English novelist Graham Greene (1904-1991) was restless, at times, greatly uneasy. This feeling is in his novels and thickens these memoirs, A Sort of Life. He admits a great fear of boredom, of a mind contained.
Greene was born within years of Steinbeck, Hemingway and Faulkner. Unlike them, however, he never won a Nobel Prize, although he was shortlisted twice. Critics pigeonholed Greene as a Catholic novelist. Although he defined that type of writing he objected to the label.
I find Greene’s fiction exceptional. Flush with self-examination without self-obsession.
In his memoirs, Greene circles childhood memories restlessly, pulling himself back to the streets where he was formed and forged. He stretches his self-awareness to understood what he was, did, and most of all, felt. “Those emotions were real when we felt them.” Greene’s work always demonstrates exceptional empathy, I am pleased he left some for himself.
Once in a while autobiographies have the fortitude to dig into the past for answers, to empathize with the child that existed rather than simply narrate for the sake of a book. Comedian John Cleese’s So, Anyway and certainly Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings are excellent examples.