The Last Word and Other Stories

Overview

These twelve stories, dating from 1923 to 1989, represent the quintessential Graham Greene. Rich in gallows humor, they have the power both to move and to entertain. Included here are such famous stories as "The Last Word", "The News in English", "The Lieutenant Died Last", and "The Lottery Ticket", as well as his masterly detective story "Murder for the Wrong Reason".
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Overview

These twelve stories, dating from 1923 to 1989, represent the quintessential Graham Greene. Rich in gallows humor, they have the power both to move and to entertain. Included here are such famous stories as "The Last Word", "The News in English", "The Lieutenant Died Last", and "The Lottery Ticket", as well as his masterly detective story "Murder for the Wrong Reason".
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Editorial Reviews

Herbert Mitgang
Here in microcosm are echoes of his major novels, but all the stories stand on their own....Mr. Greene is willing to venture, possibly to lecture and offend, and yet to reveal himself as an author who hasn't quite given up on the remote chance for a more humane world. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his latest collection of short stories, spanning some 60 years of a prolific writing life, the range and development of Greene's ( The Heart of the Matter ) gifts are abundantly evident. In ``The Lottery Ticket'' (1947), Mr. Thriplow, a bachelor caught in the throes of ``timidity,'' vacations in a desolate Mexican town and becomes embroiled in his own guilt (and the town's corrupt government) after winning a local lottery. In ``Work Not in Progress'' a bishop of Melbourne falls in love with a female thug masquerading as the archbishop of Canterbury. These are but a few in the array of vintage Greene characters, many leaping from the page. Of the dozen stories offered, only four have previously appeared in books; one (``A Branch of the Service'') sees print here for the first time. The growth of Greene's technique is readily observable, from the realistic (``The New House,'' 1929) to the carefully ironic (``An Appointment with the General,'' 1982). The order of the stories is also pleasing, beginning with fiction that calls on memory, moving on to the detective genre and even including a piece constructed as a musical comedy. In all, the volume serves admirably well as a microcosmic view of Greene's entire body of work to date. (Feb.)
Library Journal
This modest volume gathers uncollected stories from the entire range of Greene's career. The earliest dates from 1923 (!) and the latest from 1989. One of the best, ``A Branch of the Service,'' concerning a spy unequal to the gastronomical rigors of shadowing suspects over dinner, has never been printed before. The other standout is the title story, in which an old man with amnesia learns on the day of his death that he is not only the last Christian but the last Pope as well. The rest of these dozen stories display Greene's characteristic mixture of farce and melancholy (``Grim Grin'' is a common pun on his name) but will add little to his considerable reputation. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/90.-- Grove Koger, Boise P.L., Id.
School Library Journal
YA-- This collection of 12 stories spans 66 years of creativity by this prolific writer who passed away in April, 1991. Its publication is not without a certain irony because unless unpublished works are yet to appear in print, it may indeed be Greene's ``last word.'' It begins with a brief preface in which the author explains the reason for the inclusion of these particular stories. ``A Branch of the Service'' is published here for the first time. Several of the other selections appeared years ago in various literary magazines. All in some way bare the human soul. Characteristic themes of Greene's other works prevail--isolation, misunderstood love, spiritual hunger, and a certain painful ennui. There is one tongue-in-cheek piece titled ``The Man Who Stole the Eiffel Tower.'' --Cynthia J. Rieben, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Graham Greene (1904-1991) was a prolific novelist, short story writer, travel writer and children's book writer. Many of his novels and short stories have been successfully adapted to the movie screen, including The Third Man (directed by Orson Welles), The End of The Affair, and The Quiet American

Biography

Known for his espionage thrillers set in exotic locales, Graham Greene is the writer who launched a thousand travel journalists. But although Greene produced some unabashedly commercial works -- he called them "entertainments," to distinguish them from his novels -- even his escapist fiction is rooted in the gritty realities he encountered around the globe. "Greeneland" is a place of seedy bars and strained loyalties, of moral dissolution and physical decay.

Greene spent his university years at Oxford "drunk and debt-ridden," and claimed to have played Russian roulette as an antidote to boredom. At age 21 he converted to Roman Catholicism, later saying, "I had to find a religion...to measure my evil against." His first published novel, The Man Within, did well enough to earn him an advance from his publishers, but though Greene quit his job as a Times subeditor to write full-time, his next two novels were unsuccessful. Finally, pressed for money, he set out to write a work of popular fiction. Stamboul Train (also published as The Orient Express) was the first of many commercial successes.

Throughout the 1930s, Greene wrote novels, reviewed books and movies for the Spectator, and traveled through eastern Europe, Liberia, and Mexico. One of his best-known works, Brighton Rock, was published during this time; The Power and the Glory, generally considered Greene's masterpiece, appeared in 1940. Along with The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair, they cemented Greene's reputation as a serious novelist -- though George Orwell complained about Greene's idea "that there is something rather distingué in being damned; Hell is a sort of high-class nightclub, entry to which is reserved for Catholics only."

During World War II, Greene was stationed in Sierra Leone, where he worked in an intelligence capacity for the British Foreign Office under Kim Philby, who later defected to the Soviet Union. After the war, Greene continued to write stories, plays, and novels, including The Quiet American, Travels with My Aunt, The Honorary Consul, and The Captain and the Enemy. For a time, he worked as a screenwriter for MGM, producing both original screenplays and scripts adapted from his fiction.

He also continued to travel, reporting from Vietnam, Haiti, and Panama, among other places, and he became a vocal critic of U.S. foreign policy in Central America. Some biographers have suggested that his friendships with Communist leaders were a ploy, and that he was secretly gathering intelligence for the British government. The more common view is that Greene's leftist leanings were part of his lifelong sympathy with the world's underdogs -- what John Updike called his "will to compassion, an ideal communism even more Christian than Communist. Its unit is the individual, not any class."

But if Greene's politics were sometimes difficult to decipher, his stature as a novelist has seldom been in doubt, in spite of the light fiction he produced. Kingsley Amis, Evelyn Waugh, and R. K. Narayan paid tribute to his work, and William Golding prophesied: "He will be read and remembered as the ultimate chronicler of twentieth-century man's consciousness and anxiety."

Good To Know

Greene's philandering ways were legendary; he frequently visited prostitutes and had several mistresses, including Catherine Walston, who converted to Catholicism after reading The Power and the Glory and wrote to Greene asking him to be her godfather. After a brief period of correspondence, the two met, and their relationship inspired Greene's novel The End of the Affair.

Greene was a film critic, screenwriter, and avid moviegoer, and critics have sometimes praised the cinematic quality of his style. His most famous screenplay was The Third Man, which he cowrote with director Carol Reed. Recently, new film adaptations have been made of Greene's novels The End of the Affair and The Quiet American. Greene's work has also formed the basis for an opera: Our Man in Havana, composed by Malcolm Williamson.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Henry Graham Greene (birth name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 2, 1904
    2. Place of Birth:
      Berkhamsted, England
    1. Date of Death:
      April 3, 1991
    2. Place of Death:
      Vevey, Switzerland

Table of Contents

The Last Word and Other Stories Preface The Last Word The News in English The Moment of Truth The Man who Stole the Eiffel Tower The Lieutenant Died Last A Branch of the Service An Old Man's Memory The Lottery Ticket The New House Work Not in Progress Murder for the Wrong Reason An Appointment with the General

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