A while back I gave a copy of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale to my father-in-law. It was one of those “the movie’s coming out, I wonder how the book is?” kinda gifts. Besides, who doesn’t like spy novels? I’ve read most of John Le Carré’s stuff quite happily. And since the Bond movie franchise is based on the Fleming novels, I thought I’d try reading one. So I borrowed it after he’d finished.
I made it 40 pages in. Bond was in France, getting ready to gamble against Le Chiffre. He’d met his contact. And he’d just met Miss Lynd, with whom he’d be working.
Naturally, this being a Bond novel, Miss Lynd was wearing a dress “of grey soie sauvage with a square-cut bodice, lasciviously tight across her fine breasts.”After Fleming spills about a page of ink describing how ravishing and well-appointed Miss Lynd is, there’s some stage business. Mathis (the contact) leaves, and Lynd warms up to Bond, who is now optimistic he can work with her. But then, this:
“As a woman, he wanted to sleep with her but only when the job had been done.”
If you’re wondering if Bond is actually a woman, that’s because Mr. Fleming has blundered into a dangling modifier.
Sigh. Anyhow, I was all hyped for Bond to win at roulette, bandy the fisticuffs, kiss Miss Lynd with abrasive lust-and-disdain (this being the sexist 50s and all), and pump … umm, lead with his the Walther PPK.
But alas, if Fleming’s writing is so lazy as to make mistakes like that, how am I to trust him when Bond’s life is on the line — or Miss Lynd’s garters?
Yes, well, you can forgive the old man all you want, since after all, it’s just once sentence. But if I read writing that careless, I can’t help but wonder if that same carelessness holds true for the story … if, sooner or later, Bond is going to shove his Walther down the front of his pressed gabardine trousers and accidentally shoot one of his nuts off. (Which, come to think of it, would make that earlier sentence a bit of foreshadowing, wouldn’t it?)
As a woman, he wanted to sleep with her He wanted her so badly, he was changing gender His desire for her brought out his feminine urges