i began this post twenty minutes ago, scrapped what was written and decided to start over. the original title? “raindrops on roses.” apparently julie andrews is on my mind.
i just finished reading tinker, tailor, soldier, spy. mostly in anticipation of the movie. which i came across in anticipation of the dark knight rises (cue gary oldman and tom hardy), and i cannot wait for the film. alright, i am excited about both movies, but for now let us focus on cold war espionage.
the premise is simple enough. former ‘circus’ agent (british secret intelligence) george smiley is called upon to uncover the mole working at the top rungs of his former organization. this mole brings smiley to test his trust in former co-workers, assess his relationship with his estranged wife, ann, and come to terms with his russian counterpart and nemesis, karla. tinker, tailor is far from straightforward, however. do not expect a james bond or jason bourne movie to emerge from these pages. there are very few guns–and even fewer explosions–but there is a lot of thinking, literally. characters are asked to recount the past in grueling detail, and apparently for spies, there are a lot of details. it was slow moving at the outset; the pace picks up as details of the past begin to align with the present, but there is no driving plot or outrageous twist. instead, the reader unpacks the secrets in a non-linear fashion, patching together tidbits as the story moves across countries, characters and time.
julie andrews would say to start from the very beginning (it is, of course, a very good place to start). tinker, tailor, however, begins with smiley’s search for the mole, years removed from where the hunt truly begins. if you can keep your head above all the names and remember the non-linear pattern of the work, you will make it through. like pinot grigio in the summer and butternut squash soup in the winter, i enjoy certain things in proper season. after finishing, i would have much preferred reading tinker, tailor on a rainy day or a dreary morning. it is a book that requires your focus, an inviting seat, and an inquisitive mind. you can cheat and watch the bbc miniseries–7 episodes–if it gets a bit to lofty, except they splice the story to create a clean, straightforward timeline. it takes a bit of the mystery out of the espionage this way, but an excellent literature-to-film adaptation nonetheless.
speaking of film, have i mentioned that i cannot wait for the movie release this fall? gary oldman, colin firth, tom hardy, benedict cumberbatch..these are a few of my favorite things.
who can spy on the spies? george smiley can. and after working my way through tinker, tailor, soldier, spy, i would like to try my hand at it, too.