Superficially [Bond, James] is an exploration of the Bond character as he appears in Ian Fleming’s novels: rescuing girls, thwarting villains, escaping from dangerous situations, and smoking a ton of cigarettes. What’s fascinating and brilliant and great about the book, though, is that we get this exploration and some rumination on the masculinity it represents not in standard linear nonfiction prose but as a series of lists and games and experiments. This makes the book worth your entertainment dollar in a variety of ways: as an investigation of a popular icon/fictional character, as a look at what represented the summit of masculinity 1953-1965 and how the ideal is shored up through the use of women (and villains) as disposable props, and as a really stunning example of how brilliant innovative nonfiction can be when it’s not afraid to take a lot of risks.
And the book does take risks. Divided into the three sections of the subtitle, the text never offers a moment of scholarly distance but instead offers you a spread of cross-sections of Bond as character and as archetype. In the first section, alphabet, you get just that: an alphabet comprised mostly of lists of common people, objects and events in Bond’s world. For example D is for “Dislikes” and you get a two-page inventory of things like the following:
October 29th, 2012 / 12:00 pm