Donaghy's valuable edition consists of a reprinting of seventeen interviews with Graham Greene, beginning with J. Maclaren-Ross's recollection of a luncheon with him in 1938 (published in 1964), just after the publication of Brighton Rock, and closing with an interview from 1988, three years before his death in April 1991. The book is part of a "Literary Conversations Series," which is now in progress. [End Page 964]
Greene scholars will find little new here but will have the advantage of gaining ready access to some of the lesser known "conversations" through Donaghy's carefully preserved and unexpurgated texts. For the reader farther afield, Donaghy has performed the singular feat of profiling through these carefully selected interviews one of the most brilliant, wide-ranging, impish, and oftentimes most maddeningly contrary minds of our time. This collection should be required reading for anyone wishing to catch within the covers of one book, meaningful glimpses of a highly complex and gifted writer.
Whether by design or by accident, Donaghy has included Penelope Gilliatt's controversial New Yorker interview, which Greene took pains to discredit in a letter to the New Statesman, and Michael Mewshaw's interview in the Nation and London Magazine, from which Gilliatt was accused by Mewshaw (not "Menshaw" as Donaghy has it) of borrowing inappropriately. Amid the fuss Gilliatt took a leave from the New Yorker, but her career and the interview seem to have survived, fortunately for us. With both texts present in Donaghy's collection, readers can judge for themselves who did what to whom, though Gilliatt's must be treated skeptically.
The interviews, spanning a period of over fifty years, confirm certain truths about Greene: that he always guarded his privacy and that of his family zealously, that his interest in religion always tended to be crowded out by his interest in geopolitics, that he could be savage and deeply biased, that he could almost always be charming, witty, and deeply insightful. Donaghy has indeed done a real service in providing such an intelligently chosen, clearly introduced, and carefully indexed selection.