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Month in review

Reviews:
Alphabet Mystery by Audrey Wood
The Best Friend I Ever Had by David Nuffer
Beyond the Blue Event Horizon by Frederik Pohl
Black Rainbow by Barbara Michaels
The Bomb That Followed Me Home by Cevin Soling
Catalog by Eugene Mirabelli
The Chemist by Janson Mancheski
Culture Shock! California by Mark Cramer
The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig
Duck on a Bike by David Shannon
Duck for President by Doreen Cronin
Heechee Rendezvous by Frederik Pohl
How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo
Keeping Hannah Waiting by Dave Clarke
Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
Love in 90 Days by Diana Kirschner
The Night We Buried Road Dog by Jack Cady
Of Dreams and Reality by Frank L. Johnson
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
Purplicious by Elizabeth and Victoria Kann
School Days by B. G. Hennessy
The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay
Sister Margaret by Rhonda Parrish
A Surprise for Rosie by Julia Rawlinson
Texas Bake Sale by Charles Coleman Finlay
There's a Wolf at the Door by Zoë B. Alley
Tiger Burning Bright by Theodora DuBois
Venice by Adrian Stokes and John Piper
Winding Broomcorn by Mario Milosevic
The Whole Shebang by Timothy Ferris

Ulysses:
Episode 2: Nestor: Kif
Episode 3: Proteus: Georgia Nicholson
Episode 4: Calypso: Parasites Lost
Episode 5: The Lotus Eaters: Down to the River to Pray

Miscellaneous:
Historical Fiction

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Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8



Comments for Our Man in Havana

Our Man in HavanaOur Man in Havana: 03/13/09

Carol Reed and Graham Greene collaborated on a number of films. Their best known collaboration is The Third Man (1949) but my favorite one is Our Man in Havana (1960). Procrastination and budgetary problems ended up putting the filming right at the start of the Cuban revolution and forever changed a little film about a vacuum salesman into something extraordinary.

Graham Greene is no stranger to combining humor, politics and war. The Heart of the Matter set evokes Greene's experiences in Sierra Leon during WWII and it while humorous is a much darker and serious novel from the very beginning. Likewise, The Third Man is set in Vienna in the aftermath of WWII and has its mixture of pulp culture humor and post war-time commentary.

Our Man in Havana, though, starts off both in the book and in the film on a much lighter note. Havana is presented as an out of the way place too off the radar to be of much interest to anyone. Nonetheless, the home office needs a man (spy) there to keep tabs on the local situation in case things hot up. The man sent to recruit a spy, Hawthorne (played by Noel Coward in the film) sees this directive as a complete waste of time and makes a half-assed effort by recruiting James Wormmold (played by Alec Guinness), a vacuum salesman. Likewise, Wormold (who is only ever called James or Jim if the situation is serious enough), doesn't believe anything will ever happen in Havana either but needs the money. To meet his quota, he makes up stories based on local people and submits diagrams based on his vacuums.

Had things gone very differently or the film been made five or ten years earlier, Wormold would have had a few lighthearted scrapes with the local authorities and Hawthorne would have been taught a lesson for his laziness and that would have been that. It would have been a cute parody on Reed and Greene's earlier and more serious films. But that's not what happened about midway through the book and the film the narrative takes a left turn.

Wormold's diagrams of "silos" (actually vacuum hoses) end up being eerie predictions of the near future Cuban Missile crisis. And as the film's opening text states: "This film is set in Cuba before the recent revolution." The story though it takes place before Castro (and Castro and the revolution are never named in the novel) the film was shot after Castro.

If you haven't had a chance to see the film or it's been a while since you've seen it, add it your Netflix queue or buy a copy. Then read the book. Or do it the other way around. But the two really do go together.

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Comment #1: Saturday, March, 14, 2009 at 06:28:44

hopeinbrazil

I've wanted to read Graham Greene for a long time. This sounds like an interesting book!



Comment #2: Saturday, March 14, 2009 at 17:48:33

Pussreboots

I highly recommend Graham Greene. My two favorite novels of his are Our Man in Havana and Monsignor Quixote.