May 24th, 2009

Relax!  Grab a Book!

Book 13

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  1. Dodge, Jim — Fup (121 pages)
  2. Bauby, Jean-Dominique — The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly (114 pages)
  3. Fleming, Ian — Casino Royale (219 pages)

Page count: 3583.

Last year when Quantum of Solace came out, I decided I wanted both to watch all the Bond movies (I've probably watched most but not all, and I certainly don't remember much about any before the mid-80s) and read all the Fleming novels on which they were based. And best to start with the novels, I thought. So, I bought the box-set of the new editions (the ones with the really cool retro covers by Richie Fahey) at a bargain price, and only now, months later, have I gotten around to starting this project.

Casino Royale was better than I expected. I'm not (as you can tell from my reading lists over the past few years) an afficionado of the spy thriller genre, so I wasn't sure what exactly to expect. The novel was unsurprisingly plot-heavy and reeking of machismo. But Fleming proved adept at making Bond more than a stereotype, giving him depth and character, making him a real human being. This, moreso than the high-stakes card game, the car chase, the torture, the intrigue, or the romance, is what I enjoyed so much about Casino Royale.

This is where I make the inevitable movie comparison. I had no need to watch Casino Royale again, since I watched it just before watching Quantum of Solace last year. Reading Fleming's novel, I had to get used to a different James Bond than what has been portrayed iconically since Connery. If anything, though, I've come away from the novel impressed with how Daniel Craig got it spot on; his is the most authentic Bond. The Casino Royale movie stayed faithful to the Fleming's novel while changing a few details in the interests of updating the story. It was a great way to "reset" the Bond franchise, and I like the movie even more now having read the novel.

I look forward to the other books in the collection and then, when I'm done with the books, watching the movies in chronological order.

Relax!  Grab a Book!

Book 14

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  1. Dodge, Jim — Fup (121 pages)
  2. Bauby, Jean-Dominique — The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly (114 pages)
  3. Fleming, Ian — Casino Royale (219 pages)
  4. Blake, Quentin — Clown (30 pages)

Page count: 3613.

I ordered Quentin Blake's Clown using the giftcard I received for my birthday and had to wait three months for it to arrive. It was worth the wait.

This slim volume is worth ten times its weight in gold. Quentin Blake conveys so much through his illustrations that, really, words would have been superfluous. It's a wonderful story, and the little clown is so expressive. His sad face as he tries to tell others about his friends just breaks your heart. Yet he soldiers on, adversity after adversity. And at the end, a very happy ending, of course, I was all choked up and teary eyed and beaming.

Do yourself a favor: Find yourself a copy of Clown. And whenever you need a smile or a little pick-me-up, spend some time with this little clown. You'll be glad you did.