“Little Andy, who was six foot four, was wearing jeans instead of his postman’s uniform.”
John Le Carré in Silverview
I make copious notes in the non-fiction books I read.
When I read a novel, however, I tend to highlight only one or two sentences – like the above.
I aspire to writing like this. In one sentence, there is humour and suspense. By telling us someone is wearing something unexpected, it raises our guard: something important is happening. And it seems effortless.
I found Silverview engrossing. I wasn’t sure who was doing what and why, were they a spy, were they a “baddie”? Looking back, nothing much happens, but the characters unfold as the story moves forward, they strengthen their relationships and a couple of locations stayed in my mind – not because of their description, but because of their significance in the plot and what happened within them. A good example of trusting your reader to conjure up images in their mind without giving them many words.
And then, in the Afterword, the cherry on top. The reason for why I “wasn’t sure who was doing what and why, were they a spy, were they a ‘baddie'”. A quick return to reality and a glimpse of the world created and inhabited by David John Moore Cornwell and not John Le Carré. A moment when a piece of fiction gains emotional value when you know the story of the person behind the work.
But I won’t spoil it here for you.
Read the book if you like Le Carré.
Or get in touch and ask me for the anecdote if you must know.