Friday, July 13, 2007

Bond is Back!

So, I acted like a tart. And not for the first time. I blamed the weather. I blamed my lack of emails. I blamed work. The reality was that it had all been Gabby’s fault.

‘Look at this,’ she’d said over breakfast yesterday. She had her finger on an article in her copy of The Telegraph. It was about Sebastian Faulkes writing a new James Bond novel.

I skimmed the beginning of the piece, not particularly interested because – I’ll be quite honest – writing a new Bond novel was always something I’d wanted to do myself. I love the books in a way that I’ve ever really loved the films. When I’d heard that the Fleming estate had asked a ‘significant modern writer’ to pen a new adventure last year, I had expected it to be somebody in the tradition of Fleming. Freddie Forsyth would have been my number one choice, though I doubted if he could really catch the Fleming prose. That’s why I really hoped it might be John le Carre. The choice of Faulkes had come as a huge disappointment to me. I couldn’t think of a writer less suited to the honour.

I was about to make this point when Gabby jabbed her finger onto the page, pointing to a paragraph lower down:

Faulks, who finished the book in six weeks, said he was surprised to be picked for the task but was happy to follow the Bond style with exotic locations, glamorous women and larger-than-life villains.

‘Six weeks,’ she said. ‘Six weeks! If he can write book in six weeks, why, Chippy do you always take so long? It sometimes takes you months!’

What could I say? What answer could I give to satisfy my little Romanian slave driver? The question bothered me all day and accounted for my gloom.

Today, I’m feeling better. And why, I hear you ask, do you feel better, oh Chip Dale, our favourite Thonglateer? Well, I feel much chirpier because of the following picture.

The man on the left is the creator of James Bond. The man on the right. Well… He has a perm.

And that, when it comes down to it, is something we should all remember when talking about writers. Some of us are born to the thong, so to speak, and the rest of you struggle to fit into a pair of large sized underpants. In other words: try as much as you like but you’ll never be what you’re not.

The fact that Faulkes finished his novel in six weeks will have no bearing on my review of the book. I will judge it on its merits. But the fact that he felt compelled to reveal this little fact suggests that he appears to lack the due reverence for Fleming’s books. Perhaps he doesn’t see them as real literature. They are a bit of work to be brushed off as the indulgence of six weeks. Yet perhaps he is also admitting that he’s not Ian Fleming and never could be. He's playing a part, acting out a role, enjoying it as a game to be enjoyed before getting back to his 'proper' writing.

As everybody know, Fleming had been in Naval intelligence during the war. He wrote about a world he knew and finished the Bond books in hot exotic Jamaica, sitting at his desk, sipping martinis, and wearing nothing but a thong.


Internet Ronin said...

Glad you're back, Chip!

thongs for the memory said...

See a little shock to the system gets you going,fancy me calling you a tart ,a better way would be going onto a farm and ask farmer giles can you use his electric fence ,now that would keep you on track as well a melting your thong (if it's plastic ),please don't try the eht in your telly or using 240ac mains ,now they hurt.

Ms Baroque said...

I'll tell you something. I read Birdsong. What was I thinking?? The warning bell was a quote from, I think, Sue Gee on the back that said: "this is the (or was it a?) perfect novel" - it made me buy the book, actually, but not in the way it wanted to. But I thought, well, everybody likes this book, all my friends like it, and Sue Gee thinks it's even better than War & Peace!!! How bad can it be?

Answer: Dull. WET. Totally unbelievable. Earnest. Imbued with anachronistic, feel-good, middle-class, middle-brow, Guardian-reading sensibilities to the point of utter pointlessness. The whole thing is nauseatingly sentimental and reeks of research. That canary sequence in particular. In short, it's BAD.

He's no Ian Fleming. He's no Chippy Dale, in fact.

Mopsa said...

I sure hope it's a perm. If not...well, I hardly dare say. (Whisper it quietly - a number three works wonders).