Category Archives: Fiction

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – John le Carre

I enjoyed the movie so much that I decided to read the book itself in spite of it not featuring dargons, plate mail, or magic. I did enjoy the book, but it took me a long time to finish reading it. There are several reasons for that.

    1. I only read it during lunch or while on the subway.
    2. The paperstock was heavier than a usual paperback and I kept turning back a page, thinking I turned 2 pages instead of 1.
    3. Seeing the movie before reading the book lead to visualization problems. I kept reading descriptions of characters and stopping to try and picture them, only to have the movie depictions get in the way.
    4. M borrowed the book and never gave it back.

Seeing the movie before reading the book leads to some issues, most obviously the one where I know what happens. Another is that I am double guessing myself, wondering if so-and-so’s actions were a hint of what was to come.

There are other things that slowed me down, such as my inability to picture where the mentioned cities are located or get a grip on references. This is where my limited geography and history schooling showed a lot. And the fact that I have no idea where anything in England is located. It would not have been a problem if I had a laptop with me to look up maps and whatnot, but I never read it while I had access to a computer.

I suppose that this is an issue if you’re used to reading fantasy books. No need to know where things are! Just use your imagination.

I don’t think this is a con, per se; it is a reminder that I need to read things that are based in this world. This does not make it more likely for me to read fiction, and I do not feel lessened by this admission.

Anyways, it was a good read that was undoubtedly influenced by my enjoyment of the movie. Some times, I say, “Ricky. Ricky Tarr” in what is undoubtedly the worst imitation of Gary-Oldman-being-Smiley when Smiley sits down to talk with Ricky Tarr. M doesn’t get the reference right away, which saddens me.

It’s a very different style of writing compared to what I am used to, florid and what feels like run-on sentences without actually being run-ons, although I think there are definitely run-on sentences. When I read it, I imagined an older white man with pock-marked jowls and a bulbous nose, spotchily flushed with burst blood vessels, describing his hey-day. Perhaps with a bit of spittle.

That is how the book reads. (To clarify, because M said I was being mean to poor Smiley, the writing feels that way, definitely not Smiley.)

There are some confusing turns of phrase in the book, specifically anything referencing pink.

“In the pink.”

“When everyone was a little pink.”

As far as I know, there are 3 uses for “being in the pink.” Being in the pink of good health, being slightly pink in boys’ boarding school days for homosexual activity, and being a pink for Communists. All of those could have been applied to any of the uses of “pink” in the book and it gave me pause because I wasn’t sure which one was being referenced, especially with pink in reference to school days. I was under the impression that sexual and political experimentation ran rampant back then, so I wasn’t sure which one the described character was dipping his digits into.

That aside, I enjoyed this florid book. I will read the rest as soon as I figure out where M put them.

(So tempted to back-date this since I read the book about a month after the movie came out, but I am slack on these attempts to write about books and I might as well own up to it.)