September 1, 2020
You’ll be forgiven if you dive in here thinking, automatically, that they’ll be a murder and a portly Belgian detective within this here Cocktail Talk, cause m’lady Christie’s book that shares the two words of the title is rather a big deal, but nope! Today, we’re Cocktail Talking with gregarious Graham Greene, which is also rather a big deal of course. But while his Orient Express isn’t the best known, or most highly thought of, book within Greene’s healthy and unmissable canon, it was the first of his (to use his own phrasing) “entertainment” books, and one written specifically with the movies in mind – though it begs, in many ways, for an updated film or tv treatment as there isn’t a good one that I know of. While not the top of the Greene list, the book’s a rollicking read in many ways, dated in some ways here and there, but moving at a fast clip, and with characters you begin to really care about, or, if that’s too fancy, become involved with, their stories, that is, and a few you might be happier to do without. Read it, if you haven’t, to see if you agree. And for now, enjoy the below drunkenness.
‘Oh, for God’s sake, come on, Mabel,’ Janet said.
Miss Warren’s mood changed. She straightened herself and barred the way. ‘You say I’m drunk. I am drunk. But I’m going to be drunker.’
‘Oh, come on.’
‘You are going to have one more drink with me or I shan’t let you on the platform.’
Janet Pardoe gave way. ‘One. Only one, mind.’ She guided Mabel Warren across a vast black shining hall into a room where a few tired men and women were snatching cups of coffee, ‘Another gin,’ said Miss Warren, and Janet ordered it.
–Graham Greene, Orient Express
February 21, 2017
I recently re-read (for the, oh, let’s say, fourth time) Graham Greene’s classic short post-WW-II Vienna thriller The Third Man. It was written specifically to be made into the (possibly) more classic movie of the same name, and is entirely worthwhile. And a quick read, too, as it both keeps you on the edge of your reading chair or couch – as you, along with the amazingly-named Rollo Martins, unravel the mystery of Harry Lime – and because as mentioned, it’s short. It also has a couple of neat bar scenes. I especially like the description below.
After he left me, Martins went straight off to drink himself silly. He chose the Oriental to do it in, the dreary smoky little night club that stands behind a sham Eastern façade. The same semi-nude photographs on the stairs, the same half-drunk Americans at the bar, the same bad wine and extraordinary gins – he might have been in any third-rate night haunt in any other shabby capital of a shabby Europe.
– Graham Greene, The Third Man
January 23, 2012
As the political, um, talk is reaching its election-year-in-January proportions (talk which I’m sure by the actual election will reach astronomical asinine-ness), I thought I’d throw in a Cocktail Talk quote from Graham Greene. It’s not, however, specifically about politics, but it seems relevant. It’s not, either, from one of my favorite books by Mr. Greene (who is of course super-fan-tabulous), but from a perhaps lesser novel called Travels with My Aunt. The fact that it’s one of his books makes it better than most books on the top seller list, however. But, to get back to politics. And booze. The reason this quote seems so perfect for an election year goes back to a thought I once had (and if anyone says “the one thought you ever had,” well, good point), that if we could see those fight’n politicians after a few glasses of bubbly we could probably find out more about them then listening to any ol’ debate. Which leads to this quote, which I might use as a slogan if I ever run for office:
Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector.
–Graham Greene, Travels with My Aunt
May 16, 2011
First, an apology for the lack of posting. Moving back to Seattle from the I-tal has been a process, and has left me with little umph for blogging. Or, after reading (re-reading really, as I’ve read it at least once, and probably twice, before) Graham Greene’s somewhat funny/somewhat serious Cuban spy-and-not novel Our Man in Havana, I’ve been too inclined to have a daiquiri at noon for blogging. I like that take on things much better, so let’s go with that excuse, and start a rumor of me being a two-daiquiris-at-noon fella. Heck, maybe I’ll even inspire you to start. If I don’t, hopefully this quote does (or starts you collecting miniature bottles of whiskies):
‘Eighteen different kinds of scotch,’ the stranger said, ‘including Black Label. And I haven’t counted the Bourbons. It’s a wonderful sight. Wonderful,’ he repeated, lowering his voice with respect. ‘Have you ever seen so many whiskies?’
‘As a matter of fact I have. I collect miniatures and I have ninety-nice at home.’
‘Interesting. And what’s your choice today? A dimpled Haig?’
‘Thanks, I’ve just ordered a daiquiri.’
‘Can’t take those things. They relax me.’
—Our Man in Havana, Graham Greene