I heard last night that writer known as John le Carré has died at age 89. Very recently, I read his excellent book of stories from his life, The Pigeon Tunnel. I also tried for the second time to wade through his seemingly impenetrable novel, The Perfect Spy, finding myself at a wall at the same place early on in the novel both times.
When I was a boy, I recall my father reading le Carré’s novels and loving them. At that time I tried to read one (I don’t recall which) and didn’t stick with it. I wanted a faster pace in my spy novels, I suppose. It’s been said that le Carré created the anti-Bond in his George Smiley character, and I would agree with that. It was not until after the Cold War that I became interested in his books. I came to enjoy the detailed, grey world he created, plodding pace, and an insight into the spy game that came from first-hand experience – and thoroughly appreciated several of his novels.
I also love both the BBC mini-series and the later film adaptations of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy as well as Richard Burton’s fabulous performance in the bleak but excellent film, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.