After a briefly too-long period of agonizing over the matter, I’ve concluded that it’s impossible to artistically justify why we, at TLR, wanted to do a John le Carré issue, and nearly impossible to summarize how the magazine you’re reading is one. It all essentially comes down to the negligibly significant point that I happen to love reading John le Carré novels. They’re the literary equivalent of a great heist movie—sophisticated, set in the real world, overpopulated with anti-heroes who live or die by the puzzle. The intrigue, the treachery, the politics, the drinking and smoking, exotic locations, rambling plots, the spies, the double agents . . . none of which show up that often in literary magazines.
Obviously a literary magazine is an entirely different sort of project than a John le Carré novel, and one of the primary objectives of our project is to gather writers who specifically don’t sound like other writers. Which is to say that the farthest thing from our minds would be to publish a bunch of stories and poems that read just like John le Carré books. So to put this issue together we instead immersed ourselves in his sensibility and its component parts. We found plot-driven poems, narrators who are broken and gone dark, Eastern European cities, stories of betrayal, and many, many literary permutations of the double agent.
In other words, this issue is our tribute to a paragon and a different kind of genre-bending experiment.