Wednesday, January 30, 2019

On my initial introduction to Ian Fleming's James Bond

This month, I read a book by Ian Fleming for the first time.

Happily, as it was unplanned, it was Casino Royale, Fleming’s first book to feature James Bond.

The book was darker than expected, more realistic and more than a bit misogynistic. Dark and brooding, Bond emerges as something of an anti-hero.

Until now, my only frame of reference for the Bond books were the movies, which were neither dark nor realistic. And Bond is portrayed more as a suave scamp than cold-hearted killer. The movies were misogynistic, but not to the degree found in the book.

By the mid-point in Casino Royale, (the book) Bond has successfully completed his mission.  What follows is completely unexpected — Bond is taken captive and brutally tortured.  He also discovers that a fellow spy, whom he hopes to marry, is a double agent.  

I had expected pop fiction. Instead, I discovered a dark, noir-ish, spy novel, that stands alongside books by Greene, Le Carre or Chandler. 

It’s awkward to read, but I’ll dismiss the misogyny as a product of its time. Also — I’ll need to read more Bond books to know — but it appears Fleming is using Bond’s betrayal by his lover as character development. I’ll know if, in future books, Bond is a cold, dispassionate killer, using women for sexual relief and never letting another woman, or anyone else for that matter, come to close. 

As for Casino Royale, as is generally the case,  the book is better than the movie.

Book read -- January
1.   Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens
2.   Voodoo River, Robert Crais
3.   Yossel, April 19, 1943, Joe Kubert
4.   Lie In The Dark, Dan Fesperman
5.   A Canticle For Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
6.   Flash, The Making of Weegee The Famous by Christopher Bonanos
7.   Neptune's Brood, Charles Stross
8.   Perish Twice, Robert B. Parker
9.   The League of Regrettable Sidekicks, Jon Morris
10. Casino Royale, Ian Fleming

Currently  Reading --
The Big Fella, Babe Ruth and the World He Created, Jane Leavy
Mrs. Palfrey At The Claremont, Elizabeth Taylor
Distrust That Particular Flavor, William Gibson

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