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In some of le Carré's novels you feel haunted by the ghosts of Conrad, Greene, Nabokov, etc. In 'The Perfect Spy', I went back and forth about whether le Carré was building this novel to be Dickensian spy novel or a Proustian spy novel.
I still haven't quite figured it out. All I know is that it worked; it was brilliant. It was beset by elements of Proust, Dickens, le Carré's own father, and le Carré himself. In a story about multiple fathers, why can't it be both an ode to Dickens and Proust?
'A Perfect Spy' is a novel about deception (but what spy novel isn't about deception?), memory, love and loyalty. It is a story about the sins of fathers and the absolutions of sons. It is about a character who is on the run without ever leaving a room; a room filled with hidden cabinets, burn boxes, and years and years of secrets and conflict; a room that holds a perfect spy who is running from his past, running from his present, and running from his future.
I've said this before, but I don't ever get tired of preaching it: le Carré is a novelist that WILL be read in 100 years and perhaps in 500 years because he is absolutely tapped into the global zeitgeist of the modern man and the modern nation-state. Le Carré has his finger on the pulse of what we NEED to believe, what we YEARN to believe. He has a story to tell and a map of our often hidden realities.
Le Carré's has baked a madeleine that we eventually all must choke on, because we all eventually get to that point where we refuse to swallow anymore sh!t.
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I had difficulty getting through and have not finished it yet. I listen to audiobooks while driving, so I need stories that keep my attention - humor, drama, thrillers - but this was too slow for me. I've enjoyed all the other le Carre books I've read (just 4 from the Smiley series) so I expected more of the same. Perhaps I should have read the description and reviews better, because a lengthy and detailed account of a man's childhood did not interest me. I'll probably try it again in the future.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful