Read Meie mees Havannas (Eesti Päevalehe romaaniklassika, #59) by Graham Greene Online

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Romaani tegevus toimub Kuubal mõni aeg enne seda kui Fidel Castro kukutas Fulgencio Batista režiimi.Tolmuimejaid valmistava firma esindaja, Suurbritannia kodakondsusega James Wormold (Jim Wormold), kellel on oma pood, tutvub oma poes Briti luureteenistuse töötaja Hawthorne'iga, kes värbab ta raha eest luureagendiks.Wormoldi abikaasa on ta ammu maha jätnud, asudes oma armukRomaani tegevus toimub Kuubal mõni aeg enne seda kui Fidel Castro kukutas Fulgencio Batista režiimi.Tolmuimejaid valmistava firma esindaja, Suurbritannia kodakondsusega James Wormold (Jim Wormold), kellel on oma pood, tutvub oma poes Briti luureteenistuse töötaja Hawthorne'iga, kes värbab ta raha eest luureagendiks.Wormoldi abikaasa on ta ammu maha jätnud, asudes oma armukesega elama USA-sse. Wormold elab koos oma 17-aastase tütre Millyga. Agendiks hakkab Wormold selleks, et täita oma tütre soove, sealhulgas hobuse ost, milleks tal muidu raha ei jätku. Samuti tahab ta tütart Šveitsi õppima saata.Wormold hakkab agente välja mõtlema, esitades agentidena väljamõeldud inimesi ning inimesi, keda ta teab ainult nimepidi...

Title : Meie mees Havannas (Eesti Päevalehe romaaniklassika, #59)
Author :
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ISBN : 9788498199604
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 191 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Meie mees Havannas (Eesti Päevalehe romaaniklassika, #59) Reviews

  • Jean
    2019-04-16 05:36

    Graham Greene is one of the most highly regarded British authors of the 20th century. The American novelist John Irving has paid tribute to him, calling him,"the most accomplished living novelist in the English language."Very popular as a thriller-writer, writing "entertainments", as he called them, Graham Greene also wrote deeply serious Catholic novels, which received much literary acclaim, although he never actually won the Nobel prize for Literature. In these he examined contemporary moral and political issues through a Catholic perspective. Many of them are powerful Christian portrayals, concerning the struggles within the individual's soul. He argued vehemently against being characterised as a "Catholic novelist" however, saying that he was a novelist who happened to be a Catholic. Graham Greene had been an unhappy child, attempting suicide several times according to his autobiography, and as an adult he suffered from bi-polar disorder. Of this, he said,"Unfortunately, the disease is also one's material."Our Man in Havana though is a product of the other side of Greene's imagination. It is a humorous suspense novel; a spoof spy story, incorporating two of his favourite themes - espionage and politics. Greene had actually been recruited by MI6 during World War II, and had worked in counter-espionage. Earlier, in 1922, he had been a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. His experience from such times provided much of the inspiration for the characters in Our Man in Havana. In it he pokes fun at the intelligence services, especially the British MI6. Yet the novel also has a darkly philosophic edge, and its conclusion is very bleak.Our Man in Havana was written in 1958, and set in Cuba before the missile crisis of 1962. In some ways the book feels very reminiscent of spy stories dating from World War II, and in others, such as the parts of the plot about missile installations, it seems to anticipate coming events.The tone of the novel is light and droll, occasionally lapsing into outright farce. There is little description; the language is simple and direct to the point of being spare. Graham Greene's realism and lean writing - his readability - is considered to be one of his greatest strengths. One critic has said, "nothing deflects Greene from the main business of holding the reader's attention."The main character in the story is James Wormold, a mild-mannered vacuum salesman who seems oddly isolated in Cuba. He is surrounded by other characters described in high relief, his manipulative Catholic daughter Millie, a political gangster Segura, and his closest friend who is also an isolated enigma, the World War I veteran, Dr. Hasselbache. When the bumbling Wormold, desperate for money to indulge his spendthrift daughter, is approached by Hawthorne, he is at first disbelieving. (view spoiler)[Hawthorne offers him a job working for the British secret service, which Wormold has misgivings about. However he slips into the job, conjuring up whatever seems to be demanded of him, drawing complicated diagram of bits of his vacuum cleaners to represent various missile components, and inventing fictitious contacts. (hide spoiler)]"It astonished Wormold how quickly he could reply to any questions about his characters; they seemed to live on the threshold of consciousness - he had only to turn a light on and there they were, frozen in some characteristic action."As the events unfold, Wormold's descriptions become increasingly elaborate and, to a reader's eye, the scenarios unlikely and farcical, with Wormold himself ruminating on the way his life is proceeding."People similar to himself had done this, men who allowed themselves to be recruited while sitting in lavatories, who opened hotel doors with other men's keys and received instructions in secret ink and in novel uses for Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare. There was always another side to a joke, the side of the victim."(view spoiler)[The willingness of MI6 to believe reports from their local informants becomes more and more astonishing - and more and more deadly. (hide spoiler)]"He had no accomplice except the credulity of other men."Yet in the middle of his humdrum life, real people were becoming the victims, people he knew, people who had been his friends. Life for Wormold was beginning to take on a surreal aspect,"Somebody always leaves a banana-skin on the scene of tragedy."Wormold becomes entangled in a web of his own making, inadvertent as it is. The abstract idea has become the individual - his individual - responsibility. "I don't care a damn about men who are loyal to the people who pay them, to organisations ... I don't think even my country means all that much. There are many countries in our blood, aren't there, but only one person. Would the world be in the mess it is if we were loyal to love and not to countries?"At times like this we can see Greene's underlying message, "If I love or if I hate, let me love or hate as an individual," says Wormold, and the author himself has said,"In human relationships, kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths."The book is a bitter black farce, with an ending as much of a "banana-skin" as any I have ever read, with Wormold partly a puppet, partly a numb automaton, and partly ridiculously incompetent. Depending on your sense of humour, you may find the climax hysterically funny."There's not much difference between the two machines any more than there is between two human beings, one Russian - or German - and one British. There would be no competition and no war if it wasn't for the ambition of a few men in both firms; just a few men dictate competition and invent needs and set Mr Carter and myself at each other's throats."Our Man In Havana was famously filmed by Carol Reed, with Alec Guinness playing the part of Wormold. Many of Graham Greene's novels, plays and short stories have been adapted for film or television. He is perhaps one of the most cinematic of twentieth-century writers; he tells a good yarn, an exciting adventure story. However this one perhaps had more resonance at the time. The themes of an individual against an organised society, of conscience and responsibility; these are timeless, yes. But it could be said that the specific setting now feels rather dated.

