Monday, May 24, 2010

Remainder Table

I'm in Calgary on business and have time to duck into a local Cole's bookstore, before heading to the airport. I peruse the remainder table and consider a number of possibilities. Hmmmm. John Le Carre, A Most Wanted Man. Okay, I've read a number of his books over the years; hasn't he won some awards? The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a classic, isn't it? Usually his books are downers, but, nevertheless intriguing. I vaguely remember something about one of his recent books but I decide that CAD $6.99 was worth the risk (plus a CAD $2.00 chick lit paperback that Rita might enjoy).

I start reading in the terminal, then continue on the planes from Calgary to Salt Lake and Salt Lake to Denver. A few more pages at home and... POW! I remember, vaguely now. Le Carre must hate Americans, virulently.

So, I go to search: Bing first, then Google. Aha! Here it is, John Miller's brief citation of a review of this very book (my emphasis):

A Most Unwanted Man 
John Le Carré may be a fine novelist, but he's so anti-American that even NPR felt compelled to ask him about it in a recent interview. (Le Carré shrugged it off.) Here's the final graf in Jonathan Yardley's review of Le Carré's new book, A Most Wanted Man:
The anti-American note struck there is not new to le Carré — it has coursed through his work much as it did in the fiction of Graham Greene — but it is expressed in A Most Wanted Man with special virulence. No doubt this reflects the author's opposition to innumerable aspects of recent American foreign policy, but he seems neither to know nor to care that many Americans share that opposition. The CIA people who crash onto the scene at the end are mere cartoons. Le Carré, who is capable of great subtlety and nuance, here is all bludgeon and righteous anger. It is not pretty to watch, and it diminishes him.

10/09 03:04 PM
The book was a disappointment, not only because of its explicitly anti-"neoconservative" tone, but the shallow picture it painted of shadowy American "agents," what Yardley calls "mere cartoons." The irony is that the CIA is not composed of "neoconservatives"; what is Valerie Plame? Who are those who leaked so much negative publicity against the Bushies and approved the publication of "tell-almost-all" books?

Le Carre (David Cornwell) paints fascinating and sympathetic portraits of his principal characters, even the German spooks, and then defaces them with less than two-dimensional figures. Who hates whom?

What is the royalty an author gets from the remainder table?

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