My Man in Antibes: Getting To Know Graham Greene

David R. Godine. May 2023. 272p. ISBN 9781567927191. $28.95. BIOG
Mewshaw earlier chronicled friendships with Gore Vidal and Pat Conroy (The Lost Prince). Now Graham Greene (1904–91) gets the same focus. When they met, Mewshaw was 29 and Greene was 68; they remained friends for the last two decades of Greene’s life. Both were Catholic with troubled pasts. Mewshaw venerated Greene and wanted approval of his own work. Greene brushed off his first letter, but when they finally met, he was gracious and approachable, not at all as others had painted him. In 1977, Mewshaw’s account of the meeting appeared in print, which angered Greene, who stopped short of calling him a fabulist. A nasty exchange followed. Then Greene wrote, “Let’s forget all about it,” and apparently did. Penelope Gilliatt subsequently published a profile of Greene in the New Yorker that lifted verbatim sections from Mewshaw’s piece. Mewshaw threatened to sue. Gilliatt’s editor, Wallace Shawn, admitted she’d plagiarized but brushed it under the carpet.
VERDICT Mewshaw’s account, especially of Greene’s last years, is moving and perceptive. This lovely book can be read alongside Richard Greene’s The Unquiet Englishman: A Life of Graham Greene.
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