In ''The Basement Room'' a small boy witnesses an event that blights his whole life. Like the other stories in this book (written between 1929 and 1954), it hinges on the themes that dominate Graham Greene''s novels—fear, pity and violence, pursuit, betrayal and man''s restless search for salvation. Some of the stories are comic—poor Mr Maling''s stomach mysteriously broadcasts all sorts of sounds; others are wryly sad—a youthful indiscretion catches up with Mr Carter in ''The Blue Film''. They can be deeply shocking: in ''The Destructors'' a gang of children systematically destroys a man''s house. Yet others are hauntingly tragic—a strange relationship between twins that reaches its climax at a children''s party. Whatever the mood, each one is a compelling entertainment and unmistakably the work of one of the finest storytellers of the century.
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