  • BillKerwin
    2019-04-16 23:02

    This is one of Graham Greene’s thrillers which he labeled as “entertainments” as a warning to his audience not to take these books seriously. Our Man in Havana definitely needs such a warning. There is no reason to take the book seriously at all.The plot is promising. Havana vacuum cleaner Wormold, owner of an Havana vacuum cleaner shop, hard-pressed to satisfy the expensive tastes (horses, country club) of his beautiful, manipulative (and motherless) teenage daughter, decides—when recruited by MI6—to pad his espionage expense account by inventing agents and mysterious government installations. This works well for him, until the real-life model for one of his imaginary agents is found shot to death. Suddenly, his serviceable fictions have become unfortunately real.The book has other pleasures or virtues in addition to its clever plot.. The Havana atmosphere is vivid, particularly the tawdry parts of the city, the dialogue is witty and diverting, and the climax—in which our hero stalks a killer who has been assigned to kill him—is not without excitement. Many of the scenes are funny, and the way Greene presents his hero as simply another variety of fiction provides opportunity for revealing observations and asides.But an entertainment, however unserious, demands some sense of danger, and whatever dangerousness the first part of the book created for me, the latter part of the book dissipated. Although this is a curious thing to say, I believe the sense of danger began to dissipate as soon as the bodies began to fall.Part of the reason for this is that Our Man in Havana is set in the sunset days of Batita's Cuba. Castro and his rebels were already in the hills (although Greene does not mention this), and one of the characters, Captain Segura, who is known to be one of Batista’s torturers, seeks Wormold’s daughter Milly in marriage. Thus Wormold playing at spies—particularly in this place, at this time—seems like an extraordinarily dangerous thing to do, both for himself and for his daughter. Yet not long after the first “agent” is killed, Greene begins to exploit the situation for romance, laughs, and adventure. It was then I realized that Greene took his plot much less seriously than I did, and I began—little by little—to lose interest in the book.Still, the book was entertaining, with some laughs, some thrills, and an interesting discussion of what are good reasons for engaging in violence (hint: working for Batista or for MI6 are not acceptable choices). All, in all, a good way to spend a couple of hours or so--provided you are willing (at least for brief while) not to take dictatorships, torture, revolution, and murder too seriously.

  • Supratim
    2019-04-05 04:56

    I had come across two lists mentioning the top 100 mystery/crime novels some time back. Both the lists - one by Britain-based Crime Writers' Association and the other by Mystery Writers of America, contained multiple books by Graham Greene. You can find both the lists here Link. The CWA list was published in 1990 and the MWA list in 1995. Pretty long time back but the books included are very fine specimens of crime writing.I had read Greene's The Human Factor long time back and for some reason that book did not impress me much. But this one was simply brilliant!The edition I got from my library contained an introduction by Christopher Hitchens. Reading this introduction I got some insights about the author and how his childhood and beliefs influenced his works. Hitchens also says that John Le Carre had been influenced by Greene.Greene had a victim of bullying in his childhood and this exerted no little influence on his works. His pro-Communist sympathies, dependence on alcohol, his rejection of the notion of patriotism, anti-American sentiments all are present in his books.Hitchens also mentioned Greene's"..... spooky prescience when it came to the suppurating political slums on the periphery of America's Cold War empire."I would suggest that you check out this book and The Quiet American if you want to understand more.Anyways, let us go to the story. The protagonist is Jim Wormold, a vacuum-cleaner saleman whose business is not doing well and whose daughter Milly had a knack of spending his money with a skill that "amazed" Wormold. Our hero is not a forceful character, it seemed to me that he, like the author, had been a victim of bullying- he is gratified when his daughter set a bully on fire and oh yes - his wife has left him for another man as well.Wormold gets an offer to be recruited by a British agent to spy for the British Intelligence and after some initial reluctance he agrees because he needed the money for Milly's education. So he invents a false spy ring and starts feeding rubbish to British Secret Service.There are some other interesting characters as well. Wormold's daughter Milly, Captain Segura and Dr. Hasselbacher. Milly is a good/bad adolescent girl who is a staunch Catholic on one hand and can be a bit of a "tart" on the other.Captain Segura of the Cuban Police is a pretty intimidating character.Dr. Hasselbacher is the person for whom one would feel sympathy. Greene's contempt for the British spy agency has been brilliantly presented throughout the novel - some parts are actually funny if not hilarious.Very soon the little fraud by Wormold escalates in to something dangerous and people start dying. Betrayal, deception, subterfuge, greed, confusion, manipulation - the elements have so nicely used by the author. There is a scene -involving a certain man and his "lady" problems which was actually hilarious.I liked the way how the character of Wormwold evolved - from a harmless man to one who would use subterfuge to outwit Segura and even plan for revenge. This reluctance to know intimate details about the man he is trying to kill so that his intended victim - a killer himself, does not turn into a human being showed his moral scruples even when he was trying to avenge a friend. The scene where Wormwold would try to outwit Segura was wonderful.The book is full of brilliant dialogues and statements. Initially I thought of including some of them, but later I felt I should not spoil your pleasure if you plan to read it someday. In my humble opinion, the writing is excellent.I simply have to recommend this book to fans of John Le Carre's style of thrillers. There are no fancy gadgets, car chases, femme fatales but you get a good story and some fine writing.While reading the blurb of the book I was reminded of The Tailor of Panama by John Le Carre. Later I found articles which stated that Le Carre was indeed influenced by this book. You can refer to the articles by NY Times (Link) and The Guardian (Link) if you are interested.

  • Hadrian
    2019-03-31 00:37

    Who ever knew that Graham Greene could be so funny? This is fine entertainment, although as always influenced by Greene's view on morality and fate. Not that that's bad, because Greene does it so well.This idea about inventing a spy network and going along with the deception reminds me of the story of Agent Garbo during WWII.

  • Sue
    2019-04-02 03:58

    This is a fun read, the story of an accidental spy. Mr Wormold (love that name) sells vacuum cleaners in Havana, not very successfully, until one day he is recruited by a British agent to work for his country while living in that no longer romantic foreign outpost. To be a secret agent! Well--the story takes off from there with a cast of slightly crazy characters: Wormold's religiously manipulative daughter Milly, Captain Segura the head of the local police who has mastered torture, locals of varying nationalities, and multiple members of the spy community. (It is with considered purpose I do not use the term intelligence to describe that community.)This is a great read that is timeless in it's message and story. Enjoy.Edited this morning to reflect my decision that this is a 5 star book.

