Brett Rants

Bond
James Bond

The books are different.

Welcome to My Personal Book Club

I enjoyed writing up the last book so much (or found it so useful as a cognitive exercise) that I thought I would do it again.

Enjoy!

Oh, also, spoilers abound!

LIVE AND LET DIE

JAMES BOND
LIVE AND LET DIE
BY IAN FLEMING
The evening awaited him, to be opened and read, page by page, word by word.

In front of his eyes, the rain came down in swift, slanting strokes - italic script across the unopened black cover that hid the secret hours that lay ahead.
You get the feeling Ian Fleming knows what is going to happen next.

Is it overly descriptive? Or does it have just enough description to allow the reader to fall into the moment and play along at home?

The story is conveniently improbably. But that's not getting on my nerves... at least, not yet.

A bit too heavy on the consumption of named brand booze for my tastes.

The female lead softly conforms, bringing looks, money, and psychic abilities to the table... along with love.

Um, Mr Bond is a deeper more relaxed sleeper than I would have expected, given his chosen line of work.

The book is very matter of fact with thinly painted details. It is odd where the vagueness appears. 'There were two or three all-night diners to choose from...' being the sort of sentence construction that rings of a lie... or an author making up the details to a story as he goes along.
There's a sedan, clouted heap I expect [Bond raised an eyebrow. 'Stolen car,' explained Lieter], grey, thought to have been a Buick, no lights, engine running, waiting on the highway opposite the centre of the train. Three men get out. Coloured. Probably negro. They walk slowly in line abreast along the grass verge between the road and the track. Two on the outside carry rippers - tommy-guns.
In the above, the bracketed section [] is indicative of a late edit... you know, to my eye. While the final clarification is closer in feel to how (in my so ever humble opinion) slang should be explained - you know, as in, clarified.1

    1: Of course, superscripts and footnotes would work... but they make for a clumsier manuscript.2

    2: Not to mention, a less linear reading experience, which is why I include these comments in-line rather than as true footnotes at the bottom of the page.

There are revolving trap doors and sharks! We have sharks! Sadly, all the munching and chewing is done off-screen.

The following has the action stripped away (replaced by ellipses). But I find it to be a poetic (and/or philosophical) acceptance of death.
Which is anyway their destiny, so why worry?

...

There's nothing to do about it. You start to die the moment you are born. The whole of life is cutting through the pack with death. So take it easy. Light a cigarette and be grateful you are still alive as you suck the smoke deep into your lungs. Your stars have already let you come quite a long way since you left your mother's womb and whimpered at the cold air of the world.

...

Don't lose faith in your stars.

...

It was just to remind you that being quick with a gun doesn't mean you're really tough. Just don't forget it. This <bit of success> comes courtesy of your stars. Better thank them.
Beyond bits of philosophy (as per above), we, also, have more materialistic concerns, as much of the book (or at least, here and there) reads like an advertisement for high-quality brand name goods.

But why was Bond a best seller? Why did he become a brand name all of his own? The book is simply not that good. But then, highly likely, nothing could be that good.

The place setting descriptions are written as if they were inspired by tourist brochures, naturalist guidebooks, or (gads) an encyclopedia entry. So, it provides the appearance of knowledge. But the knowledge may be no deeper than the words.

Serendipitously, Bond's stars are referenced again.
But Bond had gone out on the veranda and was gazing up at his stars.

...

The stars winked down their cryptic morse and he had no key to their cipher.
From a personal level (since I have keyed in to this text), it would be great fun if the novel ended with, yet another, star {gazing, referenced, or studded} moment.

Benzedrine Tablets! Bond does speed! Um, he's not much of a role model, is he?

And in other news, James Bond may be the only man who puts on a wet suit in order to walk across the bottom of the ocean. Maybe Ian Fleming does not know that much about scuba diving. Or maybe I do not know that much about limpet mines...

Bond is stupid... but lucky. Whereas his opponents are stupid... and unlucky.
"I will leave you now," he said {to Bond} "to reflect on the excellence of the method I have invented for your death..."
It's so evil, so sinister, I can almost hear the bad guy laughing evilly (all 'Mu-ha-ha!' like), as he walks out the door.

I'll give Ian Fleming this: his chase scenes are fun, exciting, I felt my pulse quicken, as I read the lines ever faster... culminating in a death scene of gruesome proportions, complete with data points that I can only assume are accurate.

In the end, though, Bond takes too much physical damage for the struggle to be believable. And just by-the-by, do you hate that complaint, does it seem to miss the point. Either way, it is a fact. Bond would have had to retire after this adventure, his body too damaged to ever be in peak physical condition again. But then, maybe I am thinking of a normal man and not Bond, James Bond.

There is a lot (and I mean a lot) of attention to food and drink. The novel closes at what might as well be a top end resort, with all the trimmings, including the luscious lady of the hour, you know, so one doesn't have to play Solitaire, all alone.

And if that doesn't make sense to you, take heed. The last line of the book doesn't make a lot of sense to me either.

I assume it's a pun or a back reference to something, but the intended cleverness is lost on me.

All in all, the story was fun enough, easy enough, not high minded, mind you, not complex, just a straightforward crime caper, with a little slang and the nitty-gritty thrown in for good measure. I'll read the next (as I already have it, got these two together for free, I'll have you know, as I get all my reading material for free these days), but I doubt I'll seek out anything further in the series.

Also, I should add, I read the first James Bond, Casino Royale a few years back (in conjunction with the movie) and I liked this one better. So maybe, like a fine wine, Bond improves with age. If that's true, I'm in for a treat, as For Your Eyes Only is the second to last Bond book, which isn't even a novel, but a collection of short stories.

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

JAMES BOND
FOR YOUR EYES ONLY
BY IAN FLEMING
Being a collection of five short stories.


From a View To a Kill

For Your Eyes Only

Quantum of Solace

Risico

The Hildebrand Rarity

Short Story End Notes

I liked the short stories best... or at this remove, having just read them, I will say that I liked them best.

Quantum of Solace may well have been the best... or least Bond like. Either way, it was nice and artsy. And it worked, which is more than I can say for The Hildebrand Rarity.

In Conclusion

I may (or may not) read further Bond Books if they fall into my lap. I have enough other books (several years worth and growing at my current rate of acquisition) that I cannot see searching out any specific book (let alone another Bond).

But back in the day, back in high school, I read many a book: one to three a week, depending. Which means, the Bond series would have lasted a month on the outside. And considering what else I was willing to read at the time, Bond would have made good grist for the mill: not too easy, not too hard, and straightforward enough that it can be read while passing notes to and fro in the back of algebra class.

Now, onto bigger and better things. Which is to say, the next book is exactly the type of book (not really; but then, it is Classic SF, so it's close enough to the type of book) I would have read back in the day.

Of course, I am sure I will post other things before I get to that. So, who knows what will (actually) come next.

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'Shaken! Not Stirred!'

Words spoken by Bond, not the once in these two books... and maybe not ever in any book Mr Ian Fleming ever wrote.

On the other hand, I do know that Bond prefers a double strung Champion spear gun for all of his underwater fish (and/or human) hunting needs.

© copyright 2018 Brett Paufler
Brett@Paufler.net