Tuesday, November 7, 2017

John Le Carré

We've been watching John Le Carré's The Night Manager on Amazon Prime. What a good show! Dense, convoluted, full of good and evil, with deeply nuanced and/or flawed characters—and some gorgeous geography (Mallorca, Madrid, Istanbul, even London/MI6) as well. We just finished episode 4 of 6. I'm expecting some serious danger and bad dudeliness in the next episode.

I believe that much of the dialogue and characterization are taken from the original book itself. He's a master.

Which makes me think: maybe to revisit John Le Carré's oeuvre next year? I can think of worse ways to spend my time.

Here's the full list of all his books. I've read a few of them—mostly the Smiley Cold War novels—and wouldn't mind reading them again. And then the rest as well. It seems he's managed to get over the fact that the Cold War ended: there's still plenty of spycraft to write about.

First, the George Smiley novels. (The rankings are from a Slate article, from 1—his flat-out best—to 23.)

Call for the Dead (1961)  7
A Murder of Quality (1962)  18
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963)  4
The Looking Glass War (1965)  21
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974)  3
The Honourable Schoolboy (1977)  2
Smiley's People (1979)  9
The Secret Pilgrim (1990)  14
A Legacy of Spies (2017)

And stand-alone novels:

A Small Town in Germany (1968)  23
The Naive and Sentimental Lover (1971)  22
The Little Drummer Girl (1983)  8
A Perfect Spy (1986)  1
The Russia House (1989)  11
The Night Manager (1993)  16
Our Game (1995)  17
The Tailor of Panama (1996)  12
Single & Single (1999)  13
The Constant Gardener (2001)  5
Absolute Friends (2003)  6
The Mission Song (2006)  10
A Most Wanted Man (2008)  20
Our Kind of Traitor (2010)  19
A Delicate Truth (2013)  15

And finally, there's The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life (2016), which I happen to own—so perhaps I should start there. Though a big part of me wants to get reacquainted with George Smiley—whom I will always think of as having the face and voice of Alec Guinness, and not of Gary Oldman. But that's a different matter entirely.

Or finally finally, maybe I should indulge in the recent "definitive" biography of John Le Carré, by Alan Sisman. No shortage of reading material, that's for sure.

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