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Brighton Rock (Vintage classics) Paperback – 4 Jul 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (4 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099287366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099287360
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,461,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'In a class by himself...the ultimate chronicler of twentieth-century man's consciousness and anxiety' William Golding, Independent

Book Description

Gripping, terrifying, an unputdownable read - Greene's iconic tale of the razor-wielding Pinkie. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eponymist on 26 Nov 2012
Format: Paperback
I have a lot of time for Graham Greene. I like people who are contradictions and Greene was certainly that. He converted to Roman Catholicism, was recruited into MI6 prior to World War Two, but also had affairs and spent time smoking opium in Vietnam. His books are comic and they are dramatic, his main characters hapless heroes or ruthless antiheroes. Pinkie Brown is Greene's most antisocial creation of all.

Brighton Rock is the tale of Pinkie's murder of a man called Hale and his efforts to conceal the crime. Pinkie is a young and precocious gangster. His murder of Hale triggers a ruthless grab of power and the narrative arc is like that of a seafront Richard III. Pinkie even has his Anne, a girl called Rose and the only person who could blow his alibi. Brighton Rock is a study in evil and the dark underbelly of Britain's seaside towns in the 1930s.

Graham Greene loved to travel and most of his best novels, Our Man in Havana, The Quiet American, Travels With My Aunt, are international affairs. British set novels like Brighton Rock and The End of the Affair tend to be less adventure romps and more treatises on the nature of religious morality. Pinkie and Rose are both Catholic and yet it is the irreligious Ida who pursues Hale's murderer. Like I said, I like contradictions. Greene had faith and yet he never stopped questioning religion or the people who use is as an excuse.

Brighton Rock is perhaps Greene's most famous novel, although I think he wrote better. Not many, but a few (see previous paragraph). Moreover, his novels have been generally well adapted for the cinema and Brighton Rock has had a couple of pretty good films of it made. Sam Riley is good as Pinkie in the 2010 version, but I still think Richard Attenborough nailed it in 1947. Attenborough captures Pinkie's heartlessness and ambition. Yet neither version takes massive liberties with the text and I can recommend both. Read the book first.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Jun 2003
Format: Paperback
A fan of Graham Greene, I consider this the best of his books I have read so far. Quite long for a Graham Greene book, I found this book literally impossible to put down and finished it in one sitting.
In Pinkie, Greene has created a character repulsive in his seeming amorality and ruthlessness, and yet one that you cannot help sympathising with. Considered one of the greatest villians in fiction, Pinkie's character slowly comes into focus as a victim too - and someone for whom redemption is visible on the horizon but always out of reach.
I have always found Greene a master at handling moral ambiguity, and Brighton Rock is an example of Greene at the height of his powers. Read this book for a well-crafted story, and one that makes serious points about the weaknesses of moral absolutism. Personally I think the ending is sheer genius.
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful By phil99@silvermead.net on 25 July 2001
Format: Paperback
It begins with one of the best opening lines in fiction, and ends with one of the best closing lines. In between, Greene reveals a seamy, dark underside to 1930s Brighton, where behind the facade seen by holidaymakers and racegoers the bookmakers are in thrall to razor gangs offering protection. Hale, the seedy journalist who dominates the early pages, soon emerges as merely incidental; Pinkie, a seventeen year old gang leader, is the central character, leading those around him deeper into his own downward spiral of evil. Greene never reveals how Pinkie knows Hale; but Hale's fear of the boy is clearly drawn, and like Hale himself, you realise the inevitability of his murder, and of the consequences that unfold thereafter.
Tremendous charcterisation of most of the main players - Pinkie is frighteningly nasty, the more so for his total lack of conscience; Rose, his weak-minded girl, is also entirely convincing, as is Hale, the catalyst for the story as it unfolds. I would have wished Greene could have done more with Spicer particularly, perhaps also Dallow and Colleoni, and I'm a little less convinced by Ida Arnold and her motivation for getting involved to the point of being Pinkie's nemesis.
Pinkie himself, though, is one of fiction's great characters, and perhaps merits a better demise than Greene gives him here. But in spite of these minor reservations, this is a tremendous book, still relevant now even after the slums that gave birth to these characters have been taken off the Brighton landscape, and still able to disturb the reader by picturing what humanity is capable of becoming in the absence of conscience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Dec 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Published in 1938, this novel sadly still retains much that is relevant. Set in Brighton, the novel revolves around Pinky, a young anti hero and his attempts to take control of a criminal gang. When Charles "Fred" Hale visits Brighton, in the guise of `Kolley Kibber', his task is to leave various flyers around the town to allow readers of the "Daily Messenger" to claim prizes; a cash prize can also be won if he is recognised and challenged. Unfortunately, though, Hale is recognised by Pinky and his gang as being involved in the earlier murder of another criminal, Kite. Realising that his life is in danger, Hale finds fun-loving Ida Arnold on the pier, and tries to keep her with him as a witness - but it isn't enough to save his life.

What follows is a hideous chain of events, in which Pinky attempts by more and more desperate measures to cover up his role in the murder. These involve the naive young waitess, Rose, who is unknowingly a witness. Pinky, has, though, not counted on the determined Ida; who feels that she must obtain justice for the man she knew for such a brief time.

This is a journey through a sordid world of unremitting violence and desperation. Pinky is little more than a child, but, like so many young men who fall in with criminal gangs, he has made it his family and world. He is up against the much wealthier rival gangster Colleoni, reluctance to be seen as a leader from the men in his gang because he is too young, and events which begin to spiral out of control. His desperate need for respect and his loathing of being controlled and manipulated, cause him to become more and more desperate and violent as the book progresses. This novel is timeless - beautifully written, as you would expect, with an ending which still shocks. Not exactly a `joy' to read, but a thought provoking, intelligent and important book.
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