Tagged with graham greene

Ceci n’est pas Graham Greene—a mystery solved

About four months ago, I stumbled across a picture which was incorrectly identified as being Graham Greene. I recently had someone (via Hacker News, of all places) identify the mystery individual as Artur Lundqvist, a member of the Swedish academy.

Now, this is especially ironic given Greene’s storied history with his non-receipt of the Nobel Prize in literature. It was largely considered to be the result of a personal dislike of Greene on the part of several members of the Swedish Academy, and wondering if Lundqvist was part of said “cabal,” I did a Google search on “Graham Greene Artur Lundqvist” and turned up a 1980 article in the Washington Post in which the question was put directly to Lundqvist. Lundqvist offered a number of excuses, none of which was particularly compelling: “I think his work has declined.” “Greene is too popular.” “He doesn’t need the money.” Overall, he came across as peevish and defensive. I suspect that if anything, this particular interview may have resulted in whatever small chances Greene might have had of receiving the Nobel in his last decade of life vanishing.

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Ceci n’est pas Graham Greene

I somewhat randomly found myself at the website for the Harry Ransom Center and remembering that they had some (most? all?) of Graham Greene’s archive there, I thought I’d see what they had and found this picture, labelled “Gabriel García Márquez and Graham Greene”:

Picture of Gabriel García Márquez and someone who is definitely NOT Graham Greene

My first thought was, whoa, is that a picture of Greene with a mustache? Then I said, wait a minute, that doesn’t look like Graham Greene at all. In the same search results, there’s another picture and this is Graham Greene:

Gabriel García Márquez and Graham Greene

I don’t know how the other guy got mis-identified, and I don’t know how to let the HRC people know that they have a mistake, but there it is.

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“Our Lady of the Freeway”: The Story Behind the Story


You can purchase a copy of Headland Journal No. 6 here to read “Our Lady of the Freeway.”

This is a story I’ve been trying to write for almost thirty years. Preparing to write this post, I spent a bunch of time digging through my notebook covering 1988–1991 but didn’t find any trace of this, although I can remember working on an early version of the story set in Germany with a lot of details copped from the Hotel Grillparzer sections of The World According to Garp. I’m sure if I dug through my notebooks and scraps of hard drive from days gone by, I might turn up some of those early attempts. Later, I read John Biguenet’s “The Vile Soul” in Granta and found myself despairing because Biguenet succeeded in doing what I wanted to do with my story and much better than I was capable of doing that.

During my MFA, I needed to generate some new material for workshop during my second residency and I decided to resurrect this idea and see where it led me. I chose to re-set the story in Los Angeles as it’s a city that I know well (all the locations in the story are real). I had a rough idea of the story having attempted to write it before, but this time, I had a second character appear besides the narrator and with his appearance, the story developed new life beyond the question of the apparitions at the center of the story.

I tend to choose character names with some indirect significance if only to help me keep them straight in my mind In this instance, the two main characters, Henry and Arthur derive their names from the unused first names of the English Catholic novelists Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, respectively, The characters take their attitude toward Catholicism loosely on the personalities of those two writers as well.

Before its eventual acceptance, this story received 26 rejections including nine “encouraging” rejections. On the final round of submissions, one journal accepted it on the day it was sent. I’m not sure how they ended up in my submission list, but I think it was a case of the journal doing a follow-unfollow on Twitter in hopes of dredging up followers. I decided to decline the acceptance, figuring that I’d rather have it go some place with high enough standards to spend more than a day to accept a piece and that if the story was so good that it’d merit a one-day acceptance, it would be accepted elsewhere as well. It was.

The workshop group who gave me input on the earlier draft of this story was composed of Tibor Fischer, Kat Grilli, Steven Paul Lanski, Kossiwa Logan and Ryan McConkey,

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Dewey Decimal Project: 202.11 WAU God: The Biography


It was the name on the spine that caught my attention. I discovered the writing of Waugh’s grandfather, Evelyn Waugh when I was in college after encountering a mention of him in Graham Greene’s Ways of Escape.

The elder Waugh, like Greene, was notable as an author who had converted to Catholicism and who had brought a great deal of religious sensibility to his work. The faith, however, did not continue long in the family with Waugh’s son Auberon growing detached from the church and Alexander appears to be even further estranged from the faith.

The resulting book is irreverent, although its attempts at humor often miss the mark with Waugh taking aim at the simple apparent contradictions of the Bible, choosing his citations in a way to emphasize the absurdity of God. From the blurbs on the book, I had expected something more nuanced and compelling, but instead it came across as being something at the level of a clever college student writing on the topic. Perhaps Waugh should have taken the offer his father made to pay him the amount of the advance to not write the book.

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