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Thursday, 26 May 2011

THE COMPLETE LITERARY 007 - Carte Blanche (preview)

Ahh how times have changed - at one time I would have been standing outside my local bookshop on release day, probably shivering in the early summer rain. And if the book was highly sought after obtaining a first edition would have been a mission worthy of Mr Bonds himself. However by pre-ordering from Amazon the book arrived through my post box this morning. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but it's certainly an indication of the demise of the brick and mortar bookstore.

This has jumped to the top of my TBR pile so expect a review here soon as part of our complete literary James Bond series - we can backtrack on the remaining books later.

I'm excited to start this. The review in the London Evening Standard ended - Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sebastian Faulks are among those who have tried to bring Bond back to life. Deaver, though, is in a class of his own: nobody's done it better. Though how well informed the reviewer was is anyone's guess, since he seems to have overlooked the popular Bond author, Raymond Benson. And before anyone comments about Charley Higson, author of the young Bond books being included then note, they are fine if you want them but I refuse to accept them as 007 canon. I've got nothing against Mr Higson, indeed I've never read any of the Young Bond books and never will, as I tend to agree with John Gardner, a mean Bond author himself, when he said of the Young Bond books - ""It's just the last desperate attempt to draw in a new audience. The films have little to do with the Bond we used to know, and now the books are going the same way."

Let's hope that Carte Blanche takes us back to the true Bond universe.

According to the Guardian newspaper - The Bond of Carte Blanche is in his 30s, a former navy officer who saw frontline action in Afghanistan and was then recruited – not to MI6, but to a black-ops outfit called the "Overseas Development Group". Bond is still run by M and furnished with gadgets by "Q Branch". (Bond's mobile phone, in an excitingly modern way, has lots of espionage "apps".)

Bond is healthier, too: a "former smoker" (no more Balkan Sobranies, alas) who still likes the odd cocktail but also spends "at least an hour a day exercising and running.

Is Deaver's Bond worthy of Flemings Bond? The Archive will give its opinion soon.


Brian Drake said...

I have read the extract that, I believe, the Times printed. I stopped when I read the "former smoker" line. I'm sorry, but I can't get into a James Bond that's just another yuppie health nut. There's something about Bond and his vices that are appealing, though I *wish* he had been a cigar man instead (like Roger Moore!). I'm sure Deaver is a fine writer, and the book, within its own context, will be good, and I look forward to your review. But after reading the extract it just doesn't feel like Bond to me.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Brian I agree with you on the smoking issue. It is troubling when writers reinvent characters with values that are out of their usual timeline. The same thing happened with the BBC's Sherlock where they presented Holmes as having given up his pipe. Mind you that show turned out to be excellent. Does Daniel Craig smoke in the Bond movies? I'm not sure since I can't watch his Bond films for the reason that, good actor or not, he is terribly miscast. I guess the non smoking came from the Bond copyright holders rather than Deaver himself. I mean Bond could be killed at any moment so I doubt if he'd be that worries about his health. You are correct - Bond should smoke, drink and womanise as these are essential aspects of the character. Still I'm hoping for great things from the Deaver book. I, you will remember, loved Sebastian Faulks' effort and I do wish they had continued along these lines of the Bond adventures being set in the correct period. Still a 21st century Bond should be better than no Bond at all...or worse, a child James Bond.

Brian Drake said...

Bond hasn't smoked in the movies since... I can't remember when. Craig has never smoked, but he has put down many martinis! I think Dalton was the last one to smoke; I don't recall Moore smoking after the Man with the Golden Gun.

We live in odd times where we are liberated in some areas but restricted in others. Smoking and drinking are frowned upon while other activities are not; I get tired of the temperance committees and the nannies telling me what's bad for me and making fiction conform to their ideas, but I suppose the only thing one can do is create a new character who ignores those things.

Gardner had Bond cut back his smoking but that wasn't a big deal--even I need to cut back on my cigars. I smoke way too many and it gets expensive!

I have never seen your review of Devil May Care so I am going to have to search for it. What little I saw the Faulks' take on Bond I did not like, so I never read it.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Pierce smoked in the world is not enough, cigars though not cigarettes - not sure about his other ones though. Can't recall. The Faulks book was great - you should give it a try.