THE QUEST FOR GRAHAM GREENE by W.J. West

THE QUEST FOR GRAHAM GREENE

A Biography
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An occasionally enticing if episodic inquest into Greene's lifelong balancing act on ``the dangerous edge of things'' (his favorite Browning quote). Armed with findings from Greene archives at Boston College and the University of Texas, Austin, West's (editor, Orwell: The War Commentaries, 1986) book amends some neglected points in Norman Sherry's thoroughly researched, ongoing authorized biography (1989, 1994), disputes much of Michael Sheldon's animus-driven Graham Greene: The Enemy Within (1995), and corrects Greene's own misleading memoirs. The sometimes scattered results of West's quest for the real Greene do not form a compelling or truly coherent psychological portrait--conjectures about Greene's adolescent breakdown and his relationship with his psychoanalyst (and the analyst's wife), for example, are especially tenuous--but they do score a few intriguing points. His big coup, tied together from several sources, is the secret behind Greene's self-exile from England in 1966. The scenario, which involved one Tom Roe, Greene's dubious financial advisor, who was mixed up with counterfeiters and Hollywood Mafia, and Roe's disastrous and fraudulent handling of some of Greene's off-shore investments, is as seamy as any in his novels (and West finds some inside jokes about currency smuggling in Travels with My Aunt). More often, though, West only dutifully brings to light peripheral players, such as James Hadley Chase, a thriller writer Greene edited while working in publishing after the war, and Ben Greene, a pacifist cousin who was a political internee during the Blitz, without making solid claims to their roles in Greene's life. Even his revelations about Greene's continuing relationship with the double-agent Kim Philby, including their later correspondence in the last phase of the Cold War, await complete disclosure. While Greene aficionados anticipate Sherry's next volume, West supplies them with some tantalizing points and leaves open many, many questions. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-18161-2
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1997




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