Another short fiction piece (and author) I stumbled across thanks to LeVar Burton Reads (if you’re not checking out that podcast, you should), “Graham Greene” is a story found in Everett’s collection Half an Inch of Water. Listening to LeVar Burton read this story was a complete treasure in more ways than one: I was on a train ride home late at night, and a couple behind me (who had met on the train) were loudly discussing their religious beliefs and how their faith could cure the world’s ills if others just understood the one-true-way (TM) and I have never been happier to have earbuds and a podcast in my life.
“Graham Greene” is a delightfully fun little story about a man who gets himself in over his head by being, well, nice. You get the impression he’s always a bit of do-gooder, but perhaps this came from a not so do-good place, but regardless, he meets up with a woman on a reservation who is more than a hundred years old, and she passes him a photograph from decades ago and says, basically, “this is my son, I’ve got a week left to live, please bring him to see me before I die.”
And he tries, because he’s that kind of guy. What unfolds is a story of that trying, but also of the cast of characters in this small reservation, and the man himself—a black man trying to do something good for someone he barely remembers knowing—revealing much about himself through these acts. It’s charming, and the wee little sidestep twist of an ending had me smiling and grateful for the ride.
One thought on “Short Stories 366:48 — “Graham Greene,” by Percival Everett”
The story subverts your expectations and the ending is bittersweet. It makes you think back to Roberta’s motivation for the favor and why she specifically asked Jack to do it.