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11. Graham Greene (1938), Brighton Rock

I interrupted reading this book in July to read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in preparation for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and then interrupted Half-Blood Prince in turn when I still hadn't quite finished it on release night. So for a while there, I had three books on the go at once, nested within each other - not something I normally do. I also actually finished reading it before going on our canal holiday, but just haven't had time to write it up before now.

Despite the interruptions, though, I enjoyed it very much, and didn't have any problem slotting straight back into the world of the novel when I returned to it. Greene manages to write with such compelling and convincing detail that the reader not only sees everything he describes, but feels it all as well. I'm sure I would recognise any of the characters from this novel if I met them in the street - and not only that, but I would feel as though I knew them intimately too.

I think my favourite aspect of his writing is the way his language manages to be fresh and unpredictable without getting pretentious or over-the-top. Here's a good example of what I mean:
Nine o'clock in the morning: he came furiously out into the passage; the morning sun trickled in over the top of the door below, staining the telephone.
There, the word 'staining' is surprising enough to make you notice it and think about it - but it's not intrusive or forced, because it also instantly makes you think "Yes. Yes of course, that's so right - that is what light does as it touches a dusty, half-shadowed surface." Plus it picks up beautifully on the themes of innocence and sin, shadowiness and scrutiny which run through the course of the novel. Incredible stuff.

I've yet to read a Greene novel I haven't liked, and will continue to work my way through his oeuvre as time goes on. To that end, I list here all of his novels which I've read so far, in the approximate order I read them, so that I can check back against it if necessary:
  • The Power and the Glory
  • The Human Factor
  • A Burnt-Out Case
  • Stamboul Train
  • The End of the Affair
  • A Gun for Sale
  • Brighton Rock
Still plenty to go, though!


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 9th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC)
Do 'Travels with my Aunt', it's my favourite!
Sep. 9th, 2007 05:44 pm (UTC)
It's certainly one of his more famous novels, isn't it, and so far I've usually found that the better-known ones deserve their reputation.
Sep. 9th, 2007 05:54 pm (UTC)
It was the first one my father made me read, and I loved it.
Sep. 9th, 2007 07:16 pm (UTC)
I only read Brighton Rock last year, despite loving Graham Greene and having been to school in Brighton. It depressed the hell out of me, but in a brilliant, brilliant way.
Sep. 9th, 2007 07:21 pm (UTC)
Yes - a lot of his books are infused with a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness, but this one more than most! Still, as you say, he does it so well that it remains entirely a pleasure to read.
Sep. 10th, 2007 05:30 pm (UTC)
I love Graham Greene - Our Man In Havanna and 'May We Borrow Your Husband' are my faves along with Brighton Rock.
Sep. 11th, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
Hello! i've added you if that's ok? was nice to meet you the other night & hope you guys had a nice meal :) I also shout verilly hear hear on the graham greene front. He is one of my favourite authors & have alot of empathy for his views on love/jealousy. I'm not sure which is my favourite, I probably most like "the comedians" & "the honourary consul" :)
Sep. 11th, 2007 07:59 pm (UTC)
Absolutely - I have added you right back! It was lovely to meet you too. :-)

It seems everyone has their own different fave Graham Greene book - although I really find it hard to pick out one myself. I've liked all the ones I've read so far!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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