Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

I got about one third through this book and had to get plot assistance. This is happening with an uncomfortable frequency lately. Author John le Carre knocked me for a wallop here and I blame myself.

I blame myself for going in with a little too much confidence. I blame myself for not seeking assistance earlier. I blame myself for not slowing down. I found this book complicated and distracting until the last 50 pages, when some clarity emerged and I got to know these people.

Earlier this year I read Call for the Dead and A Murder of Quality, the first two of the Smiley books. I’ve been so fired up for Tinker and I just dove into it when I had a small window. I wasn’t ready for the in medias res technique and the level of complication.¬†Smiley basically sequesters himself in a hotel/safehouse and tries to sift through which of his former colleagues and foils is a Soviet mole. Sounds simple, I know, but it has flashbacks and scene changes that I found difficult to follow.

When I finished, I read through the passages I highlighted (I read it on the Kindle) and noticed that I missed big things that should have sunk in. It was a bad reading time for me, I lost focus I think. I spent some time on the Wikipedia page on the book because this is so integral to the Karla trilogy that I need to have a decent understanding of what happened.

I gotta tell you, early on, if I would have just read a few paragraphs of the plot synopsis, the character summaries, and the terminology on the Wiki page I would have been way, way better off. I’m angry dammit, this won’t happen again. I will rent the movie soon and I expect to get a ton out of it, even though I know the ending.

Near the end of the book Le Carre makes this point:

There are moments that are made up of too much stuff for them to be lived at the time they occur.

Maybe that’s the insight I’ll take from this.