Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Much of Saturday afternoon was spent convalescing in the wake of a very stubborn headache. Managed to go to lunch with friends, but collapsed shortly after. Re-surfaced from depths of very accommodating down comforter around dinnertime. Head and eyes were still pounding, but the discomfort was manageable enough for me to potter about the apartment, catching up as much as possible with my to-do list.

One of the things that I managed to complete was finishing Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I admit, I sort of skimmed the last chapter; but I’ve BEEN skimming the book for the last dozens of chapters, and honestly I just wanted to be done with the book. I haven’t been enjoying it. The book seriously lacks in suspense, which I just can’t forgive because BY JOVE THIS IS A MYSTERY NOVEL AND WHAT IS A MYSTERY NOVEL WITHOUT SUSPENSE. And while reading it, I didn’t feel that much was at stake, even though I intellectually recognized that there was much at stake. (For crying out loud, there’s a Soviet mole running loose in the top tiers of British Intelligence!) No one really freaks out, no one makes a scene—I suppose they’re all too pro to do that—they just calmly, matter-of-factly address the problem, threading us along through a series of somewhat bewildering interviews with past Intelligence agents, conducted in paragraphs chock full of Intelligence lingo that, sure, added to the atmosphere of the story but had me feeling more lost than impressed. There was also the issue I had with Jim Prideaux’s stint as a school teacher. Cute, and humanizing, and humorous, but otherwise tangental.

Still, I appreciated the subtlety of Le Carré’s writing. Which I realize undermines everything that I’ve just said. But I guess one can appreciate something without liking it, right? I thought it was neat that he introduced the characters through dialogue and details made offhand by the narrator. It was tiring, keeping track of everyone and where they all stood in relation to each other, but different. And subtle. And I like subtle. I also liked George Smiley. He reminds me a lot of CSI Foyle from Foyle’s War, with his dry humor and understated intelligence. He was a good lead character: strong, smart, and someone you could trust.

I’ll conclude with the trailer from the recent film adaptation starring pretty much every single male big name in contemporary British cinema: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Ciarán Hinds, Toby Jones, John Hurt, Mark Strong… After reading the book, I can say that the movie was incredibly faithful to its literary original. Definitely give it a watch, if only for the star-studded cast.


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