In the film Amadeus, Mozart's Opera is criticized as having "two many notes." Le Carre's early works abound in detail; detail so great, so ponderous, and yet so necessary to his story. Most of his later books, however, are read as abridged editions, as is his latest one. Here the author reads his greatly abridged edition, announcing to all that his work has become pedantic. "Look here," he seems to say. "I can remove half of my words and still have the same story!" Unfortunately, his knife didn't cut deep enough. He could remove still another half. Too many notes.
The story is simple. Two radical "pink" friends interact throughout their lives. Firstly in the radical student movements of the 1960's in West Berlin. Then as spies for England against East Germany. Finally, they are set up by an ex-CIA agent, now working for global corporate interests, to look like terrorists targeted against US interests ala 9/11, with the tacit support of a lying George Bush and Tony Blair, who, of course, must murder them to keep their voices quiet.
Le Carre has always praised a "pink" or radically leftist point of view. In his first novel, Call for the Dead, for example, a Foreign Office employee is murdered. We find the man was sympathetic and a good communist. Not the "Communist" brand, mind you, but with a little c. He also, however, found some sympathy for Western thought as long as it was sufficiently liberal. Further, Le Carre has always pointed sharp barbs at the United States as well. In Absolute Friends, his portrayal of the new anti-global, anti-New World Order radical leftists is stronger than sympathetic, while his denunciation of capitalism and the United States is stronger than denunciatory. Can one read with some credibility that 9/11 was planned and executed by agents controlled by global corporations and supported by the US government?
Listen if you must. Many fewer notes.
An excellent reading of Le Carre's Tinker Tailor. This book is not for those who believe that James Bond is the ultimate spy, nor is it for those whose powers of attention span a mere few moments. Promising a realistic spy story, Le Carre delivers, complete with realistic tradescraft, deals, double deals, twists, turns, and attention to extreme detail necessary for good spy story.
I recall the reaction of my academic peers when Le Carre's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was released as a movie -- "Huh?"
This can easily be the reaction of the reader of Tinker, Tailor. At the first level, a good spy story should leave one wondering, "Huh?" as well. Le Carre succeeds. But the diligent can ferret out all that is needed for understanding.
A cult classic of the 1960's, the story does not translate to the 21st century as well as I had hoped. The narrator does not help matters either, with his frequent monotone drone and terrible attempts at producing "female" voices. If you are a Heinlein fan, but are unfamiliar with the book, you should understand that Stranger is not a typical Heinlein space opera. There are long sections of philosophical "libertarian" meanderings that were common in books published in the 1960s. For the patient, however, the book is worth at least one read. I recommend, however, a paper version.
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