In the High Peaks

Friday, July 6, 2018

Books Update: GG Curiosity and Now Meg Wolitzer

Graham Greene's writing has me amazed. Such a complex writer portraying all sorts of ambiguities with themes that are also complex and very well executed.

I'm astounded by Greene's The End of the Affair, the intricacies of character and ideas, and I end up wondering why I haven't been reading him much before now. He has written well over a dozen of novels, as well as other novels that he calls "entertainments." Most of these are spy novels, one could say. I have one in the house that I borrowed from our library system. It is The Ministry of Fear: An Entertainment, which was originally published in 1943, when fascism was still in its heyday. (As if it isn't now, for pete's sake, the blogger says, and she doesn't mean "pete." Believe me the blogger is dealing with HIM and his ilk.)

I am so curious about Greene, based on the online biographies I've scanned, that I want to read an excellent, highly-regarded biography of him. Evidently there is a 3-volume biography, and all I have to say to that is that he did have an extraordinarily rich life--many occupations, global travels (plural), many love affairs,  and yes that conversion to Catholicism, although as one writer has commented, Greene was a "Catholic agnostic." I think I get the gist of that, having been raised in the Catholic faith though I haven't practiced since I was 19.

So, in other book news, I've just started Meg Wolitzer's The Female Persuasion, which I didn't expect to be quite the manifesto it is appearing to be. (Link is to a BookPage interview.) I'm all for it, but it is hard to read and be reminded of the all-too-real and all-too-reminscent examples of WMD--white male domination over the course of a very long life. It's hard to be reminded of all the dozens and dozens of personal experiences of being put down as an intelligent woman, of being denied opportunities,  not to mention what was way back then the unspeakable experiences of being man-handled and  assaulted for no reason at all, other than for just being alive and being very good at a job. We've all experienced it, right, in one form or another? I'm not going to pretend it didn't happen, I'm not going to pretend that it didn't affect my world view or the shaping of my entire being, OR, MOST IMPORTANTLY,  the way that I read.


  1. I have not read that much by Graham Greene (one book) and I would like to read more books by him. I am going to have to make a bigger effort.

    I had not heard of the Wolitzer book. It sounds like I have had some better experiences in the working world as a woman than you have, but currently I work in programming databases in a department with mostly males and there are some frustrations in that area. I also grew up in the South where the expectations were to be a wife and mother, mostly. So I sympathize with your comments on those experiences.

    1. Hi Tracy,
      Sorry for taking so long to respond to your comment--
      A number of women have reported recently, (say in the past 4 months), about gender bias and other gender issues in tech companies. I think the ones I read about were women who work or have worked in the past for companies in Silicon Valley. A number of articles, as I recall, and even a book, it seems to me, but I don't recall anything more specific than that.

      Those of us who are somewhat older women remember those expectations. Wife, mother, maybe a teacher? A nurse? A secretary--all of those maybe.

      I think you would like Graham Greene. I would suggest The Quiet American, if you haven't read that. Or, you could see the movie first (1990s, I think-or maybe late 1980s. Excellent film.) Espionage, mystery, characters who are nothing as they seem, and ambiguities. Gosh--I think I need to see that movie again (so well done and great performances) and read the book again as well.

  2. Meg Wolitzer is fast becoming a favorite. The Female Persuasion definitely invokes those kinds of memories...

    1. Meg Wolitzer, I can see, is an important writer. I can also see that she may pick up where Marge Piercy left off. Did you ever have the good fortune to read her books--published in 1970s and 1980s, grand sweeping novels about women in late-20th-century America. I'm thinking of the best-seller Gone to Soldiers, which is as timely today as when it was published in the 1980s. She also wrote Small Changes, which, it seems every young woman read in the mid-1970s. I am certain that Meg Wolitzer would name Piercy as an influence on her work.
      And, I think, as sad as I feel about this, I feel it's too difficult to read Female Persuasion at this time. I think her work is very important, and I hope to get back to her, for certain.

    2. Judith - I never read Marge Piercy, but remember my mother-in-law speaking very highly of her work. Have been meaning to read her and this may just be the nudge I need. Later this week I will post a book brief of Wolitzer's earlier novel, The Ten-Year Nap. It examines a group of urban women (NYC, of course) who have dropped out of professional life to stay home with young children. As they reach 40, second thoughts arise. A worthwhile read.

    3. All of Wolitzer's novels, now that I've researched her, interest me very much. I'll look forward to reading your take on The Ten-Year Nap. The struggle for women continues!

  3. very nice article you shared. God bless you