Pat’s Reads & Reviews2019-03-21T16:42:43+00:00

Pat’s Reads & Reviews

As an avid reader, I am indebted to a multitude of writers. A few of these other authors, all from the modern era (i.e. post 19th century) and by no means an exhaustive list, are Wallace Stegner, William Styron, J.R.R. Tolkien, John LeCarre, Graham Greene, Philip Kerr, Anita Brookner, Robertson Davies and C.J. Sansom.

From this list of authors, I cannot supply numerical ratings. They’re all masterful writers. But let’s take a slightly expanded look at two of them.

First, John LeCarre. When you think of him what jumps to the forefront of your mind? I suspect you uttered the name George Smiley, one of the most memorable characters in literature. He’s the antithesis of a superhero. Among other things he’s self effacing and a cuckold. Yet, he remains focused throughout the sterling Karla trilogy (“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”, “The Honourable Schoolboy”, “Smiley’s People”) and in the extended denouement, he is thoroughly in charge and commands the respect of all.  And then there are the people of “Smiley’s People”. There are so many. To cite just one, Jim Prideaux is a hard man and a gay man. He lives in a caravan and would never dream of violating the boys he teaches and nurtures at his boarding school. But when the love of his life proves untrue, the consequences are dire indeed.

smiley's people book cover

A favorite read of Author Pat Totman, “Smiley’s People” by John LeCarre.

Graham Greene who, like LeCarre under his real name, worked for the British secret intelligence services. Greene was a prolific writer whose works include thirty novels. One could do worse than start with his post WW II books (“The Heart of the Matter”, “The End of the Affair”, “The Quiet American”, “Our Man In Havana” and “A Burnt-Out Case”).

“Greene’s life was full of personal peccadilloes which some ascribe to his Catholicism, to which he converted at age 22.”

He characterized many of his works as “entertainments.” Among these was “Our Man in Havana”, which featured a vacuum cleaner salesman recruited to spy for Britain who made up many of his reports, including the tall tale of a major military installation in the mountains outside Havana. But, in a darkly prescient development, less than five years after “Our Man in Havana” was published in 1958, actual aerial photos showed Russian nuclear missiles in the same mountains, thus triggering the Cuban Missile Crisis.

One of my recommended reads: “Our Man in Havana”, by Graham Greene.