Sunday, 20 October 2013

A Delicate Truth by John Le Carre

On the second floor of a characterless hotel in the British Crown Colony of Gibraltar, a lithe, agile man in his late fifties restlessly paced his bedroom.

So this novel begins with an image and not a very interesting one. Sure, there's tension, as exhibited in the word "pacing". But does the act of pacing by itself elicit tension (of the type Humphrey Bogart made famous) in this day and age, like it did in bygone days?

Of course, there's more setting in this line than anything else, which is as it should be, because after all, it is an image. A characterless hotel. This does nothing for me. I googled "characterless hotel" and whatever came up still had some character. When I added "Gibraltar" to the search I got anything but characterless. Also, lithe + late fifties works, but agile + late fifties takes more mental prowess to imagine. Bottom line: even though there is an image here, it is a very characterless one.

Next line:

His very British features...

I wonder what that means? Ugly and pale? White? Big nose and ears? Mousy hair? Or are we referring to the very David Beckham British look? Lithe? Thankfully, the author explains a little: pleasant and honourable...So that's what it means to look British...Obviously someone forgot to tell Johnny Rotten and Simon Cowell.
First thing said:

characterless hotel?
"Can't have you wearing that, Paul darling, now can we?"

Verdict: Fail

Theodore Moracht

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