Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mount TBR #5

I read this book for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge hosted over at My Reader’s Block from January 1 – December 31, 2015. The challenge is to read books that you already own.

Single & Single – John LeCarre

The writer Tim Parks recently wrote, “A certain form of repetition, particularly the endless reformulation, in dozens of different guises, of the same core conflict is probably the hallmark of authenticity.” John LeCarre examines the sins of fathers and their effect on sons.

In The Honorable Schoolboy, Jerry Westerby, son of the press baron Lord Westerby, feels that he has let his father down by becoming a mere journalist, though that is a plausible cover for being a spy. This guilt stokes his sense of duty but also makes him so insecure as seek solace from unsuitable women.

In The Perfect Spy, Magnus Pym is haunted by the death of his con-man and swindler father Rick. Pym takes to writing a memoir in which is chronicles how he indirectly learned snooping, lying, and betraying from his father.

And in Single & Single, a son betrays his father as the father has betrayed his son by never being a real father to him from the get-go. Oliver Single tips the authorities off that his father, a venture capitalist banker, launders money for an organized crime syndicate in Eastern Europe. Then Oliver assumes a new identity. But when Oliver finds out his father has disappeared, he works with customs agent Brock to find the father and offer him immunity if he informs on the British officials he was corrupted with the Russians.

I highly recommend this long novel. It is smoothly written, with memorable characters. One also gets the feeling that indeed, this is how high level gangsters and business really think and talk:

“Idle, callow, misinformed, self-indulgent, gratuitous, moralistic problem making,'' cries the father. ''Was Adam the first man? I don't know. Was Christ born on Christmas Day? I don't know. In business, we play life as we find it. Not as it is handed down from the infant throne of the liberal newspapers.”

Sounds like Faux News. Such ridiculous people to have so much terrible power. They don’t see themselves as criminals and claim that they act like criminals only when necessary.

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