Thursday, July 14, 2011


Our Man in Havana, Graham Greene, The Viking Press, 1958, 220 pp

Graham Greene is such a good writer. Even in this book, clearly one of his "entertainments," where he starts out so much in the tone of a spoof, he just does not waste words. Within a few pages while Mr Wormold is being recruited for an English spy, in Havana, (profession: unsuccessful vacuum cleaner salesman); in those few pages the reader has the physical description and make-up of three or four major characters, the setting in Havana and the unsettled feeling that Mr Wormold is heading for trouble.

Then, once he has us convinced that we are reading a silly, possibly improbable story, Greene opens up those very characters as living, breathing persons with concerns of the heart and unrealized professional goals.

And so it goes. Will Mr Wormold get caught out for his outrageous schemes? Is Dr Hasselbacher a friend or a foe? Is Wormold's daughter Milly as much of an airhead as she seems? Most of all, are the secret services of any given country truly as inept and gullible as they are portrayed?

Entertainment indeed, but so much more. When I finished, I could not think of any writer as good as Graham Greene.

(Our Man in Havana is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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