Unfinished Greene novel serialized in magazine

Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:04am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - A long-lost, unfinished Graham Greene novel is being serialized in a U.S. magazine this month, and the editor may invite readers to complete it.

"The Empty Chair," comprising five chapters and around 22,000 words, is a murder mystery set in a country house, drawing comparisons with the champion of the rural English "whodunnit," Agatha Christie.

"It does have the ingredients of an Agatha Christie country house murder mystery, but (the story by) Graham Greene has a unique twist to it," said Andrew Gulli, managing editor of U.S.-based The Strand Magazine which is printing the story.

"The vivid characterization of Graham Greene is there," he added. "Although he wrote it when he was 22, it's clearly a work by Greene, the work of a mature writer."

The Empty Chair opens with Alice Lady Perriham, an actress who married into the aristocracy who was "exquisitely conscious of looking no more than 35," hosting a house party.

Her guests discover the body of Richard Groves, who one character describes as "a dark, surly, underhand brute," with a knife plunged into his chest.

The manuscript, 22,000 words long and written in 1926, was discovered last year by Greene scholar Francois Gallix at the Humanities Center in the University of Texas.

Gallix said the incomplete story came at an important stage in British novelist Greene's life, because in 1926 he converted to Roman Catholicism and started working as a sub-editor at the Times newspaper in London on a trial basis.   Continued...