Monday, July 31, 2017

Ways of Escape [1980]

Graham Greene lived an extraordinary life; he travelled to a series of exotic and troubled locations around the world – courting risks and even grave danger, and collecting compelling experiences along the way – through a mix of professional requirements (as a writer, an on-off journalist and, for a brief period, a member of the MI6) and of his own volition (some got translated into novels and non-fictions, while others didn’t); or, as he made it abundantly clear in Ways of Escape, courtesy his life-long desire for and attempts at escape. Though, on paper, this was a follow-up to his 1st autobiographical book A Sort of Life, he positioned this as more of an account of Greene the writer rather than Greene the person; however, given how integral writing was in the life of this incredibly prolific writer, it became, in effect, a gripping and fascinating look into Greene the person as well – his mind and inner working, foibles and personal failings, idiosyncrasies and addictions, varied opinions on religion and politics, and, most importantly, fascinating insights and sneak peaks into his bibliography that any Greene aficionado would preserve in gold. And this is a terrific travelogue too as one joins him in his engrossing journeys – Liberia (which led to Journey without Maps), Mexico (The Lawless Roads and The Power and the Glory), Kenya (The Heart of the Matter), Malaya, Vietnam (The Quiet American), Cuba (Our Man in Havana), Belgian Congo (A Burnt-Out Case), Haiti (The Comedians), Argentina and Paraguay (The Honorary Consul), War-time and post-War Europe. Along the road one gets to know about his disdain for critics classifying some of his books as ‘Catholic novels’, his many trysts with drugs (Benzedrine, marijuana, cocaine) and depression, his enduring friendships with Albert Corda (for whom he wrote many screenplays, including the text for The Third Man) and Evelyn Waugh, his late-career attempts at plays, the innumerable near-misses of his life, and how real people and experiences got so irresistibly imbued into his many tales and myriad characters.

Author: Graham Greene
Genre: Non-Fiction/Autobiography/Memoir/Travelogue
Language: English
Country: UK

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