Tag Archives: Arts

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – John le Carré

Spy novels have always been a popular brand of book, with espionage being at the forefront of many thrillers and adventures. Most notably, there is Ian Fleming and his creation, James Bond, whose recklessness, only outshadowed by his enduring cool-factor, has captivated audiences for decades, primarily on the big screen where his exploits are shaken but not stirred (I couldn’t resist) with a squeeze of Hollywood glamour.

But then there’s this. Now, I’ve had the good fortune to read a fair amount of books for my age, with all sorts of peculiarities, but I was still relatively daunted at the prospect of reading a book entitled the seemingly gobbledygook name of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I’d heard of it over the last few years, and became more interested in it with the release of its film, in which it was dubbed the intellectual thriller, but really? I was getting confused at the title, never mind the actual book. However, I read on, unfazed, and boy, am I glad that I did.

To start I’d like to say that John le Carré is nothing short of a genius in terms of the scope of the book. You don’t need to read long before you realise how extravagantly complicated and intertwined all the threads of the plot will soon become, and it’s a wonder that he could ever get to anything near a conclusion with what he’s attempted. For something to be so seemingly random yet, eventually, so true is something magnificent, and should not be scoffed at.

The content of this enigma is George Smiley, an experience but now retired MI6 agent. He, however, is asked to come back to help as there is reason to believe there is a Soviet Mole up the hierarchy of the system. Why him? For he’s the only one that can be trusted.

The narrative starts of with pace, the key events which make up the background coming through interrogations and flashbacks, before you have a lot of cards at the table with many possible solutions. You quickly realise that the Mole has the power, and that he has and will continue to have much influence in the Cold War if he remains, so it is vital for his stamping out. I shan’t say anymore in fear of giving anything away, but I hope that this backdrop will entice you to read (and perhaps re-read if you don’t get it first time round) the book. Once you get past the jargon (which I found definitions for on the internet), you’ll find one of the most intricate plots you’ll ever read.

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I thought this to be no better time to recommend a website called Loudmouth, which will soon be up and running. Currently, you can view its blog which will keep you up to date on all its actions before the big launch.

Loudmouth is a new institution which shall publish and publicize young people’s work on the web. It is sure to host many talented writers, photographers and, somewhere down the bottom, me. I’m sure it has got the potential to gain a great following, and it’s sure to have an array of extremely interesting pieces, ranging the whole spectrum of fashion, culture, politics, opinion, photos, creative and literature. Here’s hoping it will be  a success!

Here’s the blog: http://loudmouthofficialblog.blogspot.com/

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The Interrogative Mood – Padgett Powell

Cover of "The Interrogative Mood: A Novel...

Cover of The Interrogative Mood: A Novel?

Well, here I go: my first book review. Jeepers!

Anyway, a book I have been dipping in and out of, and have been reading in a reasonably chronological order (not as easy as it sounds in this case) is The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell. What makes the book special? It is made entirely of questions.

Yep, you read right. Just questions and queries, without a single answer, for a considerable amount of pages. When I originally bought the book, I had no intention of buying it, and had not even heard of its author (who, by the way, wrote Edisto which was nominated for the American Book Award way back in 1984), never mind the work itself. However, it was the iconic front cover design which drew me in, which consisted of a seemingly confused man holding a dauntingly red question mark amidst the white background in which it lies. Curious, I walked over to the place where it stood and picked up a copy. I was instantly hooked.

The mere idea of a novel written with countless questions bewildered me, and, after reading it, you realise the sheer technical ability of the author. The fact is that the concept of this book shouldn’t work, and shouldn’t be published; it’s only Powell’s amazing ingenuity which keeps it going. Indeed, in this case at least, I would be more willing to describe the author as an inventor or, perhaps more fittingly, a wordsmith compared with the terms artist or writer. It is a construction of interconnected questions, which depend on each other to make sense while keeping their random-like feel. Without this sense in the chaos, the book may still be readable, but barely remarkable in its flow, perhaps even the work of a child. Powell, however, retains this.

In fact, he does so in such a way as to explore the depths of modern culture and humanity to a microscopic level, bringing up thoughts and matters which needed such an arousing. I mean, as to take a question from the top of my head, where do you stand in relation to the potato? OK, admittedly that wasn’t the best example of his soul-searching, but instead a showing of his absurd surrealism which is deployed during the work, which are just as important as any of the other questions. Indeed, from the vast plains to the tiniest molecules, Powell leaves nothing untouched, and an interestingly strange section of questions concerned on the matter of what you would say if Jimi Hendrix suddenly offered to play some guitar to you was one of my favourite parts, and the narrator (or should I say questioner?) was a character which you could really connect with thanks to his flaws.

In short, this is a great book. A grand machine of a novel, with great mechanisms and tiny intricacies, it truly shows the work of a technical expert, mastering what seemed to be the impossible by taking the 2nd-person narrative (a rarely used mechanism in itself) to the extreme. I mean, who said inventiveness was gone? Because, whoever did, Padgett Powell just proved them wrong.

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