  • James
    2019-04-24 07:02

    This is the first of Graham Greene’s novels I’ve read that is classed as one of his “entertainments” – so I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. The style, tone and nature of ‘Our Man in Havana’ clearly has a very different feel to his more serious novels (‘Heart of the Matter’, ‘End of the Affair’ et al) and as such is quite distinct from that oeuvre.‘Our Man in Havana’ is very well written as you would expect from Graham Greene and is certainly very entertaining, very funny throughout. The plot is ostensibly based on the farcical premise of an English vacuum cleaner salesman stationed in a pre-revolutionary Havana, being recruited by the British Secret Service, leading to the subsequent ‘reports’ and ‘actions’ that he takes in fulfilling his new espionage role. As such, the story often has very much the feel of a traditional farce to it – albeit an intelligent and very funny one and one contains many elements in it that feel to the reader almost feasible, almost believable!So whilst ‘Our Man in Havana’ is essentially light-hearted and loads of fun, perhaps there are elements in and amongst which do convey a more serious message(s) and allude to more serious themes for our consideration?Whilst maybe not considered as great, as profound, as meaningful nor of the same import as Graham Greene’s ‘serious’ novels – it is clearly not intended to be so. There is however equally a place for the intelligent, witty and well written ‘entertainment’ such as this one, just as much as for the serious novel.This is compelling written and very evocative of a pre-revolutionary Havana. I was lucky enough to visit Havana around 15 years ago now and although faded and in some cases crumbling, the grandeur and uniqueness of Havana, frozen as it is in time since 1959, make it a special, exciting and fascinating place. The Havana described by Greene is still there very much to see albeit, in its 21st Century version.‘Our Man in Havana’ is a very well, very compellingly written novel (Wormold is a great creation) – very funny and in a strange kind of way…almost believable.

  • Werner
    2019-04-19 03:38

    Greene divided his own fiction between the novels and stories he considered more serious, such as The Heart of the Matter, and those he viewed as lighter "entertainments." This relatively short (247 pages --and not all of them with text) novel is one of the latter; and like many of the "entertainments" it draws on the author's World War Ii experiences as a spy for Britain's M-16 intelligence agency. (And it's obvious here that these weren't experiences he looked back on fondly.) Set in pre-Castro Cuba, it also draws on Greene's personal observations from his time in Cuba in 1957, when he was secretly smuggling warm clothing to Castro's rebels in the eastern hills. (He apparently continued to admire Castro until Greene's own death in 1991, though by 1983 he had come to have second thoughts about the Cuban dictator's authoritarianism.) Despite its supposedly "lighter" tone, however, this book does make philosophical statements. It also reflects Greene's status as an ambivalent and not very saintly Catholic, who was particularly disassociated from the Church's teaching on sexual morality because of his numerous extramarital affairs; Catholicism here is mainly represented by the protagonist's teenage daughter, who's outwardly scrupulous about the minutia of religious observance, but very far from modeling responsibility and altruism.Stylistically, this book has certain things in common with the earlier one I cited above (and which is the only other Greene novel I've read). Greene wrote well, in that his prose flows quickly, he tells an attention-holding and often suspenseful story, and that he's insightful regarding human character and interactions when he's trying to be serious. It also has in common with the other book the fact that despite the relatively exotic setting, there's little sense of a physical and cultural setting outside of the transplanted bubble of the expatriate Europeans, and what we observe of the non-European world is primarily sordid; we get the impression that the primary industry of 1957 Havana was prostitution/pornography. (What aspects of an unfamiliar place a foreign observer actually observes, of course, may tell us more about the observer than about the place itself.) Afro-Cubans are twice designated, by sympathetic characters, with the n-word (one usage slaps you over the head as the very second word in the first sentence), a term that appears in the older book as well. But this book differs in that it often tries for a tone of satirical humor in places; too often, it tries too hard, making the dialogue ridiculous and the characters and situations unrealistic caricatures, and the juxtaposition of the serious and the satirically humorous doesn't always gel.Greene's main philosophical message here seems to be that any loyalty higher than that to family and friends --particularly, any abstract loyalty such as patriotism or support for a social principle-- is misguided and misplaced. To be sure, loyalty to human beings we love will naturally, for most of us, take precedence over loyalty to abstractions; and when it comes to guiding our actions, moral principle must always trump political or social agendas. (It should also trump family interests --swindling a bureaucracy out of money doesn't become moral if we're doing it for a son or daughter, though Greene here may come close to suggesting that it does.) But the wall-to-wall cynicism of Greene's view of the Cold War, as purely a struggle for power between morally equivalent shady rivals, which decent people would be better off to ignore, doesn't ultimately convince this reader. (And I lived through much of the Cold War period, being born in 1952.) In the broader landscape of espionage fiction, Greene's worldview is much like le Carre's in The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (though the latter book is a lot more serious), rather than, say, Manning Coles.' But in hindsight, most people in the captive populations behind the Iron Curtain might well have had a perspective more similar to Coles' (while not canonizing M-16 and the CIA).

  • Russ Melrose
    2019-04-24 07:00

    I thoroughly enjoyed this Graham Greene novel. What a treat! It's a cold war spy novel taking place in the late '50s in Havana (pre-Castro). The protagonist, Wormold, is a peddler of vacuum cleaners who is asked to spy for MI6. Of course, Wormold is about the worst candidate you could possibly find to be a spy. But he takes the job anyway, mainly so he can dote financially on his teenage daughter, Milly. Our Man in Havana is a humorous satire on the the cold war spy era. Greene especially takes aim at the inept bureaucracy behind the British spy service. And he riddles his target with bullseye after bullseye. Feeling the need to make reports back to London, Wormold begins to fabricate reports. He also begins to hire imaginary agents to support him in his growing spy network.But what really drew me into Greene's novel were the well-drawn characters. Wormold himself; his best friend and drinking buddy, Dr. Hasselbacher; his daughter Milly who flips back and forth between religious fervency and a dangerous dalliance with police Captain Segura (nicknamed the Red Vulture); the dangerous Captain Segura, who has a reputation for torture and who carries a wallet made of human flesh; Beatrice, Wormold's sharp new MI6 secretary; along with a host of other supporting characters.If you enjoy a well-written novel with interesting characters, humorous situations, a touch of romance, and even a few thrilling moments toward its end, then you might give Our Man in Havana a look-see. I certainly recommend it.

