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Matter of the Heart

Graham Greene's letters to his paramour, Catherine Walston, trace the hazy line between life and fiction

Strangely, though, I returned the last box feeling rather less like an invader of privacy than I had when I started. "The act of creation is awfully odd and inexplicably like falling in love," Greene wrote in one of his early letters to Walston. That may be true, but when I finished reading the record of Greene’s great love, I felt like a spectator at the coronation of the Japanese emperor. That essential moment of communion between the emperor and the sun is screened and unseen. So, too, must be the moment of creation when a writer like Greene takes the stuff of these letters and turns it into fiction. The secret of that trick is a matter whose privacy Greene maintains in his grave.

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