Why shouldn't I? I demand silently. Why shouldn't I become a famous writer? Like Norman Mailer. Or Philip Roth. And F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemmingway and all those other men. Why can't I be like them? I mean, what is the point of becoming a writer if no one reads what you've written? Damn Viktor Greene and The New School. Why do I have to keep proving myself all of the time? Why can't I be like L'il, with everyone praising and encouraging me? Or Rainbow, with her sense of entitlement. I bet Viktor Greene never asked Rainbow why she wanted to be a writer. Or what if-I wince-Viktor Greene is right? I'm not a writer after all.
As a precocious teen I dreamed of being Graham Greene. Well, as it turned out, I never wrote a great novel, sadly, and I never converted to Catholicism, happily, but I did do one thing he did. That is, in middle age I moved to a seaside town and got into a right barney with the local powers-that-be.
ONCE UPON A TIME, BROOKLYN WAS THE SCENE IN THE PROJECT THAT THEY CALLED FORT GREENE THERE LIVED A YOUNG MAN, CINDERFELLA'S HIS NAME TO MAKE IT INTERESTING IT'S ME, DANA DANE I LIVED IN A HOUSE WITH MY CRUEL STEP-DAD AND TWO STEP-BROTHERS WHO TREATED ME BAD I COOKED, I CLEANED, I SCRUBBED THE FLOORS AND I WAS LIKE AN ERRAND BOY RUNNIN' TO THE STORES MY BROTHERS, THEY USED TO BOAST AND BRAG 'WE'VE GOT FRESH GEAR AND YOU'VE GOT RAGS!' EVEN WORSE THAN THAT, TO MAKE ME FEEL LOW THEY GAVE ME A STRAW HAT, WHILE THEY HAD KANGOLS GIRLS USED TO SAY, 'DANE, YOU'RE SO CUTE BUT YOU GETS NO RAP WITH THEM POLYESTER SUITS' WELL, ONE DAY, UP THE AVENUE THERE WAS A MAN SURROUNDED BY THE FORT GREENE CREW HE SAID, 'HEAR YE! HEAR YE! COME ONE, COME ALL THE PRINCESS IS HAVING A ROYAL BALL IF YOU CAN RAP, ALSO DRESS FRESH YOU MIGHT WIN A DATE WITH THE SWEET PRINCESS' WELL I, UM, RAN HOME WHEN I HEARD THE NEWSFLASH I BUST THROUGH THE DOOR, STRAIGHT TO MY STEP-DAD I SAID 'STEP-DAD, MAY I?' AND BEFORE I COULD FINISH, 'HELL NO!', HE REPLIED MY BROTHERS WERE GOIN', THEY WERE GEARED DOWN EVEN POPS WAS GOIN' FOR A PIECE OF THE CROWN THEY FLAUNTED, THEY HAUNTED, THEY KNEW WHAT I WANTED 'WE CAN AND YOU CAN'T' IS WHAT THEY TAUNTED THEY ALL STOOD THERE LAUGHING IN MY FACE AND AS THEY WALKED OUT THEY SAID, 'CLEAN UP THIS PLACE!'
Major Greene this evening fell into some conversation with me about the Divinity and satisfaction of Jesus Christ. All the argument he advanced was, "that a mere creature or finite being could not make satisfaction to infinite justice for any crimes," and that "these things are very mysterious." Thus mystery is made a convenient cover for absurdity.
The sad fact is that I love Dickens and Donne and Keats and Eliot and Forster and Conrad and Fitzgerald and Kafka and Wilde and Orwell and Waugh and Marvell and Greene and Sterne and Shakespeare and Webster and Swift and Yeats and Joyce and Hardy, really, really love them. It's just that they don't love me back.
Of John Le Carre's books, I've only read 'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold,' and I haven't read anything by Graham Greene, but I've heard a great deal about how 'Your Republic Is Calling You' reminded English readers of those two writers. I don't really have any particular interest in Cold War spy novels.
On the plane, I like to read fiction set in the location I'm going to. Fiction is in many ways more useful than a guidebook, because it gives you those little details, a sense of the way a place smells, an emotional sense of the place. So, I'll bring Graham Greene's The Quiet American if I'm going to Vietnam. It's good to feel romantic about a destination before you arrive.
It has long been a source of wonder to me why the leading criminological writers--men like Edmund Lester Pearson, H. B. Irving, Filson Young, Canon Brookes, William Bolitho, and Harold Eaton--have not devoted more space to the Greene tragedy; for here, surely, is one of the outstanding murder mysteries of modern times--a case practically unique in the annals of latter-day crime.
S. S. Van Dine
What more delightsome than an infinite varietie of sweet smelling flowers? decking with sundry colours the greene mantle of the Earth, the universall Mother of us all, so by them bespotted, so dyed, that all the world cannot sample them, and wherein it is more fit to admire the Dyer, than imitate his workemanship. Colouring not onely the earth, but decking the ayre, and sweetning every breath and spirit.
[Professor Greene's] reaction to GAMAY, as published in the Yale Daily News, fairly took one's breath away. He fondled the word "fascist" as though he had come up with a Dead Sea Scroll vouchsafing the key word to the understanding of God and Man at Yale. In a few sentences he used the term thrice. "Mr. Buckley has done Yale a great service" (how I would tire of this pedestrian rhetorical device), "and he may well do the cause of liberal education in America an even greater service, by stating the fascist alternative to liberalism. This fascist thesis... This... pure fascism... What more could Hitler, Mussolini, or Stalin ask for... ?" (They asked for, and got, a great deal more.) What survives, from such stuff as this, is ne-plus-ultra relativism, idiot nihlism. "What is required, " Professor Greene spoke, "is more, not less tolerance-not the tolerance of indifference, but the tolerance of honest respect for divergent convictions and the determination of all that such divergent opinions be heard without administrative censorship. I try my best in the classroom to expound and defend my faith, when it is relevant, as honestly and persuasively as I can. But I can do so only because many of my colleagues are expounding and defending their contrasting faiths, or skepticisms, as openly and honestly as I am mine." A professor of philosophy! Question: What is the 1) ethical, 2) philosophical, or 3) epistemological argument for requiring continued tolerance of ideas whose discrediting it is the purpose of education to effect? What ethical code (in the Bible? in Plato? Kant? Hume?) requires "honest respect" for any divergent conviction?
William F. Buckley Jr.
Few people know this, but I am a trained assassin, skilled in jujitsu and krav maga. I can also, with a few folds, turn an ordinary piece of notebook paper into a lethal weapon. Or I can turn it into a butterfly, which is a great trick when I'm babysitting." I fought a smile. "A trained assassin who babysits." "Only the Greene twins and only because their family gets every premium channel on the planet.
Laurie Halse Anderson
A pleasant morning. Saw my classmates Gardner, and Wheeler. Wheeler dined, spent the afternoon, and drank Tea with me. Supped at Major Gardiners, and engag'd to keep School at Bristol, provided Worcester People, at their ensuing March meeting, should change this into a moving School, not otherwise. Major Greene this Evening fell into some conversation with me about the Divinity and Satisfaction of Jesus Christ. All the Argument he advanced was, 'that a mere creature, or finite Being, could not make Satisfaction to infinite justice, for any Crimes, ' and that 'these things are very mysterious.' (Thus mystery is made a convenient Cover for absurdity.) [Diary entry, February 13 1756]
If a writer has to find a rhythm if his novel is to come 'right', a rhythm which he may well discover in the rhythm of an individual sentence, then likewise a reader has to find a corresponding rhythm in his reading, which may equally well be discovered in responding to local effect. The intimacy of this relationship between writer and reader is well caught in a recent observation made by Graham Greene, 'Novels should always have, if not dull, then at least level patches. That's where the excessive use of film technique, cutting sharply from intensity to intensity is harmful... The writer needs level passages for his subconscious to work up to the sharp scenes... and the reader needs those level patches too, so that he can share in the processes of creation-not by conscious analysis, but by absorption?' To reflect on the wide-ranging effects of rhythm in reading would seem to be one way of making a start on tracing that obscure route that leads from 'absorption' to 'conscious analysis'.