Paul Theroux

A Book of Quite Startling Banality

A World of my Own: A Dream Diary

By

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‘The most horrible thing he could imagine as a boy was to feel an ice-cold hand laid upon his face in a pitch dark room when alone at night; or to awaken in semi-darkness and see an evil face gazing close into his own; and these fancies had so haunted him that he would often keep his head under the bed covering until nearly suffocated.’

No, the young haunted writer is not Graham Greene but rather Edgar Allan Poe, the subject of Jeffrey Meyers’s new biography, a book I have been reading for pleasure. That was the sort of strangeness I was hoping to find in Greene’s Dream Diary. Unfortunately, there is nothing in Greene that even remotely resembles the ice-cold hand or the evil face. ‘Another thing lacking is nightmare,’ Greene explains in his introduction. ‘Never terror, never nightmare.’ What kind of serious writer has no nightmares? My heart sank further when Greene writes: ‘The erotic side of life may seem oddly absent from this record but I do not wish to involve those whom I have loved in this World of My Own…’

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