John le Carré is the pen name of David John Moore Cornwell, the British author of espionage novels, including The Spy Who Came in from the Cold; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Russia House; The Tailor of Panama; The Constant Gardener, and many others. He worked briefly for British intelligence, MI5 and MI6, in the 1950s and 1960s. As he tells on his website: “In the old days it was convenient to bill me as a spy turned writer. I was nothing of the kind. I am a writer who, when I was very young, spent a few ineffectual but extremely formative years in BritishRead More →

Don’t know about you, but I’ve been enjoying Little Dorrit on PBS the last few weeks. Reminded me of some lines from G.K. Chesterton (Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 1874–1936, author of the Father Brown mysteries, The Man Who Was Thursday, Orthodoxy, and The Everlasting Man, which had a big influence on C.S. Lewis, among others). Among Chesterton’s many works:  Charles Dickens: A Critical Study (1906). Here are a few bits by Chesterton (from Chapter 10) on the eccentric, outlandish, quirky characters of Dickens: The humble characters of Dickens do not amuse each other with epigrams; they amuse each other with themselves. The present that each manRead More →

There are several things that drive a novel’s fictional story from the first pages. Think of a story as a kind of journey, something with forward motion. If you think of the metaphor of an automobile, the plot of a story might be considered the engine, the motive power. But something is needed to propel a car: fuel. For a story, that should be the deep desires of the characters. You can have a perfectly decent story (a nice car). But it you don’t have the fuel of desire, it doesn’t really go anywhere. No means of propulsion. If the plot moves forward, it willRead More →

Hats off to the U.S. women’s soccer team that just pulled off an amazing 1-0 victory over Brazil to win gold in the Olympics! (And in the heart-stopping extra 30 minutes of overtime, no less.) Somehow, the Americans’ gutsy, swarming defense managed to thwart the powerful Brazilians, led by Marta whose control of the ball was very scary to watch if you were rooting for the U.S. I was afraid the Americans would get worn out chasing Marta and others whose seemed to be able to thread in and out of traffic with impunity. Brazil was on attack and kept the ball in the U.S.Read More →

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