Read the introduction, but skip the prologue and the first chapter (go back when you're finished and see for yourself if you really missed anything imRead the introduction, but skip the prologue and the first chapter (go back when you're finished and see for yourself if you really missed anything important).
This short novel (205 pages) should be taught in creative writing courses for its strengths (basic story) and its imperfections and lost opportunities. Farrell badly needed an editor. Could have been one of the greats. Worth a look....more
Haven't read Baby Shark, but it didn't seem to matter.
Liked the characters, liked the time (middle 1950's), liked the setting (Dallas and environs). IHaven't read Baby Shark, but it didn't seem to matter.
Liked the characters, liked the time (middle 1950's), liked the setting (Dallas and environs). It is a fast read where the narrative easily pulls the reader along.
Kristin is an accomplished brawler, knife fighter, and pistol marksman. The bodies stack up early and often, although curiously she doesn't seem to revel in it. Being a knife fighter takes a certain kind of attitude - think Jim Bowie and you'll be there. I think it would be better if Kristin at least admitted secretly to liking the adrenaline rush.
Some of the dialog was awkward. Fate used dialog between Otis and Kristin to inform the reader of things that were known to both of them (sort of an "As you know...." kind of thing.) Some of the Texas-isms seemed a little odd and forced.
Robert Fate is a little shaky on Texas vegetation. Jacarandas and avocados are tropical/subtropical species and don't survive the cold winters of north Texas (I have tried...honestly, but the winters kill them). I won't even mention the horrible drought of the mid-fifties.
But, for whatever its problems, it was an enjoyable read....more
Often considered the weakest of the Karla trilogy, I found The Honourable Schoolboy to be quite an enjoyable read.
The strong point of this novel is chOften considered the weakest of the Karla trilogy, I found The Honourable Schoolboy to be quite an enjoyable read.
The strong point of this novel is characterization. A "short story" introduces Jerry Westerby. We find out he has a 'thing' for wayward women; he wants to shelter them. Subsequent events pivot on this trait.
Every character has a back story, a psychological motivation and Le Carre takes pains to make them known; short stories, flashbacks, anecdotes, the full panoply of characterization. There are some three dozen characters and they all get the treatment; even Fawn, Smiley's silent factotum.
This careful characterization gives the story a certain inevitability. Even the 'twists' seem destined in hindsight.
The Honourable Schoolboy is a fine example of characterization in the service of story. Recommended to anyone interested in the art and craft of fiction....more
Alec Leamas lives in a world of government functionaries, shabby offices, and amoral colleagues. The forces of democracy and communism face each otherAlec Leamas lives in a world of government functionaries, shabby offices, and amoral colleagues. The forces of democracy and communism face each other in a dangerous cold war. Each side claims moral superiority. Their intelligence services play a game of cat and mouse; placing agents, turning agents and losing agents. These intelligence services measure their worth not by principle, but by practical success. In doing so, they betray their own people, themselves, and their ideologies. This is the world of Alec Leamas and le Carré immerses the reader in it.
The central theme of this world is betrayal and le Carré creates a story of manifold betrayal; it pulls the reader along. The reader thinks he knows what's happening, just as each of the characters thinks he knows and each character knows something different.
The characters are well developed; we know their psychological motivations; we know why each does what he does. Some of these characters, on both sides, are, for all their flaws, inherently decent and the reader identifies with their struggle to do their best or to do at least one clean thing in a very dirty world.
The prose is economical and well crafted. There is enough story to carry the words; le Carré does not dilute it with irrelevant digressions. There is ultimately in this story a betrayal of principle, but le Carré is never preachy. Control offers Leamas some advice on the conduct of his mission; le Carré followed that advice when he wrote The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. ...more