Our Man In Havanarama


Reality in our century is not something to be faced.
— Graham Greene, Our Man In Havana

It's been a few years since I read Brighton Rock, which I felt obliged to; it being one of the major works of fiction about my place of residence. I'll confess it rather put me off reading any more Greene—I found it a bit dour and dreary for my liking. However, I discovered that his works are divided between his "serious" Catholic novels and his "entertainments", so I thought maybe I'd give one of the entertainments a try. Clearly, I prefer Graham M. Greene to Graham Greene, as I took to Our Man In Havana far more. It was lighter; more darkly comic than just dark. It was also very funny throughout, a kind of indirect humour through implication and understatement that reminded me of Wodehouse or Richmal Crompton, or possibly just any posh English humour writer of the early twentieth century. It also had one of my favourite things in fiction: an self-important, self-regarding, incompetent bureaucracy full of arse-covering blunderers who get rolled by a combination of excessive daydreaming, desire not to rock the boat and their own bad decisions. Spies being just as useless as everyone else and that only really escaping notice through all the secrecy that makes them seem like they know what they're doing in the first place is also really my thing.

I maybe could've done without the slightly noncey-vibe descriptions of the main character's daughter from the main character's viewpoint, but hey-ho.