Friday, August 20, 2010

Forgotten Books: CASINO ROYALE -- Ian Fleming

 Not a forgotten book, surely, but one that had a big influence on me when I was a college guy. I was an English major, happily reading lots of wonderful literary stuff (Hemingway, Faulkner, Shakespeare, you name it), while at the same time indulging my love of genre fiction by reading a good bit of SF. Then I read about John F. Kennedy's fondness for the work of Ian Fleming. I picked up a copy of Casino Royale, and my reading habits changed forever.

Who could resist a book "Replete with elegant, enigmatic women . . . explosions, torture and sudden death"? Certainly not me. From this one I went on to read other Fleming books, but I also discovered Alistair MacLean, Donald Hamilton, Len Deighton, and a host of others. Reading them led me to reading crime fiction by the truckload.

It's always interesting for me to speculate about how I got from there to here. I know for sure that one of the things that got me here was Casino Royale. So thanks, Mr. Fleming. And Mr. Bond, too.

The retitled edition pictured here, by the way, isn't the one I originally read. It's one I picked up later, and maybe the only one that refers to "Jimmy Bond."

17 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

It is hard to get across to people today how exciting these books were when they were first published.

bish8 said...

That's quite a collector's item you're showing off . . .

Bill Crider said...

Too true, Patti. Probably they'd bore the current crop of thriller readers.

Bish,it wasn't a collector's item when I bought it, but it was a good investment.

George said...

I've never seen that cover before. Nice!

Todd Mason said...

I certainly have never much cared for Fleming's novels, though after YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE I didn't try too hard with the others. Also was only lukewarm on his CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, while certainly better than the film, which I'd read as a child.

But, then, thanks to my seeking out horror fiction from a young age and my catholic reading tendencies, I'd found a lot of espionage fiction along with the Bond films I enjoyed as a kid (my father read sf, my mother was an EQMM subscriber for a while, and yet my first literary passion was horror. Splitting the difference.

Juri said...

YOU ASKED FOR IT is a great title.

Sidney said...

Interesting to see that cover art. I have a Bantam edition from the seventies. It's always fun to see whatartists do with Bond.

Fred Blosser said...

I seem to recall (without consulting IMDB to check) that in the 1968 CASINO ROYALE movie, "Jimmy Bond" was 007's hapless nephew, played by Woody Allen. He was one of two (or three?) fake Bonds recruited by M after the original 007 (David Niven) retired. Didn't the original U.S. paperback of MOONRAKER also have a different name?

Bill Crider said...

Moonraker became Too Hot to Handle.

Anders E said...

I read LIVE AND LET DIE -- which is the 2nd in the series -- not too long ago and unfortunately it turned out to be absolutely dreadful. Characterization and plot was basically non-existant, but what annoyed me even more was the appalling old-school racism towards African-Americans. FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is better, if nowhere great, and I remember GOLDFINGER to be a pretty decent entertainment.

Juri: YOU ASKED FOR IT sounds like a title James Hadley Chase might have used. Yes, a great title.

Oh, and the CASINO ROYALE movie boasts the best Bond song ever by far:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNQUxxiwRvc

Gerard said...

I just ran across this a few minutes ago: http://blackstoneaudioapps.com/2010/casino-royale-fleming/

Discussing Fleming's marriage and his wife who, "after he achieved superstardom in the sixties, she scoffed at his FabFour status, calling him 'ThunderBeatle.'"

Bill Crider said...

Thanks for the link; some interesting stuff there.

Evan Lewis said...

Nice. Never seen this cover. Wasn't 007 called "Jimmy Bond" in that TV pilot starring Barry Nelson?

Bill Crider said...

Probably was. I've never seen that one.

Todd Mason said...

Not so much a pilot I think, but I could be wrong, just an adaptation of CASINO ROYALE for an anthology series.

Since I'm just such a grump about others' favorite writers, I'll note that this is the anniveraary of HP Lovecraft's birth. He certainly encouraged and inspired some of my favorite writers, directly and indirectly.

Scott Parker said...

I am slowly going through the literary Bond. My pace is one a year because there are only so many original Fleming books. I'm up through Goldfinger now, having broken my rule and read it and Dr. No back to back. I really dig the Bond on the page. He is so human with human foibles and doubts. Plus he gets the crap beat out of him in almost every book. No quips, just brutal justice. The opening of GF has Bond morose about his recent kill. You don't see that on screen. And the Big Difference between the film version of DN and the book (not saying in case there are some who want to read it) is real entertaining. The Spy Who Loved Me is next for me. Dang fun books.

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