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Brighton Rock - Graham Greene

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Author: Graham Greene / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 07 October 2004 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Vintage / Title: Brighton Rock / ISBN 13: 9780099478478 / ISBN 10: 0099478478

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      22.10.2007 12:02
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      Brighton Races Gang leader Pinkie discovers every action has a reaction

      Author: Graham Greene
      Genre: Fiction
      Date of Publish:
      Number of Pages:
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      What’s is all about?
      ***********************
      Pinkie Brown, the anti hero protaganist of the book is a teenager and rising gangster after betraying the former gang leader in a foolish bid to gain control. Some have said he was a sociopath. Fred Hale, in Brighton working for a newspaper competition is Pinkie’s next target and he knows it. That day, on the piers, Fred is murdered and only one person, Ida Arnold can ensure justice is served when the death is ruled as a suicide.

      What follows is the story of Pinkie’s attempts to cover his tracks and the lengths he will go to in order to ensure his freedom and control over Brighton in the wake of his predecessor’s rule. The journey he makes includes a string of further violent crimes, a struggle with faith, paranoia and even Pinkie’s unexpected marriage, but is his downfall unavoidable?


      Who is Graham Greene?
      ****************************
      Graham Greene, 87 when he died in 1991 was one of England’s great writers, accomplished not only in massively successful novels such as Hear of the Matter and the End of the Affair and Brighton Rock, but also as a playwright and Journalist, even spending some time as a respected critic.

      A keen traveller, Greene spent as much time as possible touring Europe and later further a field, however, his youth was plagued with depression, accumulating in several suicide attempts and eventually extensive psychoanalysis. Interestingly, Greene claims many of his suicide attempts were made by playing Russian Roulette, however this has been widely disputed by those who knew him.

      It is thought by fans of Greene that although considered, he repeatedly lost out on the Nobel Prize for Literature because of his repeated use of religion as a key them in his work.

      What did I make of it?
      *************************
      I first read Brighton Rock, published in 1938, about 10 years ago and was left feeling a bit flat. Curious to understand why a book which originally did nothing for me had become known as a piece of Iconic Literature, and after having read and enjoyed several of Greene’s other novels, I decided to pick it up again recently to see if age would alter my perception of Brighton Rock.

      In essence, and described so by Graham Greene himself, this is a Detective story. Hoever, it is a detective story with a twist – several twists in fact.

      Few simple detective novels will delve into to world of religion but Greene compares Catholisism repeatedly with common-sense ethics. This instantly gives the story a philosophical edge. The internal struggle Pinkie suffers as a result of his distorted Catholic views takes the story to another level and opens him up enough for the readers to feel his weaknesses. In line with the religious turnoil surrounding the characters is a view on human sexuality which surprices the reader momentarily before becoming an integral part of the evolving tale.

      Much more important than the act is the struggle Pinkie and his girlfriend of convenience endure when faced with what they see as a mortal sin. I found Pinkie’s fear and disgust of sex an interesting and telling point. This fear went a long way to showing Pinkie’s vulnerability and helped to bring what would otherwise be a very hostile readership, around to not only tolerating him but even sympathising with him.

      The focus is very much on the mid of Pinkie, his growing parapnoia and how he grew into his own worst enemy. For me, the continuing development of this kept me interested.

      In contrast Ida was the epitimy of motherhood and all things good. She was our confident, our guidance councellor to turn too when the darkness of Pinkie’s world became to much. When we couldn’t take the darkness anymore we could turn to the comfort or Ida who reminded us of the real world outside of underground Brighton. As a result, her character gave the story a completely different slant.

      I found the book slow to take off and in fact I found it dragged somewhat throughout. Perhaps I have a limited concentration span as I also found it hard to follow the characters in some parts. It seemed the book had a large cast, and certainly, as far as Pinkie’s minions went, there was little to differentiate between them.

      Conclusion
      *************

      I bet you didn’t know…
      **************************
      - Brighton Rock has left it’s mark on Britain’s music world; - both Pete Doherty and Morrissey have made reference to the book or it’s main characters in songs. Morrissey first with “Now my Heart is Full” and more recently Doherty referenced the book in his song “I love you but you’re green”.

      -The book was made into a film starring Richard Attenborough as Pinkie in 1947 and was hailed as one of the most successful British Films.

      -In 2004 the book was revived briefly as a musical in London. Unfortunately it closed after only running for 3 weeks

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        18.06.2002 17:17
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        A book full of atmosphere, which recreates the criminal underworld of Brighton in the 1950s: the front and Palace Pier, the station and Seven Dials, the race track, Rottingdean, and the Downs – and the cheap and nasty terraced housing where Pinky lives. This book examines the naiveté of love, ambition and 'the sickness that attends it' to rise above the slums, and above all the bullying mentality of the petty criminal. Sharply written, and full of psychological insight, Greene spins a tight story as the web closes in first on the innocent and then on the loving. But as with so much of Greene’s writing, this is not only a story of crime and punishment, but also sin and damnation: the flames of hell await Pinky on the chalk cliffs above the town – and then the final twist. A very good read

