Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Brighton Rock

I have had Brighton Rock on my shelf for years, always meaning to get around to it. I knew that, eventually, I would, especially since it's a book that practically everyone I know has read and enjoyed.

Well, I finally got around to it, thanks in large part to the Fill in the Gaps 100 Book list. When I made up my list, I knew I wanted Brighton Rock on it, partly as a way to make me finally get started on it and get it read.

I am glad I did. While I can't say that it is going to crack my list of 100 favorite books of all time or anything, I can say that I enjoyed the read. It's a quick-moving tale, and it makes you want to keep going on to see how it all turns out.

None of the characters in the book were likable, for me, but I did feel they were sympathetic in that they draw you into their story. You want to read along and see what they will do next, and how they will settle all the messes they've gotten themselves into. The Boy, Pinkie, is loathsome and yet pathetic, and seeing him move about the scene that Greene has set for him at Brighton makes one aware of just how good a writer Greene is. Those of his novels that I have read always seem to work this way for me — there are characters that I don't quite like (though I somehow care about them) moving about in these finely developed worlds at a pace that keeps me wanting to move forward. The story opens up, the end comes, and I end up feeling just a little stunned by how quickly it is over, and by the way the story has finally come to its inevitable conclusions. That's how it always seems to work with a Greene novel, at least for me, and it is enough to keep me coming back to read more of his work.

The world depicted in Brighton Rock is the rough arena of gangsterism, gambling, and murder. Pinkie is overmatched. You just know from early on that the guy doesn't stand a chance. And seeing his drama unfold, you can't help but care.

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