Jeremy Duns - whose debut novel Free Agent I'm reading at the moment - has an article in The Sunday Times today in which he recounts how spy fiction and the harsh reality of espionage and the Cold War have often been more closely connected that you might think. He highlights for example that Somerset Maugham had previously worked for British Intelligence. He makes a brief reference to writers like Deighton, Fleming and Le Carré.
In other news, the re-issuing of the Action Cook Book has received a lot of good write-ups...particularly from food writers, many of whom recall just what a phenomenon this book was when it came out in the sixties. In Saturday's Daily Mail there is a story by Tom Parker-Bowles in which he looks back at how Deighton combined changing the course of spy fiction with being a trained chef and a renowned gourmand in sixties SoHo. He provides comments from fellow food critics:
"'I love the book because of its brilliant design and because of all those classic recipes that I still adore,’ says Simon Hopkinson, author of another classic, Roast Chicken And Other Stories.
‘They’ll never go out of fashion.’
Food writer and broadcaster Matthew Fort agrees. ‘It arrived like a breath of fresh air, full of wit and humour and decent recipes. And it demystified cookery, too, with those wonderful strips, and transformed the life of the Sixties bachelor. The book was decades ahead of its time.’"
For most people, Len Deighton is still associated just with the spy novels, and 'Harry Palmer' in particular. The masterstroke of re-issuing first the Action Cook Book before the subsequent re-issuing of his best spy novels is that it reminds the book-buying public of how Deighton, in the sixties certainly, was justifiably renowned in two separate spheres of achievement.