Murakami Sale

Reviews From


Wednesday, January 28th, 2004


Absolute Friends

by John le Carré

A Labor of ... Labor

A review by Adrienne Miller

The "absolute friends" of John LeCarré's labored new novel are Ted Mundy, a kindly son of a British Army officer and an Indian servant girl, a former leftist, then Cold War-era spy, and now in the rather comically diminished role of English-speaking tour guide at a Bavarian castle, and Sasha, a disabled and not-quite-as-kindly son of a Nazi, a radical, and former double-agent partner of Ted's. Sasha reenters Ted's life with an interesting bit of news: His services as a translator are required to correct some "misinformation" about the Iraq War. Ted, a do-gooder to the last, is determined to do good, thus setting in motion the book's final tragedy. LeCarré, alas, uses Sasha as his spokesman for his opinions (all of which are well-justified, but that's beside the point) about Western imperialism, and the poor guy is given dialogue such as, "As a first stage, we shall wipe the human slate clean. We shall detoxify the brain, cleanse it of prejudices, inhibitions and inherited appetites. We shall purge it of everything rotten...Americanism, greed, class, envy, racism, bourgeois sentimentality, hatred, aggression, superstition and the craving for property and power." What a shame it is to have to say that a book by a writer as subtle and probing as LeCarré is such a preachy and didactic bore.

Click here to subscribeSubscribe to Esquire and Save 75%

Get 12 fantastic issues of Esquire magazine for only $8. The best culture, entertainment, style, financial advice, women and more delivered right to your door every month ? at an incredible 81% savings off the newsstand price! What could be better... or easier?

Click here to subscribe now!

  • back to top
Follow us on...

Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at