  • Νατάσσα
    2019-04-05 05:49

    Greene. Εξαιρετικός και -επιπλέον- διασκεδαστικός. Μου άρεσε πολύ, θα έβαζα 4,5/5 αν είχε μισά :-)

  • Grace Tjan
    2019-04-13 23:45

    spoilers!Uncorrected Transcript of Oral EvidenceTaken before the Intelligence and Security Committee Tuesday 15 July 1958Members present:Mr. Paul Anderson, in the ChairMr. Jonathan BlakeleyMr. Richard Cunningham QCWitnesses: MR. JAMES WORMOLD, O.B.E., former SIS operative in Havana, Cuba, 1955-1957; and MRS. BEATRICE WORMOLD (NEE SEVERN), formerly a secretary at the SIS headquarters.Q1 Chairman: Mr. and Mrs. Wormold, may I welcome you to this hearing, which purpose is to examine the veracity of the contents of Dossier No. 1801 dated 24 October 1957 (hereinafter referred to as the Dossier), issued by the SIS or otherwise popularly known as the MI6. This Committee hopes that both of you will be able to shed light on certain events described in the Dossier, which have been challenged by other sources. Everything that transpires in this hearing shall be treated as a matter of national security and be held in the strictest confidence. Let me start with the first question: Mr. Wormold, is it true that you were recruited by an SIS agent, who went under the name of Hawthorne, in Havana during the winter of 1955?Mr. Wormold: It is true, sir.Q2 Chairman: Please describe the recruitment process.Mr. Wormold: I was drinking with my old friend Dr. Hassellbacher at Sloppy Joe’s. Agent Hawthorne was there. He corralled me into the Gents and suggested to me that I should join the Secret Service.Q3 Chairman: Any particular reason why the deed was done in the Gents?Mr. Wormold: Uh --- I don’t know, sir. He said that it’s more secure in case anyone barged in. He kept the tap running while speaking to me, to confuse the mike, he said. I said I didn’t want the job, but he insisted. Then he shoved me into a closet and walked away.Q4 Mr. Cunningham: Did he give you any reason for your recruitment?Mr. Wormold: Yes, sir. He said that I was a patriotic Englishman who had been living in Havana for years, besides being a respected member of the European Traders Association. He also said that they must have their man in Havana, and that submarines need fuel and dictators drift together. I didn’t quite catch his drift then, sir.Q5 Mr. Cunningham: What kind of business did you run in Havana, Mr. Wormold?Mr. Wormold: I ran a vacuum cleaner shop, sir. We carry the finest, most modern machines such as the Atomic Pile Suction Cleaner, the Midget Make-Easy Air Powered Suction Small Home Cleaner and the Turbo, which is the no. 1 brand in Cuba for four years running. We are Phastkleaners’ sole agent for the whole of Cuba.Q6 Mr. Blakeley: The Dossier describes you as a “well-connected merchant king with a substantial machinery importing business.” How many persons were employed in your business, Mr. Wormold?Mr. Wormold: One, sir. It was just a small store.Mr. Blakeley: Interesting. The Dossier also describes you as “stable”, and “uninterested in women.”Mrs. Wormold: (snickers)Chairman: Mrs. Wormold, we respectfully ask you not to speak until requested to do so.Q6 Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Wormold, you initially refused the job, why did you change your mind?Mr. Wormold: It was because of my daughter, Milly. She was just sixteen at that time. Convent schoolgirl, very good girl. She wanted to buy a horse and rode in the Country Club. The horse alone costed 300 pounds, sir, and the Country Club was even more expensive. Not to say of the bridles, saddles and riding lessons. And I wanted to have enough money to retire in England and take her with me. There was this native person called Capt. Segura who had designs on her.Q7 Mr. Blakeley: Isn’t he the head of police in Vedado?Mr. Wormold: The one and the same. Do you know what people in Havana call him, sir? The Red Vulture. He tortured prisoners. He had a wallet made of human skin. This person wanted to marry my daughter. You see, I had to get her out of Cuba. Pronto! Mrs. Wormold: He is such a good father!Chairman:: Mrs. Wormold ---Mrs. Wormold: Not to speak until spoken to. Understood.Q8 Mr. Cunningham: The Dossier records that you received a lump sum payment of 1,000 pounds in April 1956. Could you confirm what the funds were used for?Mr. Wormold: To join the Country Club and recruit several sub-agents.Q9 Mr. Cunningham: Engineer Cifuentes, Professor Luis Sanchez and Lopez. Who’s Lopez?Mr. Wormold: My employee at the store. He wanted an additional 25 pesos per month. The other two names were from the Country Club’s roster. I had to justify the payments.Q 10 Mr. Cunningham: I see. And the transfer of 1,500 dollars in June 1956 was for what purpose?Mr. Wormold: To procure intelligence reports and drawings of the secret military installations in the mountains of Oriente Province.Chairman: These are the drawings, gentlemen. According to the Dossier, these depict the parts of a massive weapon of mass destruction, very possibly nuclear.Mrs. Wormold: Actually, those were the drawings of the parts of the Atomic Pile Suction vacuum cleaner.Q11 Chairman: Is that true, Mr. Wormold?Mr. Wormold: Uh yes, sir. Q12 Chairman: Who made them, Mr. Wormold?Mr. Wormold: I did, sir. I took the Atomic Pile apart and drew the parts. Then I altered the scale to make them seem gigantic.Mr. Blakeley: He had even drew a little man with a bowler hat next to the drawings --- see?Chairman: How did these absurd drawings got through the experts at the SIS? Mr. Blakeley: To be fair, this particular drawing here does look like some kind of a massive cannon bore.Mrs. Wormold: It’s a drawing of the Atomic Pile’s nozzle. I love it that Jim could be so devious!Q13 Chairman: Since you seem to be exceedingly eager to speak, Mrs. Wormold, let’s commence with your part. Who sent you to Havana?Mrs. Wormold: Miss Jenkinson, sir. The head of the secretarial pool at the SIS HQ. Agent Hawthorne specifically requested a Spanish-speaking secretary for the assignment.Q14 Chairman: Did you speak Spanish? Did you have any other abilities that might have been useful there?Mrs. Wormold: No Spanish, but I’m half French. At the SIS, they think that all Latin tongues are the same anyway. I could encode and do microphotography. I also have a good knowledge of electrodynamics.Q15 Mr. Blakeley: What’s that?Mrs. Wormold: Let’s just say that if you have any trouble with your fuse box at home, you can give me a call.Mr. Blakeley: Er --- all right.Q16 Mr. Cunningham: What happened when you arrived in Havana? Did Mr. Wormold’s activities as an agent seemed suspicious to you from the start? Mrs. Wormold: We first met at the Copacabana --- it was so romantic --- all those palm trees, the Parisian songs, the cabaret…Chairman: Please answer Mr. Cunningham’s questions, Mrs. Wormold.Mrs. Wormold: Where were we? Oh yes, I was not suspicious at first. I thought that he was kind of bumbling, but what a sweet man! And then someone shot at Cifuentes and everything started to unravel. He took me to the Shanghai Theater to warn Teresa ---Mr. Blakeley: One of the alleged sub-agents, a “nude dancer who is the mistress of both the Minister of Mines and the Director of Post & Telegraph.”Mrs. Wormold: That’s the girl. We got her into Jim’s car and we rode to Professor Sanchez’s house to warn him too ---Q17 Mr. Blakeley: Is this the incident described in the police report attached to the Dossier, in which Mr. Wormold was arrested for driving around with a naked girl and breaking into Professor Sanchez’s home?Mrs. Wormold: Yes. It was quite funny, actually. It was a total farce. I wished that he had just told me, though. No need for all that merry go round --- right, darling?Mr. Blakeley: Apparently, there were other murky incidents after that --- it’s rather difficult to understand what actually happened from the Dossier. But at the end Mr. Wormold successfully eliminated several suspected enemy operatives while providing us with an invaluable list of foreign agents. Mr. Cunningham: May I point out that Mr. Wormold could not be charged under the Official Secrets Act as he hadn’t actually given any secrets away? He invented secrets, and such an act is not covered by the OSA.Chairman: I think that I can speak for this Committee --- on the balance, Mr. and Mrs. Wormold’s actions had brought us more benefits than disadvantages, although it must be said that we have some concerns about the sheer amount of invention that was involved. But such is the nature of intelligence work. It is in our national interest that we concur with the conclusion of the SIS’ internal inquiry: Mr. Wormold deserves his O.B.E., and Mrs. Wormold does not deserve to be sent to Jakarta. Mr. Blakeley and Mr. Cunningham: We agree.Mr. Wormold: May I say something, sir?Chairman: Certainly, Mr. Wormold.Mr. Wormold: This is the lesson that I’ve learned from all of this. The cruel come and go like cities and thrones and powers. They have no permanence. But the clown whom I had seen last year with my daughter at the circus --- that clown is permanent, for his act never change.That is the way to live: the clown is unaffected by the vagaries of public and the enormous discoveries of the great.Chairman: Umm, yes. Quite an interesting sentiment. Is that all?Mr. Wormold: One more: thou shalt not invent a weapon of mass destruction where there is none. Chairman: I agree. May I thank you on behalf of the Committee? You both have been most helpful.End of Transcript

