Graham Greene awesomeness (again…)

January 13, 2017

“Hate was just a failure of imagination.” (The Power and the Glory, Penguin ed. pg. 131) – only slightly more inspiring than the words of Dr. Ben Carson:

“It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any American.” – Dr. Ben Carson

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More Greene

January 27, 2015

So sayeth one of Graham Greene’s priests – “Sometimes I think God was not entirely serious when he gave man the sexual instinct.” (A Burnt-Out Case, pg. 191, Penguin)

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Eye Pouches

January 13, 2015

Graham Greene buried this great description in the middle of a paragraph in A Burnt-Out Case:

“The pouches under his eyes were like purses that contained the smuggled memories of a disappointing life.” (pg. 30, Penguin)

Other lesser writers (a designation that roughly translates to almost all other writers), were they to conceive a descriptive of equitable greatness, would be sorely tempted to put it on its own, as a lead, a chapter title – or maybe just make it the book’s title. More proof that Graham Greene is awesome.

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“Once a man started killing his wife…”

August 17, 2013

Here is another great line from Graham Greene, on page 67 of The Ministry of Fear (Penguin Classics):

“…a kind of self-protective instinct would have made Mrs. Wilcox hate him. Once a man started killing his wife, she would have ungrammatically thought, you couldn’t tell where it would stop.”

The line sounds awfully diabolical out of context, but trust me, it is a funny line, if you are reading the book.

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Greene’s The Tenth Man

March 31, 2012

Graham Greene could have been talking about today’s political pundits with this line from The Tenth Man:

“She was like an old weatherworn emblem of wisdom – something you find in desert places, like the Sphinx – yet inside her was that enormous vacancy of ignorance which cast a doubt on all her wisdom.” (pg. 76, Washington Square Press)

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A few passages from The Quiet American

October 11, 2011

I finally delved into Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, and as expected, it is an awesome book. Beyond the insightful and prescient portrait of Pyle, the personal honesty of Fowler, the narrator, make for some memorable passages in the book:

…I know the depth of my selfishness. I cannot be at ease … if someone else is in pain … Sometimes this is mistaken by the innocent for unselfishness, when all I am doing is sacrificing a small good … for the sake of a far greater good, a peace of mind when I need think only of myself. (pg. 114)

I don’t think that sentiment is uncommon, yet most people delude themselves into thinking their motivations are pure. In the words of King Missile, “That’s the way we are. We are pigs.”

The book also has a great dissection of journalism, and a clue as to what’s gone wrong with today’s new media:

Perhaps truth and humility go together; so many lies come from our pride – in my profession a reporter’s pride, the desire to file a better story than the other man’s… (pg. 122)

Granted, the push for profit has had its own malignant influence on journalism, but Greene sees, rightly, the corruption in that desire to be “first,” where getting it first has more cachet than getting it right.

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The end of “The End of the Affair”

September 26, 2010

The End of the Affair was simply a great book. I had avoided Graham Greene books up to this point. I do not know why since he is often associated with Evelyn Waugh, who is by far one of my favorite authors and one of the best writers of the past century. I think there was something, some odd passage, on the first page of The Quiet American that dissuaded me from continuing. (And that book itself has the bizarre distinction of being one of the few, if any, literary references Baby Bush ever made in his life.) But I found a really good copy of “Affair” at Recycled Books, and how can you stop reading when the book begins with the line, “A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead”? No one, as far as I can tell, writes that good these days.

Next up? Our Man in Havana, mainly because I also want to see the film (that way, I’ll have something more than Star Wars to talk about if I ever meet the spirit of Alec Guinness).

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