Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Graham Greene's Clapham affair

The End of the AffairThe End of the Affair by Graham Greene

Greene's account of a writer's affair, conducted between what sounds like opposite sides of Clapham Common during the Blitz, is readable, but not quite as interesting to me as the other two of his novels I read - Our Man in Havana and The Heart of the Matter.

There are some nice insights into the mind of a novelist (the determination to crank out the 500 words a day, and the problem of the character who won't come to life, who makes the whole writing process a misery every time he's in a scene) and some quaint detail about wartime lunches and dinners 'in town'.

The religious theme, the idea that the mistress may be more loyal to God than to her lover, sits uneasily with the realism of the rest of the novel, especially with the introduction of a rationalist preacher into to the love affair. But the characters are beautifully drawn, and the dialogue utterly convincing. Especially successful is the comic private detective who uses his son as his apprentice. At its heart is a perhaps surprisingly raw account of a lover's changing emotions.

For me, there were somehow too many different kinds of elements - from the comic, to the confessional via a thesis about morality. But it may be that the same kind of dizzying range was present in the other books I read but was somehow disguised for me by their more exotic locations. I wouldn't want to put anyone off the book, but nor would I press it upon them.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Trainspotting: a good day on the Waterloo line

A sunny journey from Mortlake to Battersea. Trains precisely on time, and the journey costs just £1.50 now using an Oyster card. No wonder it was full, even though there are trains every twenty minutes. Much easier and more enjoyable than driving.