I have never been a great watcher of the James Bond films, although I don’t object much if one is on, and I hadn’t read any of Fleming’s novels until earlier this year, when I happened across Moonraker, and was enthralled by the description of the bridge-game in which Bond fleeces Drax of vast sums and Drax is shown to be the bad guy: no Englishman would cheat at cards, oh the horrors. Yes, I’m weird and nerdy like that; I like a good game of cards (my preference is whist).
So, having been won over by a thrilling game of bridge, when For Your Eyes Only happened across my path, I picked it up.
For Your Eyes Only is a collection of five short stories about James Bond, with the missions not really being matters of National Security: From a View to Kill, For Your Eyes Only, Quantum of Solace, Risico, and The Hildebrand Rarity.
I enjoyed all of the stories, even the relatively unexciting Quantum of Solace, in which Bond hears the story of a Colonial Civil Servant and his unhappy marriage to an air hostess. Never having seen the film, I would be very surprised if it bears even the slightest resemblance to the original story.
One of the things which I like about the Bond novels is that Fleming doesn’t waste words. There’s not a lot of flummery, and yet there’s just enough to set the scenes. I like that in a writer, because otherwise I just skip the vast paragraphs of largely unnecessary description. It’s a talent which so few modern writers seem to have, probably because it’s much easier to write reams if it’s done straight onto a computer. Perhaps if first drafts were always done in longhand first, it might discourage some of the doorstoppers…