Thursday, May 06, 2004

Ian Fleming, Casino Royale.

When I was a kid, I loved the idea of James Bond. I'd heard of him--and even seen a couple of the movies--and still wasn't allowed to take the books out of the library. Not their restriction: my mom's. She thought it wasn't yet age-appropriate material. Or so she always said: she never mentioned that they're poorly written, unexciting books, too.

Casino Royale is where Bond made his first appearance in print. It's a slow, plodding book--the first half deals with Bond trying to beat a Russian spy at Baccarat, and the second half is him recovering from being tortured--and setting up SMERSH as his future antagonistic agency. The entire book is a plodding exploration of the philosophy and psychology that Fleming creates to explain Bond. That is to say, the whole book sets up the rest. Whether they're better, substantially, is hard to say: the extensive descriptions that are so much a part of Fleming's style do not provide a background of excitement necessary to a spy/thriller novel, in my opinion.

Stick to the movies.

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