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I stopped reading Le Carre some time in the 1980s. I think I decided that Smiley's People was the last novel that captured an already vanishing era. By the 1980s, the USSR was collapsing. There's a reason they never invaded Poland as they had invaded Czechoslovakia and Hungary before. The only thing holding the USSR together was Reagan's military build up and inertia. It was hard to take Cold War spy novels seriously anymore.

I did read a few Charlie Muffin novels though, as an antidote. They were comic, or at least ironic. Charlie was a excellent spy, but no one took him seriously because of his working class background. The USSR, China, the Cold War were all just backdrops for the real struggle, workplace survival. I suppose this was my transition out of the genre. I'll particularly recommend the first book and the movie based on it, but the one set in China is pretty good too.

I haven't done spies in a long time. This may be because I know people who worked in the business, and the golden age of the spy thing seems to have been the 1960s. Still I did enjoy most of the Agence Hardy graphic novels which are set in the late 1940s and early 1950s, if only because they capture the time and place - generally Paris - so well. I also enjoyed that Melissa McCarthy movie. She was a hoot.

Sometimes art is of a time and place. It can be enjoyed in other contexts, but it had its day and its purpose. Years later, it can be appreciated again, but then it can only be enjoyed on different terms. I mean, McCarthy was hoot.

Bill Wolfe

"[I]s there a name for a book or movie that takes place at the same time with some of the same characters and tells a parallel story as another book or movie in the same series?" A "coinciquel"? A "simulquel"? A "parallelogram"? A "meanwhile"?

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