  • David
    2019-04-26 05:40

    Graham Greene always amazed me as he wrote about topical subjects before they became topical.It's a funny thing. I read this book several decades ago along with all the other Graham Greene books (the Paul Hogarth illustrated covers series by Penguin). Then last week a local theatre company put on this play so I couldn't resist. To be honest I vaguely remembered this story. At times I thought it seemed a little dated (now it's a period piece) but the mixture of black humour and Greene's plot line lived up to its category - an entertainment.The funny thing is that it is all about fake news. Set in 1958 Havana, a vacuum salesman is offered to work as an MI6 spy for the British. Why? Wormold needs the money - his daughter is turning 17 and the expenses are growing. The British wanted to keep tabs on the communist rebels and establish a spy base in the Caribbean. Throw in Wormold's German friend Dr. Hasselbacher (which side is he on, East or West?), Beatrice, a secretary for the love interest, Lopez, a dry-humour local who works in the vacuum shop and Captain Segura, the terrifying police officer who wants to marry Wormold's daughter and the entertainment factor is set.To create the scam, Dr. Hasselbacher suggests that he just make up the stories to get payment from MI6. No one gets hurt and you get some extra cash. This sounds easy except when one of his fictitious characters actually dies, the scam begins to unravel and Wormold digs himself deeper. Graham Greene is all about timing. Our Man in Havana came out just months before the Cuban Revolution started. The political intrigue is always there. Greene plays down the middle, not choosing sides. It is an entertainment, so it doesn't get too deep, too dark at times and you won't walk away enlightened. The play was fun; the book was enjoyable. Kudos to the playwright, because he lifted the script to a tee. One of the most memorable scenes is the checkers game between Captain Segura and Wormold, played with mini bottles of Scotch and Bourbon. Winner gets to drink the other's. And we know where this is going! Just pure pandemonium.So good to read once again.Originally read May 1984.

  • Panagiotis
    2019-04-08 00:44

    Ο Γκράχαμ Γκριν, λέει, κατηγοριοποιούσε τις ιστορίες του σε καθαρά λογοτεχνιάζουσες και σε ψυχαγωγικές. Δεν ξέρω για αυτόν τον διαχωρισμό, ξέρω όμως το εξής: βρίθει λογοτεχνικότητας, καυστικότητας, απολαυστικών διαλόγων. Έχει χιούμορ ίσως παραπάνω από άλλες του ιστορίες, μα αυτό αποτελεί ένα κοινό γνώρισμά της γραφής του. Ίσως έχει και παραπάνω δράση, αν και δεν είναι πτυχή άγνωστη στα βιβλία του - απεναντίας. Ίσως το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο κάποιος να το χαρακτήριζε φάρσα. Πάντως είναι ένα εξαιρετικό μυθιστόρημα, τρομακτικά προφητικό. Γραμμένο ένα μόλις χρόνο πριν ανέβει στην εξουσία ο Κάστρο, αποτελεί μια γκάφα ολκής, καθώς ο απεγνωσμένος πωλητής ηλεκτρικών σκουπών Γουόρμολντ δέχεται να γίνει κατάσκοπος της ΜΙ6, μόνο για τις απολαβές που θα τον βοηθήσουν να ικανοποιεί τα καπρίτσια της κόρης του. Από εκεί και πέρα ξεκινάει μια ιστορία που ποτέ δεν αποκλίνει σε φτηνές υπερβολές καταφέρνοντας να είναι πάντα έξυπνη, απρόβλεπτη, απίστευτα αστεία, απολαυστικά σκερτσόζα και εμβριθής.Η Κούβα, η κατασκοπεία, το καθεστώς προ της -προφητικής- κατάρρευσής του, το κλίμα, τα κτίρια - όλα ζωντανεύουν μπροστά στα μάτια του αναγνώστη. Μιλάμε για ανάγνωσμα με όλη την έννοια της λέξης. Το ανοίγεις, ξεκινάς στην πρώτη σελίδα και δεν μπορείς να καταλάβεις για πότε βρέθηκες στην τελευταία.Καλή ανάγνωση!

