Writers' Ink at Caledon Public Library

Books That Count As Great

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Thanks to the magic of library I have just enjoyed the superb six-part BBC TV adaptation of ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy‘ that starred Alec Guinness, and so was delighted to encounter this month’s NY Times Sunday Book Review interview with spy novel author Olen Steinhauer:-

Q. “What’s the best spy novel you’ve ever read?

A. “I’d love to have an original answer here, but I always return to John le Carré’s ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.’ It’s a truly exquisite book, full of mesmerizing voices, acute social commentary and a moral weight that is, to me, on a par with the Great Books of English literature.

Q. “What books are currently on your night stand?”

A. “Let’s see – Lloyd Alexander’s ‘The Book of Three’ (a book I loved as a child and checked out from the library to influence my daughter’s tastes).


I came across Lloyd Alexander when my kids were young. His ‘Prydain’ stories that begin in ‘The Book of Three‘, along with the young adult series of Susan Cooper’s ‘The Dark Is Rising‘ and Alan Garner’s ‘The Moon of Gomrath’ and ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen‘, source the Brythionic Celtic past of Wales, Cornwall and Cheshire’s mysterious Alderley Edge. They are among the best from what was then a unique development, a mid C20th explosion of children’s tales based on lore from our pre-Saxon past, a first attempt to thrill our young people to the core myths of the long-ignored cultures that preceded our Anglo-Saxon national and overseas empire building. The Empire by that time was in steep decline, and this demanded we develop another national narrative. These 1960s writers remain unsurpassed both as storytellers and as sophisticated interpreters of the fundamentals of our ancient Celtic identity. For me their best novels count as among ‘the great books of English Children’s literature’.

by Ian Keith Anderson

About Alton Chapter

The Alton Chapter of Writers' Ink meets the 1st Wednesday of the month from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Alton Branch.

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This entry was posted on April 27, 2015 by in Alton Chapter and tagged , , , , .

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