THE LIFE OF GRAHAM GREENE

VOLUME III: 1955-1991

Marked by sorrow and disappointment, but plenty of fascinating adventures. An exemplary biography, of profound interest to...

The third and final volume of Sherry’s superb life of the English novelist and man of letters, a monumental work published over the last 15 years.

The first moments of Sherry’s (Literature/Trinity Univ.) last installment find Graham Greene in middle age, and none too happy about it. His energies seem boundless: he is being published regularly, earning a fine income, smoking opium, being sought out for opinion and commentary. But the world is wearying Greene: here, ten years after the end of WWII and his work in the shadow world of military intelligence, he seems depressed at the apparent lack of adventure that has come with his success. Writes Sherry: “Journeys were Greene’s means of controlling depression. He often came out of melancholy with a sudden eagerness for new ventures.” The new ventures Sherry describes are many, worthy of volumes of their own (some of which Greene got around to writing): he travels to Vietnam, finding the material for The Quiet American, and to Cuba, capturing the Fidelista revolution in Our Man in Havana and, incidentally, smuggling socks and sweaters for the mountain-bound revolutionaries; he finds new love outside the house; he takes a place on the board of one of England’s best publishing houses and becomes a vigorous editor, acquiring Charlie Chaplin’s memoirs for publication. Chalk all this up to the legendary, emulation-worthy Greene. Sherry gives us another Greene, though, who is rather more disagreeable, beset, as a Catholic, by doubts over the existence of God, given to quarreling with protégés and admirers over trivial matters, so convinced of his greatness that he thinks nothing of overriding his fellow judges in a literary prize competition to champion a second-tier writer whose work just happens to resemble early Graham Greene. Not all shared Greene’s self-assessment, least of all the members of the Swedish Academy, who denied Greene the one thing he seemingly craved more than anything else: the Nobel Prize in literature.

Marked by sorrow and disappointment, but plenty of fascinating adventures. An exemplary biography, of profound interest to admirers of Greene’s work and to students of contemporary letters.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-670-03142-9

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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