  • Alex
    2019-04-01 03:03

    Even though this is one of Graham Greene's "entertainments", it is his own real employment with MI6 during WW2 that adds layers to this otherwise light hearted satire on the British Secret Service. Here Greene has written a story of a British citizen (Wormold) living in Havana in the early 1950s during the Batista regime. He is a dour middle aged vacuum cleaner salesman with a bombshell 16 year old daughter, Milly, whose burgeoning sexuality is at odds with her Catholic morality: something she has inherited from her mother who has run off with another man. Wormold is described by his daughter as a pagan. Milly is a high maintenance "princess", her demands on his finances makes an offer from Hawthorne of MI6 to become an "agent" irresistible. Soon Wormold is creating a complex yet hilarious series of reports for London of spy activities with fictional characters and drawings of vacuum cleaner attachments being passed off as sophisticated Russian atomic weaponry.It all starts to unravel when the fiction of his reports become a reality, with real versions of fictional characters being killed in mysterious circumstances. This is satire at its finest. Greene highlights beautifully the hypocrisy and deception of the spy "industry", given greater credence by virtue of Greene's own background in this life. Just as he foresaw the Americanisation of the Vietnam conflict in his classic, The Quiet American, here there are hints (this book was written in 1958) of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. This is a brilliant piece of work and I recommend it to anyone with a love of humorous, satirical spy tales with depth and a sense of history.

  • Tripp
    2019-04-02 00:42

    Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana is a delightful farce that manages to be serious and laugh out loud funny at the same time. It follows the unfortunate Wormold, a British vacuum cleaner salesman in Havana whose shortage of funds finds him willing to accept an offer to join the British Intelligence Service. As a generally inept and careless person, he can do any actual spying, so he ends up sending fake reports back to London so that he can use his expense fund to pay for his daughter's many expensive needs. It all goes swimmingly until his reports begin to create crises.The book reads as a humorous novel. The spy characters are nearly all idiotic buffoons who can't see Wormold's creations for the poorly assembled tales they are. There is intrigue all around Wormold who is incapable of seeing it correctly. There is also plenty of domestic farce as his daughter leads him into a series of misfortunes.The book can be read just as humor, but Greene has more to say than that. On the personal level, Wormold is the sort of weak person who takes the wrong path because it is easy and available. Most (if not all) of the tragedy in the book is a result of his careless approach to life. What's more, despite being a spy story, it's message is that the intelligence world is a world filled with fools whose damage far outweigh any benefit they provide. At the end of the book, a few characters explicitly reject the Cold War, but the book is an implicit rejection of the conflicts that grind up individuals for some higher purpose.

  • Calzean
    2019-04-21 23:55

    I had read this book many years ago and remember it as a farcical lampoon. But I had not remembered it was such a sophisticated piece of writing. Catholicism, anti-American, criticism of England's treatment of it's Empire, the arrogance of the English class system, and a clarity as to what drove the cold war along were all covered. Greene also included lots of whisky, drinking and bars.The characters were great. The mundane, underachieving vacuum seller Wormold, his half-nun/half-vixen daughter, the bumbling spy master Hawthorne, an even more bumbling assassin Carter, the menacing Captain Segura, the whisky loving Hasselbacher and a cast of supporting characters.

  • John Farebrother
    2019-04-23 23:49

    A brilliant, hilarious read of espionage and pompous civil servants who are so inept they're not fit to run a chip shop. Perhaps not so funny if you've worked for the civil service and you realise that the story is entirely feasible. Uncannily reminiscent of The Tailor of Panama. A spymaster and an expat on the ground in Cuba manage to concoct between them, but entirely without each other's knowledge, a fantasy international plot, which allows the "source" to receive generous ex-gratis payments, and the spy to convince his masters in the UK that he is doing something useful, and worth a generous budget. The joke wears off when people start to get killed; but they've started so they have to finish. Is that what happened in East Timor? Quickly everyone moved on before anyone noticed what had happened, and at least the Australian PM got a successful war to add to his CV, not to mention access to gas fields on the continental shelf.

  • Jeremy
    2019-04-01 05:54

    ’It seems worthwhile being blind in this sun.’Our Man and Captain Segura—the Red Vulture, the Cuban police torturer with a cigarette lighter covered in human skin—get together and play checkers regularly; and, regularly enough, ‘huffing’ came into play. I’m not a checkers or draughts player; I had to look it up.In almost all the variations of the game of checkers, a player is required to make a jump or a capture if such a move is available. There are certain variations of the game however where huffing is allowed. Huffing is defined as the action of removing from the checker board one of your opponent’s checkers piece that could have jumped or captured one of your own pieces but which the opposing player chose not to execute the jump with or simply missed the opportunity. In these situations, the offending checkers piece is “blown” or “huffed” at the beginning of the players next turn. He or she then will take a turn to move as normal.http://www.checkerslounge.com/huffing...It’s sometimes offered up as a gift ... particularly in the bizarre style of game they play together for the last time. Inaction can be as strategic as action, even if there is a cost to inaction ... and maybe particularly if there is a cost... And, of course, there’s plenty of this going on in Greene’s fantastic farce-literature, humorous-thriller, entertainment-thinker of a novel. The plot is playful and ridiculous, but......—a contradiction had a flavour of authenticity).And therein lies so much of its charm, coupled with Greene’s absolute prowess with the language of English. This, I could go on about for enough time alone, but I’ll limit myself to just this sentence, and how it sticks its two upraised English fingers at the terror of mixing symbolism:A grey stone statue of Columbus stood outside the Cathedral and looked as though it had been formed through the centuries under water, like a coral reef, by the action of insects.This was just one of the few sentences that I reread a few times just for its own pleasure. It’s such a beautiful rendering of a description, and I can see the thing so clearly, and it so perfectly made itself that at that moment, for Our Man, and me.The postmodern meta-fictional aspect of the story is something I’d like to spend a few words on. It bends itself in and out of the story, sometimes overtly sometimes less so, but it’s always there. It’s Doctor Hasselbacher (in a state of jovial inebriation, one must add) who gives Our Man the idea of fictionalising his secret-agency, and justifies scamming the State for the money as a kind of redistribution of the wealth they have taken from those they have taken it from. These things could be debated, but where Hasselbacher certainly puts his foot wrong is when he tells him:’But remember, as long as you lie you do no harm.’Harm does come. But is it due to a crosswire of genres: fiction and non-fiction? ’You talk like a novelist,’ she said.Or is it the manner of belief that makes the difference, a kind of epistemology of distrust and holding-back that feeds in on itself, and becomes a variety of credulity that’s generically bomb-proof?’Now if my friend, Mr Wormald here, had invented you, you would have been a happier man. He would have given you an Oxford education, a name like Pennyfeather...’Our Man becomes the novelist of the story of Their Man. And he enjoys it. He finds it liberating ... for a while, at least. His capacities for invention surprise him. But he doesn’t become too confused; a fictional death is still different to a real one, just burning a photograph isn’t the same as killing someone. It’s the battle he has become a pawn in that sees no difference. Narrative death is death. Our Man comes through the whole experience stronger in his objective associations, whereas the agents of the States around him remain the same. Captain Segura, for all the gross immoral ends, is strangely more human than them. ’They haven’t left us much to believe in, have they?—even disbelieve.’(Question mark, em dash?—Greene is a fearless grammatical stylist too...)‘They’ being the post-war States, but also society at large too. Written in 1958, we’re on the cusp of the great filling-in of beliefs that the 60s will make for us, a giant formidable daiquiri that Our Man would have a tough time swallowing. There’s so much to believe in now, UNESCO is old hat ... just open up a Twitter account. Save a whale. Follow a snarky gender-jihadist on Facebook. The filling in of the wasteland might be more terrifying that the wasteland itself, bang, bang, bang, whimper dot org. The cautionary aspect of the tale is one of tale-telling, and where it leads, not matter what the intentions, good, bad, indifferent, intolerant, intolerant of intolerance, demanding, effacing. ’It’s one of those ghastly lives, isn’t it? Like UNESCO and modern writers in conference?’Instead of vacuum cleaners, it’s suggested that Our Man, Wormald, might open up a joke shop at the end of the novel.But the clown ... was permanent, for his act never changed.

