Call for the Dead
David Cornwell, aka John le Carré, died of pneumonia at The Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro. this day December 12,2020. He was 89.
The first novel of his I read was Call for the Dead. It was followed by Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and then The Honourable Schoolboy. The latter would be my go to book to read every Christmas.
Why did he have such a hold on me?
The vulnerability of his writing; his “camcorder” descriptions of people and incidents; the characterisation of George Smiley and, through the inevitability of his plots, the grief of times, tradition and values lost.
Two weeks ago, I came out of a meeting with senior partners of a major accounting firm. Because of COVID, it was, of course, by Zoom.
It reminded me of an excerpt from The Honourable Schoolboy where Smiley is asked by his superior to justify the need for government funds to bankroll his undercover investigation in Hong Kong.
I was trying to sell a service to this firm. I received the most perfect dressing down, in the politest terms from one particular member of this group. He spent all his time insinuating his superiority and the lack of mine. The conversation could have been scripted by le Carré himself.
My books overwhelm the reader with the vulnerability of people who try to do the best they can. The little people in the cog who, for the most part are ignored as unworthy of attention. Yet are worth their weight in gold. Thus with Smiley.
All my stories deal with past values lost and a hankering for better days, for the past to be retrieved.
Call for the Dead- a fitting title for his eulogy.