The English novelist William Boyd, of whom I'm a fan, has written the latest book in the James Bond saga. It's received mixed reviews, and it's not hard to understand why. Boyd seems to have ascribed to the character some of the pantywaisted, pussified attitudes that so characterise modern Western man. The thing about Bond is that he is a cruel, racist, sexist, and slightly mad character--much, much darker (and therefore more compelling) in the books than in the popular films. Boyd's Bond, it appears, follows in the footsteps of Hollywood's version. What a pity. Still, I'll probably buy it. Here's an excerpt from a review:
'Solo, set in 1969, begins promisingly enough, with plenty to satisfy Bond aficionados. By the end of chapter four, a suitably carnal Bond has already eyed up a beautiful woman in a catsuit that revealed "the full swell of her breasts" (and had a zip "that was crying out to be pulled down”), polished off a bottle of Chateau Batailley 1959 at the Dorchester and road-tested a Jensen Interceptor. He’s also had reason to use the lock pick he keeps hidden in his heel, meet Q, be briefed by a pipe-smoking M and told off by Miss Moneypenny. Oh yes, and he gets to say, "My name’s Bond, James Bond."
So far, so good.
Boyd clearly enjoyed writing these early scenes, relishing their authenticity, and they are huge fun to read. He is also keen to establish the character of his 45-year old Bond: highly sexed (his eye is immediately drawn to the “small-nippled breasts” of a girl in a Chelsea café, for example) but with none of the misogyny or cruelty of Fleming’s creation. In one telling scene, when he breaks into the catsuited woman’s house (she’s called Bryce, don’t ask), he watches her undress and is excited but "made vaguely uneasy by this unsought-for act of voyeurism". Fleming would have had no such qualms. Ditto a later scene, when Bond seems more concerned about saving starving children than completing his operation.'