  • Emma
    2019-04-25 02:45

    This didn't really appeal to me much. It was meant to be comedic in tone and I suppose I found it slightly so. It is Graham Greene taking a shot at the world of British Intelligence in pre-Castro Cuba. Most reviewers seemed to like this so I think the problem is mine rather than the book's!

  • Julie Christine
    2019-04-05 01:47

    This farce holds the same canny and clever delight as the Pink Panther, Dr. Strangelove and The Comedy of Errors, with dialogue and pacing to which David Mamet is clearly indebted. I could almost see the smoke from Graham Greene's typewriter keys swirling in the air as he tore through sheets of erasable bond, churning out this crazy, wonderful and utterly a propos satire of spies.It's the mid 1950's when we meet our man, Jim Wormold, a milquetoast British expatriate who moved to Havana prior to World War II, having escaped military service due to his bum leg. He is a sad sack salesman of vacuum cleaners, abandoned by the mother of his blossoming 17 yr old daughter, Milly, who is part sainted Madonna, part bombshell Marilyn. Wormold is inexplicably recruited as a spy by MI6- the British Secret Service- in a fabulous men's room encounter with scene stealer and smooth operator, Hawthorne (a.k.a 59200). Wormold marvels that he has been entrusted to spy- he has few contacts, fewer friends, is apolitical to the point of apathy, and bumbles awkwardly through his dull and lonely life. He is also broke and has a daughter whose demands score his guilty heart. This brief tale chronicles Wormold's adventures as a spy; ironically, he creates a network of sub-agents, unleashes a series of events that rock the intelligence world, and manages to build up his bank account with a tidy sum in the process. The butts of the joke are the British Secret Service and the cult of pop culture espionage. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments- I won't spoil by sharing- but this was a delicious read. It's not all fun and games, however; Greene may have intended a light-hearted comedy, but he reveals critical and extremely prescient observations about Cuba and the coming revolution and about the Cold War hysteria that damaged reputations and even destroyed the lives of innocent people who were identified as Communists or communist sympathizers. In light of the manipulation of military intelligence that led to the invasion of Iraq, his satire remains alive and relevant to this day. It is a true gift that a writer so associated with heavier themes of religious ambivalence, imperialism, and the universality of suffering, could toss those themes back with a wink and a giggle and wonderful readability.

  • Daniel
    2019-04-25 02:44

    Given the supposed military intelligence that led to the war in Iraq, it's tempting to look to books such as "Our Man in Havana," Graham Greene's comic spy novel about the Cold War, for parallels to our current situation. (In the book, drawings of pieces of a household vacuum cleaner are passed off as schematics for sophisticated weaponry.) Rather than there being any direct correlation, however, it brings more to mind that quote sometimes attributed to Mark Twain about how history may not repeat itself, but it rhymes.On a lighter note, it might be fun to someday recreate the chess game played in "Our Man" that pits miniature Scotch bottles against miniature bourbon bottles, with captured pieces being consumed by the player doing the capturing. As such, the superior player becomes drunk faster than his inferior opponent -- unless, of course, he purposely gives up pieces. It's one of the more humorous scenes in the book.

  • Judy
    2019-04-17 22:40

    I LOVE this book! It reminds me of a Wodehouse with smarter characters, but with similar dry British humor and hilarious anecdotes. The sauciness of teenage saint Millie, her too-old-for-a-suitor torturing policeman who knows everything that goes on in Havana (and probably Cuba), her father, Wormold, who is "our man in Havana", not to mention his secretary and agents, provided me with belly laughs, snickers and guffaws aplenty. Wormold ekes by as a vacuum cleaner dealer until approached by a Secret Service agent and pushed into becoming an agent for the British Secret Service. The reluctant Wormold from then on must find fodder for reports and the fun begins.This book introduced me to Grahame Greene's writing and based on the pure pleasure of listening to this story on audiobook, it will not be my last book authored by Greene.

  • Teresa
    2019-04-24 22:55

    A well-written, perfectly plotted, political, prescient "entertainment" that, while reading, I didn't feel at all the implausibility of the recruitment by the British Secret Service of a vacuum-cleaner salesman living in Cuba or that of the courting of his Catholic teenage daughter by a Cuban policeman/enforcer. The humor in the dialogue and elsewhere is dry and funny in a-wink-and-a-nod kind of way. I had disliked the similes in the otherwise-wonderful The Human Factor, which I'd found awkward, but here they are perfect. The only criticism I have is of the ending, which seemed just a bit too 'twee.' (Though I'm not British, it's the perfect word to use.) Despite that critique, though, one of the strengths of this story is the heart that's behind it.

  • Jan-Maat
    2019-03-27 01:05

    When I was a youngster I read alot of Graham Greene. This one feels to me to be less typical, Catholicism isn't such a feature and guilt isn't quite such an overwhelming presence as in some of his other novels. By contrast this is fairly light.It's an enjoyable read and there's a value that still seems fairly relevent in it's message of being mindful of the potential sources of intelligence information.

  • Steve
    2019-04-24 23:53

    Not a bad book by any means, but the 150-page set-up seemed to be really excessive when compared to the 50-page climax. Overall, it was a clever, humorous take on the ultra-serious world of international espionage. I don't say this very often (ever?), but I think this book would have worked better as a short story.

