I am fortunate to have gotten this far in my life without having read John Le Carré. Fortunate in the sense that I now have the incomparable pleasure of reading “The Spy who Came In from the Cold” for the first time.

There is something wonderful about picking up a book and realizing that one is in the presence of a master. There is not a wasted sentence in this tale. Every page is taut, lean, uncertain. The world Le Carré paints is both deeply civilized and knife-edge dangerous, all at once. Small details matter, and events of great moment can pivot on subtleties of character. In short, this book takes my breath away.

I am about half way through now. Since the novel is completely irresistible, I know that I shall soon be finished, and that will be sad — like the prospect of finishing a delicious cake that you wish could last forever, even as you reach for the next greedy forkful. I wanted to write this while I was still in the midst of the experience, still living vicariously within Le Carré’s astonishing world.

The first time reading a great work is a moment of grace in one’s life — an experience that can never again be repeated. I know that in the head-long rush of things we often overlook such moments. I, for one, am savoring this one.

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