Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Art of Fiction 149 - John Le Carre

"That’s right. At that time I was very caught up in the cold war in Germany. I was stationed in Bonn, going to Berlin a lot, and that was the crucible of all that spy commerce in those days. One of my jobs at the embassy, one of my day jobs, you might say, was bringing over German dignitaries, introducing them to British politicians, and functioning as interpreter. I was sitting alone in London Airport, minding my own business, when a very rough-edged, kind of Trevor Howard figure, walked in and sat himself at the bar beside me. He fished in his pocket, put down a great handful of change in heaven-knows-which currencies and denominations, and then said, A large scotch. Between him and the barman, they just sorted out the money. He drank the scotch and left. I thought I picked up a very slight Irish accent. And that was really all, but there was a deadness in the face, and he looked, as we would have said in the spy world in those days, as if he’d had the hell posted out of him. It was the embodiment, suddenly, of somebody that I’d been looking for. It was he, and I never spoke to him, but he was my guy, Alec Leamas, and I knew he was going to die at the Berlin Wall. " 4 out of 5