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[BOND, JAMES]: alphabet, anatomy, [auto]biography
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Top Customer Reviews
In Michelle Disler’s hands, this icon is pulled apart not to tear him down, but to understand him better. And, by understanding what attracts us to Bond, we learn about ourselves. In her capable hands, Disler uses her poetic insight to help us reexamine Bond and ourselves in her collection, [Bond, James] alphabet, anatomy, [auto]biography.
The book, broken into the three sections listed in the subtitle, delves into Bond as much through Ian Fleming’s writing as the movies. Much of the poetry falls into the “found poetry” category as Disler nearly assaults us with Fleming’s writing. In “Cigarettes [Bond, James],” Disler gives us 11 pages of verbatim text mixed with her own commentary on Bond’s smoking. It opens with “James Bond lit a cigarette” 25 times. Shortly after that, we get “James Bond lit another cigarette” 35 times. The repetition is like a research paper overloaded with support and driving you into submission. You’ll never look at Bond light up again in the same way.
As seen in the poem mentioned above, Disler is not wedded to any poetical form. The collection includes poetry as a true and false quiz, algebraic formulas, and matching exercises. She writes poems in the format of a book index, fill-in-the-blank, and an “a-z” listing of bodily actions Bond does in the books (note: he shrugs his shoulders, a lot).Read more ›
The brilliance of this book is how illuminating it is despite how sparse and repetitious. There is little commentary, few detailed or garish images. Disler takes tropes, images and gestures from the Bond books, movies and iconography we watched and read again and again--the eroticized deaths, the smoking guns, the veiled innuendos--and catalogs them, lists them, juxtaposes them or recasts them in unfamiliar ways. She catalogs colors, images, objects, sex acts, mutterings, recurring phrases, killing methods, bluffs from the books and movies.
However, Bond, James is anything but a rehash of the franchise already in existence. Her book strips a figure and series so deeply entrenched in Western pop culture of its veneer. She cuts away the glitz and glamor, until Bond starts to look more neurotic than heroic, more sick than slick. It puts us in uncomfortable proximity to the body and brain of an unreal figure, who has become more than a fiction character, but a false promise of immortality, and a symbol of an impossible and grotesque masculine ideal.
In my mind, Bond, James does what all poetry should do: it stretches language's limits and subverts and complicates comfortable and simplistic notions and ideas we commonly hold. The book is both illuminating and cryptic, revealing and befuddling. It's difficult and fun all at once. One would think a book as obsessive in listing, repetition and attention to detail would be a bore or a chore to read, but I found Bond, James really enjoyable, occasionally funny and bizarrely riveting: much like its namesake.
This book takes a unique approach to James Bond as Ian Fleming envisioned. Through the use of poetry, quizzes, and lists, Dr. Disler examines the admirable and not-so-admirable aspects of 007. Contrary to how most people were introduced to Bond, Disler's work focuses on the novels, and in doing so exposes Fleming's original creation. The subject of poems range from descriptions of Bond's actions, values, and opinions to poems specifically addressing the character himself, asking the British agent why he behaves the way he does. With each poem that I read, I gained a greater appreciation for the complexity of his character, which is something the movies simplified. Although somewhat repetitive (and in a few cases confusing), this book nonetheless give the reader a greater insight on 007 as a person.
I also really enjoyed the quizzes and lists Dr. Disler came up with and incorporated into her book. After taking a look at some of the true/false and multiple choice pages, you realize that at times, there isn't necessarily 1 right answer. Several answers may be correct in certain situations. The point here is not to find the correct answer, but to better understand Bond's behavior as well as the language Fleming used to describe him.
As you can see from the title, the book is divided into 3 sections: alphabet, (which includes poems and lists that are titled by each letter of the alphabet) anatomy, (which focuses on lists of Bond's habits or Fleming's reoccuring descriptions in the novels) and [auto]biography (Dr. Disler's analysis of 2 scenes from the first Bond film, Dr. No).Read more ›