Pay no attention to the facsimiles of the writer that appear on talkshows, in newspaper interviews, and the like — they out not to have anything to do with what goes on between you, the reader, and the page you are reading, where an invisible hand has previously left some marks for you to decipher, much as one of John le Carré’s dead spies has left a water-logged shoe with a small packet in it for George Smiley.

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