal peered out at the bright and breezy world; in the hole were murder, copulation, extreme poverty, fidelity and the love and fear of God, but the small animal had not the knowledge to deny that only in the glare and open world outside was something which people called experience.” (123) ‘Just wait two minutes.’ She put her hand on his arm, feeling an intense excitement, the edge of discovery above the horizon, and was aware herself for the first time of the warm close air welling up round them from hidden gratings, driving them into the open.” (162) “He looked around the little pink barred cell as if he owned it; his memory owned it, it was stamped with footmarks, a particular patch of floor had eternal importance: if the cash register had been moved he’d have noticed it. ‘What’s that?’ he asked and nodded at a box, the only unfamiliar object there.” (178) “He was like a professor describing to a stranger some place he had only read about in books: statistics of imports and exports, tonnage and mineral resources and if the budget balanced, when all the time it was a country the stranger knew from thirsting in the desert and being shot at in the foothills. Mean…yellow…scared: he laughed gently with derision. It was as if he had outsoared the shadow of any night Cubitt could be aware of. He opened his door, went in, closed it and locked it.” (185) “He drew it up – a scrap torn from a notebook – big, unformed, stranger’s writing. He held it up into the grey light and read – with difficulty. ‘I love you, Pinkie. I don’t care what you do. I love you for ever. You’ve been good to me. Where you go, I’ll go too.’ She must have written it while he talked to Cubitt and slipped it into his pocket while he slept. He crumpled it in his fist, a dustbin stood outside a fishmonger’s – the he held his hand. An obscure sense told him you never knew – it might prove useful one day.” (188) “He pressed her breast again and uttered his qualified encouragement. ‘Oh no, there’s no cause to worry till she finds out. Even then you see there’s that escape. But perhaps she never will. And if she doesn’t, why,’ – his finger touched her with secret revulsion – ‘we’ll just go on, won’t we,’ and he tried to make the horror sound like love, ‘the way we are.’” (206) ‘I want to lie down alone,’ the Boy said. He went slowly upstairs. When he opened the door he knew what he would see: he looked away as if to shut out temptation from the ascetic and the poisoned brain. He heard her say: ‘I was just going out for a while, Pinkie. Is there anything I can do for you?’” (217) “It was about as far as hope could be stretched; she had to say now or never – ‘I won’t do it. I never meant to do it.’” (240) “It isn’t hard. Put it in your ear – that’ll hold it steady.’ His youth came out in the crudity of his instruction: he was like a boy playing on an ash-heap. ‘Go on,’ he said, ‘take it.’ / It was amazing how far hope could stretch. She thought: I needn’t say anything yet. I can take the gun and then – throw it out of the car, run away, do something to stop everything.” (240) “If it was a guardian angel speaking to her now, he spoke like a devil – he tempted her to virtue like a sin.” (241) “Then she couldn’t tell what happened: glass – somewhere – broke, he screamed and she saw his face – steam. He screamed and screamed, with his hands up to his eyes; he turned and ran: she saw a police baton at his feet and broken glass. He looked half his size, doubled up in appalling agony: it was as if the flames had literally got him and he shrank – shrank into a schoolboy flying in panic and pain, scrambling over a fence, running on. / ‘Stop him,’ Dallow cried: it wasn’t any good: he was at the edge, he was over: they couldn’t even hear a splash. It was as if he’d been withdrawn suddenly by a hand out of any existence – past or present, whipped away into zero – nothing.” (243) “There was something to be salvaged from that house and room, something else they wouldn’t be able to get over – his voice speaking a message to her: if there was a child, speaking to the child. ‘If he loved you,’ the priest had said, ‘that shows…’ She walked rapidly in the thin June sunlight towards the worst horror of all.” (247)
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