I’ve been reading THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD (John LeCarre) for the past month now — or so Goodreads tells me — because I’m spending a lot of time staring out the train window instead. This has nothing to do with the book. More to do with my aging eyes.
Anyhoo, I’ve been thinking about this book and you know? It really shouldn’t work. I mean, really. It’s a spy drama but the most action that’s happened so far is that one guy was riding a bike. Riding a bike while being shot at, sure, but still what it boils down to is a dude on a bike. Oh, and then there was one guy who got punched in the face, but really that’s **it**!!
Apart from that it’s all men in cars, men in rooms, men back in their cars on their ways to other rooms. Men talking. Mostly men, but my point isn’t about gender. It’s about activity. There isn’t much of it. It’s a book about talking. Talking about spying, sure. But mostly, it’s just a book with men sitting across the room from one another, talking. And I picture all of them in neat brown suits and narrow ties, perched on chairs in British drawing rooms, talking like Hugh Laurie used to talk back when he was British.
So, all this talking about spying and this driving around and the drawing rooms and the ‘I say, old chap!’ (this from the German guy) AND THEN there’s a couple of paragraphs telling the reader — not showing the reader — how difficult it is to be a spy, living a lie and trying to keep the lie straight in your head, oh how terribly wretched, fie! And so on.
See? This damn book breaks all the rules.
It shouldn’t work.
So why am I enjoying it so much?
Next post I will contrast this book with a recent Neil Cross novel I read. THEN we’ll talk about action.