Thursday, September 15, 2016


J O H N     L E     C A R R E

I didn't want this brambly book to end — brambly because we end up everywhere this spy master in his memoir and essays and asides-of-a- sort takes us. Deep into Russia, of course, and Palestine, Israel, forever Germany. Spies just love Germany to this day, it must be the weather, the aura, the type of cities, the names of the cities. As Walter Benjamin would remind us, "More quickly than Moscow itself, one gets to know Berlin through Moscow." And le Carre, master of espionage looks like a spy, even though he claims he has been out of that business since he was about 30, showing forth with his third novel and most known The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) . When he comes to America it is Hollywood. He writes that of all the films made from his good books, his favorite films were the ones that were almost made from his books. It takes a long time to finish this book of just 300 pages because you are going to be sent into every corner. The author's father was a con man, or a saint, depending. His mother never hugged him, the con man (saint) did. He writes well of spies, betrayal, the degree of research into his books which takes him into dangerous places where I bet Philip Roth has never been. There is almost a medical precision to every piece even though the author looks comfortable and casual in his suit without a tie, sitting in a simple chair, on concrete against a concrete wall, arms and legs crossed, a pinkie ring on one hand while awaiting interrogation. It could have been a more normal and long-winded and gallant book. That it comes brambly may mean the author isn't giving away all the secrets.

[ BA ]

Viking ~ 2016

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