Thursday, April 17, 2008

Flawed Fleming

There's a media brouhaha on about James Bond at the moment because we're about to hit his creator's centenary. There's a big Bond exhibition on at the Imperial War museum launching this week, which in a place full of mementoes of real heroism and sacrifice features Daniel Craig's shirt from the remake of Casino Royale, complete with fake bloodstains.

As a teen I loved Ian Fleming's books but for all their pace and thrills they don't fit in with our politically correct world and I wonder how Sebastian Faulks, who's writing a new one, is going to make Bond relevant. Fleming had travelled and read widely which give his books a kind of man of the world effect. That's seductive if you're sixteen and your average holiday is spent in the Lake District.

Reading him now though, the prose feels close to dated self parody and a pretty chauvinist effort at that. I pick up Live and Let Die, his thirteenth and last Bond effort. James is operating in New York's Harlem district populated by 'negroes' many of whom are in fear of a 'grey faced' and all powerful 'Mr Big' who trades on the superstitious magic of 'voodoo'..

“Bond's nostrils flared slightly. He longed to get in there after him. He felt strong and compact and confident. The evening awaited him, to be opened and read, page by page, word by word.”


No comments: