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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Grahan Greene's "entertainment" Our Man in Havana gets serious

Graham Greene's 1958 "entertainment," Our Man in Havana, is a quick read, very funny at times, a terrific concept - out of lethargy and ineptitude, the British secret service recruits a vacuum-cleaner salesman to be their eyes in Cuba and the man, completely ignorant as to how to function as a spy, makes up fake reports and in return gets fairly lavish expense reimbursements - makes for a terrific send-up of spy novels in general and of the British spymasters in particular. It's easy to dismiss this novel, as Greene does w/ his refusal to characters it as such, but it's worth noting that this novel or entertainment or whatever you want to call it, gets pretty serious toward the end. It's all very funny that the "spy" Wormold gives the home office names of his recruited sub-agents - some he's made up entirely (lots of funny meta-fictional observations about how making up a false spy is like writing a novel - the character makes up a character, so to speak), others are real residents of Havana (country-club members; the Brits paid for Wormold to join the club supposedly to make contacts - in fact he wanted riding privileges for his spoiled daughter). But word leaks as to the ID's of his "agents" and they start getting threatened, abducted, one is even killed. This lark becomes a serious, or at least a serio-comic game. I've never seen it, but I'm sure this book has been translated successfully into film; today, it would probably have skipped the "novel" phase altogether and gone straight to screenplay. Follow the $.

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