So I imagine most of you will have seen the book cover task floating around Facebook recently. The one that goes something like this:
“I have been tasked by… to post the cover of a book I love without reason or review for seven days, and each day I will tag a friend to do the same. I nominate…”
I did this the other week and quite enjoyed it, although struggled to pick just seven books! But I kept wanting to explain my choices. You know when you love something and you want to tell people why you love it (often in great detail) in the hopes that you can make them love it too? Yea? I thought so…Well it occurred to me that maybe I could do that here and it’ll also break up the reviews, provide a little insight to the sorts of books that have made a lasting impression on me and give me an excuse to post pretty pictures of books – it’s a win, win, win. Well, for me anyway.
So here is the first of my seven picks, these will be published in no particular order, just the order I posted them in with the particular cover versions I posted. As I’ve never been able to answer the question “What is your favourite book?“…
It was pretty difficult to try and decide which Graham Greene book to choose, he became and has remained my favourite author over a decade ago. The way he wrote people is what I find so fascinating, there are no real heroes or villains in his books, he managed to capture the inherit flaws that are what makes us human and how easily good intentions can be twisted and lead a person down a path of self destruction. This is never more evident than in his 1948 novel The Heart of the Matter. However, ultimately I chose to post The Human Factor because despite Greene’s unparalleled ability to be depressing he also wrote brilliant observational humour, humour which is highlighted in a particular Malteser scene in The Human Factor. It has been a very long time since I read this book so you’ll have to forgive me for the copy-paste Goodreads blurb:
“A leak is traced to a small sub-section of SIS, sparking off the inevitable security checks, tensions and suspicions. The sort of atmosphere where mistakes could be made? For Maurice Castle it is the end of the line anyway and time for him to retire with his African wife, Sarah.
The Human Factor is Greene’s most extensive attempt to incorporate into fiction what he had learned of espionage when recruited by MI6 during World War II . . . What it offers is a veteran excursion into Greene’s imaginative world . . . Sometimes seen as a brooding prober into the dark recesses of the soul where sins and scruples alike fester, he is equally at home in sending a narrative careering along at break-neck pace . . . Raising the demarcation line between ‘serious’ fiction and fast-plotted entertainment, Greene ensures that components of both jostle energizingly together in his pages.” –from the Introduction by Peter Kemp –“
As the blurb mentions, the book draws on Greene’s personal experiences and involvement with MI6 during WWII, this is a theme that runs through several of his novels. – I’m yet to read his autobiographical books but have been informed that they are fascinating. – However, for me, the take away from this novel is the creeping sense of impeding disaster, a disaster you (as the reader) can see coming but the protagonist is blindly moving towards – this again is a common thread through Greene’s novels and one that leaves you hiding behind a metaphorical pillow screaming for the character to ‘just not do it!‘ I’ve only ever experienced one other writer that has been able to elicit the same response from me and that was at a live production of Arthur Miller’s A View From a Bridge.
What else can I say – if you haven’t read Greene why not give it a try? His books are short, easy to devour in a day and I can almost guarantee if anything in my ramblings has seemed appealing then you won’t be sorry. Just don’t expect a happy ending.
I hope anyone reading has a lovely weekend wherever in the world you may be.