I am a sucker for happy endings, nachos and cheese with Jalapeños.
As a young adult I used to dream Bond movies in full color (though I finally got to watch my first Bond movie well into my 20’s once Pierce Brosnan took over as the new Bond). On odd weekends you can still find me at the local Multiplex catching three shows in a row in flip flops towing enough empty calories to sink a cruise liner.
So it was a little odd when I fell in love with John Le Carre. Unlike me, John relished in twisted endings that would kill a weekend and literally shove you towards the anti-depressants counter at your local store. I wondered many a times, if after leaving MI6, John had decided to work for the pharmaceutical industry and if his share of prescription revenues ever exceeded his royalties from books sold.
LeCarre and I met when I came across a shabby copy of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. As a first introduction the book was weird. Like the first time you eat Turkish toffee, olives or thin crust pizza with pineapples as a topping. Strange, but not too bad! It was interesting enough for me to keep any eye out for other shabby copies of LeCarre novels, which kept on popping up in my life with surprising frequency. By the time I reached the Night Manager, I was hooked for good. A good LeCarre was prescribed for slow days when you had the flu, hated the world around you and wanted to cuddle up with something that would soothe the tear in your soul by rending another right next to it.
Then I found Our Game; something happened to John when he wrote his seminal work that put the world in context for me. Prior to Our Game, John was all about the cold war, George Smiley and Karla, and the injustices of the cousins from across the pond. The focus was Moscow, the play ground the world, the stake – the great British Empire, the bully and brute played by Langley.
Our Game broke new ground by focusing no longer on the bigger game, but the smaller game that affects those living outside the Empire. To be fair all LeCarre novels are about the small fry caught in the web of the great game, but this little piece of fiction was not about the British or the Americans, it was about a crappy little country that no one really knew or cared about. Somewhat like us.
And then he was on a roll. Tailor of Panama, though about Panama, can just as easily be about our home. A Constant Gardner, about Africa and Big Pharma, with the switch of a few names and locations can be just about anywhere corporate greed has gone haywire. Absolute friends explained the world that exists around us better than going to an Ivy League public policy or political science school.
If you want to understand the mess we are in (official motto: We are in the News again), or when will this pain end, I would recommend that you pick up Our Game, A Tailor of Panama and Absolute friends. If you don’t have the time to read all three, read the Tailor. If you want me to spare you the horrors of reading LeCarre and just want a one line prescription, just vote for the Democrats in November. A change of colors at the White House will do this country (this country being a crappy little place that no one knew or cared about till September 2001) more good that you can imagine.
There is no way for me to explain this comment without you reading the prescribed texts. And you can’t watch the movie because you would miss all the subtext.
(Also for those of you worried about the sudden shift in my attitudes, please note that I revoked my Conspiracies-R-US membership the day after I graduate from the John LeCarre school of political science. There are no conspiracy theories – they are all true).