  • umberto
    2019-04-15 23:50

    A 3.5 star book.For this title I have once kept a paperback hoping to read enjoyably but, for some reasons, I simply could not have a go after some ten pages thinking it was not my type, I mean the genre involving espionage or secret service (I don't think 'spy fiction' suggests anything positive, rather it reveals inevitable betrayal, high treason and digital sabotage in the 21st century). However, I have recently resolved to pick up his "The Confidential Agent" and happily made it as the second Greene novel after his more famously acclaimed "The Power and the Glory" in which its extract my classmates and I were assigned to read and study some 50 years ago as mentioned in my GR review. So this is my third Greene fiction reading, in fact, his books I read included "A Sort of Life" many years ago and a few weeks ago, "Ways of Escape." It happened around early this month when I came across this Vintage paperback at the DASA BookCafe and swiftly I decided to have it as part of trade-in exchange since its handsome volume with readable fonts impressed me, in other words, it simply enticed me to have a look and read the whole story. I thought OK, it's better late than never because of my decision to leave my unread former copy at the BookCafe some months ago.One good point of this edition is that it has a 16-page introduction (in which, I think, should be of help as essential background to those newcomers) by Christopher Hitchens written in 2006. I think first of all we need faith before we try doing something we are reluctant/not sure if we can keep going till the end. First, I always found reading its synopsis (back cover) encouragingly helpful, then a few brief recommendations nearby, for instance: 'As comical, satirical, atmospherical an "entertainment" as he has given us'Daily TelegraphTherefore, we should treat this book as a seeming entertainment encapsulating the three key words, that is, those related settings, characters, structures, and so on would eventually develop in the dialog/narrations which includeA) Funny Passages:'Oh, are you married?' Milly asked with phony curiosity.'I was married.''Is he dead?''Not that I know of. He sort of faded away.'... (p. 96)With his hand on the door Carter paused again. He said, 'Perhaps it would be more sensible - some other night. You know, I h-h-h-h ... ''You are frightened, Carter.''I've never been to a h-h-h-house before. To tell you the truth, Wormold, I don't h-have much need of women.'... ( p. 207) etc.B) Mocking Ones:... He said, 'I thought I was doing you a favour by coming to warn you, but it looks as if death for you might be the best solution.''You are a very mystifying young man.''Not young. It's you, Professor, who are young by the look of things.' In his anxiety he spoke aloud, 'If only Beatrice were here.'... ( p. 136)... Somebody must have brought influence to bear on Dr Brown, somebody who had to be identified at any cost. He thought, I am the cost.'I bet you'll be a sensation.''I'm trying hard not to be a sensation at this lunch.'... ( p. 170) etc.C) Some Producing Feelings of Mysterious Strangeness:Wormold drank his daiquiri too fast and left the Havana Club with his eyes aching. ... ( p. 157)... Suddenly he felt happy. He might have killed a man. He had proved conclusively to himself that he wasn't one of the judges; he had no vocation for violence. Then Carter fired.(p. 209) etc.First published in 1958, this novel might have been categorized as a common agent working like other people in other professions; eventually, 20 years later his "The Human Factor" (Everyman's Library, 1992) was published depicting some agents working in the British Intelligence Agency amid the Cold War and for some reasons the key protagonist (Castle) has to defect and escape to the USSR.In brief, this novel is worth spending our time if we like Greene and don't mind following his narration, dialogs, words or phrases, etc. However, we couldn't expect sensational thrills like those by Ian Fleming in his James Bond series.

  • Cbj
    2019-03-30 23:47

    ***SPOILERS ALERT***Our Man in Havana is a satirical spy novel set in Havana during the cold war. British influence over the rest of the world is on the wane. An alcoholic British expatriate Jim Wormold - who owns a shop that sells vacuum cleaners is hired by a British intelligence agency as their man (spy) in Havana. Wormold is a lot like Henry Scobie in Greene's The Heart of the Matter. He is a middle aged man who does not know what he is to do with the rest of his life. How will he go on? How will he fund the exorbitant lifestyle of his Catholic daughter Milly? He drifts through life, drinking daiquiris with another dejected British expatriate Dr. Hasselbacher at Havana's numerous bars. But when he is assigned the job of a spy by Hawthorne (the British intelligence agent who arrives as a customer at Wormold's shop), there is something to do. He begins to make money. He makes up fake events and people in his dispatches to the intelligence agency. But then his dispatches begin to come true. I think Wormold and Hasselbacher represent post-war Britain - tired and without any motive or passion to go on, conceding hegemony to America. But I doubt whether Greene was a patriot. His attitude could be reflected in these lines by Wormold - “I don't care a damn about men who are loyal to the people who pay them, to organizations...I don't think even my country means all that much. There are many countries in our blood, aren't there, but only one person. Would the world be in the mess it is if we were loyal to love and not to countries?” Our Man in Havana is filled with poignant similes and comedic set pieces. But one setpiece where a rival agent tried to poison Wormold at a trade meeting does not really work. The book's second half does not really measure upto its first half. The sheer absurdity of the intelligence agencies activities is captured perfectly by Greene especially in the scenes towards the end where Wormold is bestowed with a teaching post at the agency despite him running circles around them. While this book is classified as one of Greene's entertainments, Wormold's predicament is quite depressing. It is a predicament that most of us would have faced at some point in our lives - especially the middle aged. What are we to do with our lives? How are we to go on in this modern world? I recently watched Trainspotting 2 and the middle aged Mark Renton who has just had a heart surgery has the same question - "They told me I am going to be allright for the next thirty years but what they did not tell me was what I'm supposed to do with those thirty years."

  • Gill
    2019-04-20 03:03

    I thought this was excellent until the final chapter and epilogue. I felt that Greene wasn't sure about how to finish off the story.

  • Jamie
    2019-04-23 00:54

    This would have earned higher marks from me— four, even five stars— if Greene had liked his story half as much as I did. It’s all there— fake spies, that line between fiction and reality, absurdity and inane bureaucracy and humanity— but he doesn’t write like there’s much joy in it for him. I could be wrong. It’s just the feeling I got from it, after all, anyway. The thought that, had he attacked this with relish instead of obligation, man, what a story.

  • Jason
    2019-04-04 06:50

    Not too bad, a bit slapsticky at times and Wormolds antics had me chuckling at times. My main issue with the book is how vague the author was with Wormold and Beatrice's relationship, felt a bit lazy he just sorts of throws them together and you are expected to accept them.First Graham Greene book for me and I enjoyed it, looking forward to reading more of his stuff.

  • Darwin8u
    2019-04-16 01:38

    I love Greene's humor, philosophy, and moral absurdities. Not a perfect novel, but advanced and amazing in many many parts. Probably exactly in the middle stuck between five and four stars. Not as good a book as _The Heart of the Matter_, _The Quiet American_, or even _Power & the Glory_, but probably a more purely enjoyable novel than any of the those.