The James Bond Project 2:Terror by Sea

Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming (Jonathan Cape, London, 1954) After being somewhat underwhelmed by James Bond’s debut in Casino Royale, I approached the second Fleming novel with trepidation.  I needn’t have worried.  Live and Let Die is a much better book and moves Bond out of his chintzy Edwardianism to present for the first time elements of 007-ness that we now recognise as hallmarks of the series. The plot is generally more robust.  It is still preposterous in its premise but at least that premise develops logically.  Its starting point is that the treasure trove of Black Morgan, the … Continue reading The James Bond Project 2:Terror by Sea

The James Bond Project 2: The Secret Agent

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (Jonathan Cape, London, 1953) Reading Casino Royale some sixty-three years after it was first published, your first impression is  that it has not aged well.  The James Bond we find in its pages is a product of the Edwardian attitudes and behaviours of his creator and consequently bears nothing but a fleeting resemblance to the representation we’re used to from even the earliest of the movies.   Secondly, you can’t help but notice how slight it is as a novel, with a predictable plot and largely one-dimensional characters.   It’s probably kindest and most useful to … Continue reading The James Bond Project 2: The Secret Agent

The James Bond Project

“The name’s Bond, James Bond.” When Sean Connery first uttered these words in the opening scenes of Dr. No, no-one could have known that the character he was playing would so penetrate the popular imagination that the movies would continue in an unbroken fifty-five year run and still be box-office gold. The cinematic incarnation of the world’s most famous and, ironically, most recognised spy has nevertheless had to adapt itself over twenty-six films and five and a half decades to survive the social mores of each successive generation of movie-goers, from the beefy sixties sex beast of Connery through Moore’s … Continue reading The James Bond Project

Books I Really Ought To Have Read By Now

Underworld by Don De Lillo   This book was a big deal when it was first published in 1997.  I can remember my then boss being very excited that she was going to have the whole of the Christmas holidays to immerse herself in it.  Trusting her taste, I added it to my TBR list and couldn’t believe my luck when I found it for a knockdown price in one of those wonderful remainder bookshops that used to pop up short term in the vacant premises of shopping centres. I brought home my prize and set it proudly on my bookcase.  … Continue reading Books I Really Ought To Have Read By Now

Visions and Revisions: Books I Really Ought to Have Read By Now

No.1:  Angela Carter:  The Magic Toyshop  I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’d never read any Angela Carter before I embarked on The Magic Toyshop last weekend.  Certain close friends and colleagues have, over the years, spoken of her with both admiration and reverence and the main reason I’m almost ashamed is because I may well have given the impression, to one or two people on a couple of occasions, that in fact I had not only read Carter but was familiar with several of her works. Why did I cultivate that falsehood? Because I consider myself to be well-read … Continue reading Visions and Revisions: Books I Really Ought to Have Read By Now

You Must Remember This…

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (Jonathan Cape, 2011) Once in a while, you come across a novel that expresses universal ideas with such perceptive clarity that it influences the way you view the world. And if that sounds pretentious, then you don’t read enough.  As Morrissey famously observed, there’s more to life than books, but not much more. Julian Barnes’ 2011 novel The Sense of an Ending is, at 150 pages, a relatively slight book yet its ideas resonate long after its final sentence has died away.  To attempt to sum the work up in a sentence is … Continue reading You Must Remember This…