Tag: Priest

Leopoldo Duran – Graham Greene: Friend and Brother | Review

Title: Graham Greene: Friend and Brother

Author: Leopoldo Duran

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 354

Rating: 4*/5

 

Leopoldo Duran - Graham Greene: Friend and Brother

Leopoldo Duran – Graham Greene: Friend and Brother

 

I put off starting this book for a long time, but I’m not sure why. As soon as I started reading it I was hooked, and I read it in the space of three or four days. I guess I should start with the background information.

The book is basically a non-fiction piece about Graham Greene, who just happens to be one of my favourite writers of all time. Duran is a priest who was friends with Greene for many years. The two of them went travelling together many times – always with a “Third Man” – and Duran was present at his deathbed when the author died.

But this isn’t a biography, which is a good thing – Greene wouldn’t have liked that. Instead, it’s a collection of reminiscences interspersed with diary entries from Duran and letters that Greene sent him, as well as quotes from his books that put everything into context. The result is a beautiful tribute to Graham Greene and his body of work, and it’s fascinating to see how different things came about.

 

Graham Greene

Graham Greene

 

I was particularly impressed by how Duran managed to stay somewhat impartial throughout – at least, as much as that is possible in a book like this. But while he does mention his own history as a priest and the books that he’d written himself about Greene and his work, they’re only brought in to back up the point that he’s making or to provide some additional context to the reader.

It might not follow a narrative as such, but that doesn’t matter. If anything, it works best how Duran has laid it out, with different chapters and different sections that are dedicated to different topics, from Greene’s battles with the mafia to his thoughts on his own work and his relationships with friends and family members. It’s not a book that just anyone can enjoy, but if you’re a fan of Graham Greene and his literary work then I’m sure you’ll have some fun.

 

Graham Greene - Ways of Escape

Graham Greene – Ways of Escape

 

Click here to buy Graham Greene: Friend and Brother.

 


Stephen King – ‘Salem’s Lot | Review

Title: ‘Salem’s Lot

Author: Stephen King

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 752

Rating: 4*/5

 

Stephen King - 'Salem's Lot

Stephen King – ‘Salem’s Lot

 

‘Salem’s Lot was a great little read, and while it is quite clearly inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula, King doesn’t exactly hide that Stoker’s work was an influence. In fact, at the end of the book, in the afterword, he talks about how ‘Salem’s Lot came about and that, combined with a bonus story or two and a whole heap of extra scenes, actually made up the last quarter of the book. But it was nice to have it, a little like bonus scenes on a DVD. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to, but it will help to enhance your enjoyment.

In terms of the plot, the story follows what happens when a vampire named Barlow decides to establish his claim on a small Maine town. Barlow, accompanied by Straker, his human second-in-command, decides to move into an old house with a bad reputation, and strange things quickly start to happen to the town and its inhabitants.

It’s a creepy read from the master of horror, but it wasn’t so scary that it stopped me from sleeping. In fact, I thought that Dracula was scarier, although I’ll admit that I was younger when I first read it. I think I’ve read so much King now that I’m immune to being scared by him – which is good, because I can concentrate on his epic story lines. ‘Salem’s Lot might not be as long as some of his other releases – The Stand and Under the Dome spring to mind here – but there’s still plenty of growth and character development, and you wouldn’t be able to tell that it’s one of his earlier releases.

 

Stephen King Quote

Stephen King Quote

 

I also liked the way that the characters were fallible. Father Callaghan springs to mind here, and while the alcoholic priest trope has been overused, King has this knack for taking cliches and turning them around, morphing them into something new that we’ve never seen before. If anything, the annoying thing is the way in which so many of his characters are writers, and there’s a writer character here, too. That said, it’s handy to have a writer around when you’re dealing with a vampire infestation, especially if you need someone who knows all of the legends from popular literature.

The plot has plenty of twists and turns, but I did feel as though the ending came on too quickly, and that the bonus bits could well have been included to provide a sense of closure for the reader. For me, it worked the other way around. It felt as though the ending happened halfway through the book, and that it was followed by a bunch of bonus bits that, while interesting, felt a little weird after such an abrupt ending. Stoker’s Dracula felt like it had more of a build-up, which is strange because I’d guess that King’s book is probably longer.

But it leaves a pleasant aftertaste, which is what you should hope for from all decent books. It might have taken me over a week to read it – I wasn’t reading as much as usual due to various commitments – but it never felt like a burden or a chore. It was always pleasant, addictive, with each sub-chapter leaving the reader demanding more. A lot of King’s work is like that, but I felt it more keenly here, and it was just the kind of read that I needed – spooky, sublime and a little different to most other books on the market. It was refreshing to see a new take on the classic vampire, and I’m glad that it came from King and not some B-list author who milked the vampire trend for all it’s worth.

Overall, then, I’d definitely recommend ‘Salem’s Lot, and it’s worth going out of your way to get hold of a copy. If you can get a cheap copy, like I did, then it’s a no-brainer. It’s earned its rightful place in the vampire canon, and it has literary merit in its own special way. It’s one of those rare books that can be enjoyed by anyone – unlike some of King’s other stories, you don’t need to be a certain type of person to have some fun with it. In fact, this is arguably one of his best books to start with, because it provides a decent introduction to King’s work and his style without overwhelming the reader. Read it!

 

Stephen King

Stephen King

 

Click here to buy ‘Salem’s Lot.