GRAHAM GREENE: The Hint of an Explanation
“That’s a master key that opens all locks and that – that’s what I bleed people with.”
Who swallows fiction as truth?
Essentially a religious story, and — if its ending in particular becomes a climax excised or bled away like a train boiler’s mistifying steam — this work has at its heart the dark absurdity and disarming strangenesses and haunting hints of an Aickman story for its own sake, this Greene being an insidious classic that should be showcased in horror fiction anthologies as well as in literary ones, whereby there is an abiding hint of an evil ‘Thing’ that is often anthropomorphised, as it says, into Satan, a work that tells of a discussion of hints about ‘the corruption of children’, a discussion between an Agnostic and a stranger he meets on the train who is a Catholic, on a precariously light and dark train as it enters and leaves tunnels with its own echoing haunting whistle, I assume — yes, a work that also yields hints of hints, hints of other leasehold hints of which the freehold author is possibly unaware. The intentional fallacy of the Eucharist.
And who should ever be able to forget Blacker the Baker, a ‘freethinker’ who once importuned the Catholic when the latter stranger was a small altar boy? Except the Agnostic (listening to him tell this and then telling us) was not a stranger to himself, with his being Greene’s leasehold narrator. And the model tableau of an electric train with which the Thing tempted that erstwhile boy to unswallow God. To unswallow His ‘extraordinary coincidences’ and ‘traps’, too.
The Thing of this story is Greene as freehold author. With a key that not only bled Christ but also wounded him up. The train not being electric powered at all? All fiction contains lies mixed with hints of hybrid truth, such as electricity that needs a clockwork key as well as a radiator bleeder, hints instilled into the minds of its readers…. All of us clocked in and clocked out from afar by the Thing that starts the live circuit that is a mock-up of life and death. The blood and the life of fiction and its often involuntary electricity in the regenerative thews as part of the suspended disbelief that is translated into the sprung faith of such fiction as later such faith is transubstantiated into bread to be swallowed and then offloaded. My reviewer’s unconsecrated freehold-thinking ‘hint of an explanation’ at least!
Full anthology context of this review: https://nemonymousnight.wordpress.com/915-2/
My review in 2017 of Greene’s UNDER THE GARDEN: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/under-the-garden-graham-greene/