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        25.05.2001 22:53
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        Graham Greene is one of our nations most treasured authors, if you are a reader of books, you cannot have failed to read at least one. I myself have been through about eight of his novels, but am always drawn back to Brighton Rock, as was the case, when looking at my pile of new novels to read, nothing really jumped out, so I turned to Brighton Rock. This is the book that started my love affair with literature, as a 15 year old boy I was more interested in girls and football than books, but I was forced to read this as a GCSE set text and it filled my imagination and sparked my dormant brain into thought. Brighton Rock is early Greene, written in 1938, with the world on the brink of another major war, it is dark, seedy, violent and disturbing, it is a painting of the state of the nations youth, disgruntled, disorientated and feeling that they are wise beyond their years. The plot centres around three main characters. Pinkie, a seventeen year old thrust into the leadership of a Brighton protection racket following the brutal murder of its previous leader by a rival gang. Rose an innocent waitress, caught up as a potential witness to another murder, who Pinkie in his desperation to maintain control on everything around him marries in order to shut up; and Ida a large woman, of disputable morals (according to society?s rules), who above everything else wants life to be fair and justice to be done. Pinkie and his gang murder a journalist, Charles Hale, the reason appears to be some link between the journalist and some of the betting operations that Pinkie?s gang extort money from, but the motive is always clouded in mystery, everything seems safe, when the inquest into his death results in the verdict of natural death! But Pinkie soon learns that you cannot ever be totally in control of life, when one of his gang Spicer, has committed a mistake of being seen in the wrong place at the wrong time by Rose, moreover, Ida is suspicious about
        the death of who was her new found friend and is determined to find out the truth and embarks on tracking Pinkie?s gang down. So begins the tale of gangland violence in Brighton, with Pinkie forever trying to regain control of events, trying to close one problem after another, whilst trying not to show to the world his greenness and inexperience. The book moves at a fast pace and as with all of Greene?s early novels, it has a gritty realism to it, you are sucked into the world of Pinkie as the tale is told from his perspective and therefore the deranged thoughts that occur in a angry young mans? head. What is life about? Why can I not control it? Why do people not do what I want them to? How can I get people to do what I want? Flash across his mind in one form or another. Greene slips in and out of two different writing styles, first the fast paced action book, the story of violence and revenge; but secondly a more sedate descriptive style, of Brighton, its sea front, its people and its life. There is very little humour in this book, unlike the more ironic comedies such as Our Man in Havana; this is a truly dark book, with seedy back room settings and grim violence. But as with all Greene novels there is a hidden story here. This time, as is common with a number of his books, such as The Power and the Glory it is a debate, between what is right and wrong; good and evil, in society?s view and in the view of the Catholic Church. In Brighton Rock, Ida, is free and easy, she has loose morals, she drinks, has a fast tongue and is quick to befriend men. In society?s view she is almost a whore, or buer, in Greene?s underground language. But it is Ida that pursues justice, Ida that is at heart just a simple but good woman. Whereas, Pinkie and Rose, the Roman Catholics are as bad as each other. Pinkie is a murderer, a violent individual who would stop at nothing to get what he wants. Rose is the same, she wants out of her drea
        ry life and is prepared to marry a man who she knows has killed to get it. In the church?s view, Ida is the evil one, but is this true? Greene despite being a Catholic is quick to point out the contradictions of his own religion and society?s own judgemental attitude. The book is also about the perception of character. Rose is seen as the innocent young girl, but she is actually far from this and all ?right minded? people frown upon, Ida but she is the one character with honest motives in the whole book. I always get the feeling that part of Anthony Burgess?s inspiration for a Clockwork Orange came from Brighton Rock. Brighton Rock has the same angry youth, lashing out at society, the same underground language, indeed in Brighton Rock the police are known as boogies and Pinkie and his gang have much the same code language. Despite having a tight plot line and fast pace, Brighton Rock is a book of ideas and messages. Can you control anything? What is good and what is evil? How innocent is youth? Furthermore this is as big a denouncement of the Catholic Church as his more famous critique of his own religion, the Power and the Glory. I never find that Greene?s books jump out as truly exceptional, but they are always easy to read, well plotted and with some theme neatly buried into the plot. If you are green to Greene, Brighton Rock is a good a place as any to start. The book is published by penguin, costs £5.99 in paperback and is 247 pages, of small writing long.

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          23.08.2000 15:46
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          My favourite of Graham Greene's earlier books, this was written and set in the 1930s. Brighton is popular with crowds of day-trippers from London, but the book also delves into the seamy underworld of the town. The central characters are the teenage gangster Pinkie, waitress Rose and an ageing good-time girl Ida. Pinkie's gang, like its rivals, profits from the visitors, running betting scams. After his superior is killed, the unstable Pinkie leads into a frightening sequence of violence, determined to prevent anyone giving evidence against him. This in turn draws him to Rose, while involving Ida's suspicions. The setting is 'Greeneland' at its best, dingy upstairs rooms and shabby streets. Through these dark settings stalk ambition, vengance, and a possibility of redemption. The story flows well, but best of all is his portrayal of a grim existence. And the ending is classic Greene, certainly not a 'happy' one.

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