I have known Tavis Smiley since the 1980s, when we both worked at the same radio station in Los Angeles. He is smart, and he is a gentleman who has accorded me great respect both on and off the air.
A lot of people use a smiley face when they write letters. But it's this huge insane compulsion, like 'I'm happy! I swear!' I'm not buying it.
I am drawn, as a reader, to detail-drenched stories about human lives affected as much by the internal as by the external, the kind of fiction that Jane Smiley nicely describes as 'first and foremost about how individuals fit, or don't fit, into their social worlds.'
The creation of George Smiley, the retired spy recalled to hunt for just such a high-ranking mole in 'Tinker, Tailor,' was extremely personal. I borrowed elements of people I admired and invested them in this mythical character. I'm such a fluent, specious person now, but I was an extremely awkward fellow in those days.