Andre's Reviews > Call for the Dead

Call for the Dead by John le Carré
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's review
Jan 14, 2012

liked it

I’d never heard of John Le Carré before my wife and I saw Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy last weekend. We loved the movie. I thought it was great. I decided to go back and read all of Le Carré’s George Smiley novels. Call for the Dead is the first of them, Le Carré’s first novel of any type. I didn’t expect much from it; I knew that Le Carré was still trying to find himself as he wrote it. In his introduction to the novel, he stated that he wrote on the train during his morning commute and that his wife typed up his scripted words every night.

As I said, I didn’t expect much, but Call for the Dead was good. Nothing spectacular, nothing memorable. But it was good, and I will read at least the next novel. The only thing that really bothered me was a single passage near the end of Chapter 14. And it was, to me, a big deal. When describing a Cuban racecar driver for whom Smiley’s ex-wife had left the protagonist, Le Carré wrote: “The most repellent thing about him, he remembered, had been the hair on his arms. With the goggles and the motor oil and that ludicrous laurel-wreath he had looked exactly like an anthropoid ape fallen from a tree. He was wearing a white tennis shirt with short sleeves, which had somehow remained spotlessly clean throughout the race, setting off those black monkey arms with repulsive clarity.” So if there’s more of this, I’ll bow out of the series. There are too many good books out there to put up with this crap when it doesn’t fit the story.

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Reading Progress

January 14, 2012 – Shelved
January 17, 2012 – Started Reading
January 19, 2012 –
page 108
January 19, 2012 – Finished Reading

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