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I'll Never Watch A Bond Flick Again
on October 2, 2003
Most of us have seen a James Bond movie at one time or another and enjoyed the outlandish antics in which he participates. However, upon getting my hands on this edition and finishing it in a matter of hours, the movies suddenly hold no appeal. I love the literary Bond! Sure, he's a lecherous alcoholic who smokes 60 cigarettes a day, but that's only during his downtime; when he's on the job, women and booze are secondary. And sure, it's vastly outdated, but the Cold War is still, by far, the best setting for an espionage thriller. The Bond in the novels is a cold cutomer who wouldn't hesitate to kill someone close to him to spare them a worse death (as in the latter part of Live And Let Die). Also, the literary Bond's body is a patchwork of scar tissue, and his handsome features are marred only by a scar on his right cheek.
That said, Fleming's style is great--short and to the point, much the same as his days writing reports during WWII during his stint in the military. His prose isnn't flowery, and it advances the story at a brisk pace.
Dr. No is an excellent turning point for both Fleming and Bond. Fleming killed Bond at the end of From Russia With Love (one report being that he'd tired of the character, but fans clammored for Bond's revival). The events of the previous novel are touched-on briefly in the beginning of the book, but they don't have much bearing on the rest of the story. However, the return of Quarrel (from Live And Let Die) and his loss greatly affects Bond, bringing a depth of character rarely explored by the celluloid Bonds.
Dr. No is a great read of the genre of its time, featuring a dashing secret agent hero, a capable sidekick, a beautiful seashell-hunting love interest, 5-inch tropical poisonous centipedes, flamethrowing dragons, sadistic henchmen, a giant squid (not in the movie!), and of course, Dr. No, the pincer-handed, ultra-rich, ultra-evil, guano-dealing nemesis! Who could ask for anything more?!