Friday, September 16, 2016

Biographer Adam Sisman: John le Carré And I Worked For Years On His biography. Why Is He Telling His Own Story 12 Months Later?

Adam Sisman, author of a biography of spy novelist Jon le Carre, offers a piece in the British newspaper the Guardian on why le Carre came out with a memoir only a year after the biography was published.

He’s trying to wrest back control of the agenda,” said my editor, on hearing the announcement that David Cornwell, aka John le Carré, was writing a memoir, only days before the publication of my John le Carré: The BiographySeveral people have suggested to me that to bring out such a memoir – The Pigeon Tunnel, published last week – within 12 months of the publication of my book is an “unhelpful” act on his part – even, perhaps, an unfriendly one.

A degree of disgruntlement on his part would not be surprising. Though my biography was written with my subject’s cooperation, it would be disingenuous to pretend that there was no strain between us during the four years I spent writing his life. I don’t think that I should have been doing my job properly if there hadn’t been: I saw it as my job to uncover the truth, however painful that might be. “I’m not sure how much more of this I can stand,” David said to me after one session. I can only imagine how hard it was for him to have a comparative stranger explore every room of his life, from attic to basement, to expose his mistakes and quarrels, and to probe his sore spots. “I think our continuing relationship is an achievement in itself,” David wrote to me in 2014. So it is only right that I should acknowledge his generosity, his tolerance and his continuing sense of humour. There were some tense moments during those four years, but there were also a lot of laughs. “I know it’s supposed to be warts and all,” he said to me at one point, “but so far as I can gather, it’s going to be all warts and no all.”
... The Pigeon Tunnel is subtitled “Stories from a Life”. Its introduction contains a passing reference to my book: “A recently published account of my life offers thumbnail versions of one or two of the stories, so it naturally pleases me to reclaim them as my own, tell them in my own voice, and invest them as best I can with my own feelings.” 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

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