Graham Greene's second autobiography, Ways of Escape, begins when he is 27. Greene recounts his many reporting trips around the world and only hints at the personal turmoil in his life. We don't see his failing marriage up close nor meet any of his mistresses. Greene simply takes the reader from one adventure to the next.
The following facts jumped out at me:
1. Greene did cocaine. Perhaps he chummed around with Capote too much? Greene makes it clear that he would do anything to escape boredom. He recounts a story about buying fake cocaine that doesn't lead anywhere. He is anxious to impress on the reader that he is restless and would go to any length to amuse himself.
2. Greene's writing pace: "I could usually write a novel in nine months." Although, he finished The Confidential Agent in six weeks thanks to a brief reliance on Benzedrine.
3. Greene was considering suicide when he wrote my favorite of his books, The Heart of the Matter. He is uncomfortable with the book and wonders why so many found it moving. He counts The Honorary Counsel to be his finest.
3. His advice on writing is common, but bears repeating. "The beastly adverb--far more damaging to a writer than an adjective." Greene recommends Waugh's The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold as an example of a writer's book free from extraneous words.
4. Greene reviewed movies and was "horrified" at the arrival of talking pictures and, later, technicolor. He grew to enjoy both over time. One of his tepid reviews made Shirley Temple file a libel suit against him.
5. Greene had a doppelganger. An Australian man with Greene's name traveled around the world, wooing woman, pretending to be Greene the author. A reporter believing the impostor to be the real thing caught up with him in Geneva and asked if he was writing a new book. The fake Greene replied that, no, he wasn't. He was going to take a "true holiday."