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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
Twenty-One Stories (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
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on November 15, 2017
Bought it and ended up finishing it in 3 days. Really interesting and very story is unique and different. Could have finished it earlier if I would have o my not gone to my classes. Good book overall. Recommend it to anyone who likes reading.
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on December 10, 2017
The greatest writer of our time, Graham Greene, gives us the the best short stories of our time. Proceless
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on December 31, 2009
I read Graham Greene's collection of short stories after reading "The Power and the Glory" and "The End of the Affair" and before I read "The Quiet American". I think they were largely quite good with some very solid stories. They range from the appalling in "The Destuctors" to the very amusing such as "The Blue Film". However, I still prefer the author as a novelist; "The Heart of the Matter" and "The Power and the Glory" in particular.
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on January 7, 2014
A compilation of easy-to-read, very well written stories and interesting characters that make an excellent book to accompany you during travels.
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on March 10, 2015
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on March 20, 2013
Although I am one of Greene's biggest fans, I didn't enjoy this book as much as others by the same author.
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on July 31, 2017
Believe it or not I read Graham Greene because of Drew Barrymore. In at least two movies she has played disenchanted high school English teachers. In one she assigned Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse" and in the second, "Donnie Darko", Mr. Greene's "The Destructors" which is the lead story in "Twenty-one Stories". "Darko" deals with some youthful vandalism and the nature of Man's relationship with God and the perversion of the divine in 80s America. Graham's work often touches on these issues and the general decay of society with a dash of British Catholicism thrown in.

I am not a great fan of Modernist Realism but these stories are wonderful little gems. 'The Blue Film" is a cautionary tale even more relevant in the Digital Age than it was for the original mid-20th century audience. "Men at Work" is a brilliant example of the power of a finely crafted final paragraph. The book is filled with colorful characters ranging from con artists to prostitutes to innocent children to not so innocent ones. Seeing as I was driven to this master of 20th-century storytelling by a SF film about a boy in telepathic communications with the universal intelligence, it was fitting that the author ended this work with "The End of the Party", a tale about telepathically and empathically linked twins.

The quality of the stories and modernness of the prose allows the reader to simply enjoy the work without fear of literary analysis or British stiltedness. Greene is a straight shooter and freely mixes entertainment with serious considerations. This is an excellent introduction to a formidable English writer.
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As many probably have, I hunted down Graham Greene's TWENTY ONE STORIES in order to -finally- read THE DESTRUCTORS. While quite impressed by this metaphorical tale, I was more struck by just how good the rest of the book was. Several stories are classics in themselves, especially, to me at least, Greene's more macabre, eerie, twist-y titles like A LITTLE PLACE OFF THE EDGWARE ROAD, PROOF POSITIVE, and THE END OF THE PARTY. Others, such as A DRIVE IN THE COUNTRY, THE BASEMENT ROOM, and A CHANCE FOR MR. LEVER are grim, human stories of life, death, and the odd, sometimes unexpected misadventures in between. The whole collection is worth reading, and some of the shortest stories fall from memory, but that means they'll be just as enjoyable the second or twelfth time around!...
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on March 21, 2011
As the title says, 21 short stories from 1929-1954 that showcase what a versatile and accomplished writer Greene is.The human condition is his theme,humour tragedy,violence and hope are his illustrators.
All the stories are so well rounded they read like miniature novels.Hard as it is to single out favourites,I loved the humour behind 'Greek meets Greek'-two old con men unwittingly trying to con each other,the swipe at Laputian bureaucracy in 'Men at Work' and the brilliant 'Basement Room',told from a childs perspective as the narrator tries to comprehend an adult world of infidelity deceptions and death.
Ever since I started reading I've had Graham Greene lauded to me,but-despite enjoying 'Monsignor Quixote' and 'The Lawless Roads'-his novels have always grated with their compulsory Catholic character and illusions that-to me- have absolutely no relevence to the story at all(they might just as well be Pagans or Jedhi Knights)and Greene always struck me as the converted bore(Greene converted to Catholicism aged 22)who goes on and on about their new found faith that you cant possible share or care about.It seemed obsession bordering on fetish to me.
But-at last! With 21 stories I can both see and appreciate the great writer they were on about. Yes,there are Catholic characters and illusions, but here there is a point ('The Hint of an Explanation')and thoughts are provoked.
This is a great introduction to Greene. I wish I'd read it first-it may have stemmed my antagonism to his novels and I might have enjoyed them more (I'll know on re-reading)and is up there with the best of them in the short story genre.
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on May 19, 2004
Graham Greene just doesn't get the recognition he deserves as a short story writer. As a novelist, his reputation has been well-established, fortunately. This collection, "Twenty-One Stories" is a fine sampler of Greene's abilities in the shorter genre. Many of the elements that feature so prominently in his novels also figure in these stories: the spontaneity of violence; ruthless polictics; looming secrets; greed; and the complex situations that life drops on you.
Here are some brief looks at my favorite stories:
"The Destructors" is Greene's examination of horrific, calculated vandalism in the extreme, made even more horrifying by the coolness with which it is carried out.
An event in a man's past comes back to haunt him in "The Blue Film". Strangely, the haunting specter doesn't frighten him so much as saddens him.
Purely-plot driven, "The Case for the Defence" is still a brilliant tale worthy of an Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
"Brother" explores the nature of political allegiances and the risks of making them known.
Lastly, "The End of the Party" is a harrowing tale of identical twins playing hide and seek at a party. The ending paragraph left goosebumps on my skin for days.
For those who have never read Graham Greene, "Twenty-One Stories" ought to be your starting point.
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