Tonawanda News

Features

November 16, 2011

BOOK NOOK CLASSICS: ‘Casino Royale’ a good place to start with Bond

Every beer commercial these days wants to tell us what it means to be manly. Regardless of the twisted reasoning behind the marketing tactic, one brand seems way ahead of its competitors with its definition of “man,” now even parodied by local home improvement chain Valu.

The beer brand? Dos Equis. Their ads? A spitting image of James Bond filmed acting heroically, interjected with witty overdubbed one-liners and shots of attractive women. At the end of the ad they show the man drinking the beer, looking good.

Dos Equis has a lot of thanking to do, almost entirely to author Ian Fleming. Certainly, Fleming had no idea that when he penned the character James Bond for the first time in 1953’s “Casino Royale,” that not only would Bond go on to star in 13 more books, but that 50-some years later, his iconic character would grow in popularity to such a degree that advertising agencies would be using the basis behind him as a way to lure 21- to 35-year-olds to drink a specific brand of beer.

By now, it’s almost known as fact: There’s no better definition, no better example of the “perfect man” than 007. Take it from Raymond Chandler, famed author of novel “The Big Sleep,” and writer of the “Double Indemnity” screenplay: “Bond is what every man would like to be, and what every woman would like to have between her sheets.”

 So why not start at square one and get to know the coolness that is Bond from the beginning? That’s what “Casino Royale” is all about, substituting a little bit of the action for a little bit more background on the secret agent, in an attempt to set up future installments in the series.

 Don’t take that as fault, however. There’s a lot of neat stuff to learn. “Royale” fills us in on the specific recipe to Bond’s favorite drink, the complexities of working for a secret agency and the past cases that have solidified Bond as an agent worthy of being “licensed to kill.”

Even with all the fun background knowledge learned about Bond, there’s plenty enough gripping action to keep readers entertained. Explosions, murders, car chases and high stakes gambling are all mixed in for a ride that provides, chapter after chapter.

Admittedly, the last 50 to 60 pages drag on a bit. Well after the main action of the tale has wrapped up, author Fleming insists on giving us robust details into the relationship Bond has with the beautiful lady Vesper. After 100-plus pages of action/adventure, the last thing most readers crave is a drawn out, sad love tale. Give us one last awesome explosion or something, at least.

 Focusing on the bad makes it seem as though it outweighs the good, though, which it really doesn’t. “Casino Royale” delivers all it’s expected to, and even a bit more. The stakes are often high and exciting, the action is addicting and fun and the pages turn faster than expected. If you’re looking for some intellectual literature you can discuss with college grad students, this isn’t your stuff. If you’re looking for a little break that entertains and leaves you happily craving more, it’s going to be hard to find a better match.

 It’s easy to see a book like “Casino Royale” selling on the pulp fiction rack back in the day, being touted for its action and sexiness rather than its intelligence or elegant writing. But the fact that Penguin Books still publishes “Royale,” while its contemporaries fade into memory is a testimony to author Fleming’s skill and talent. No, there’s nothing life-changing here. There’s no literary experimentation. But what is here is a really well-written story, executed by an author who knows what he’s doing and will never let you down with a disappointing ride.

Hop on board the James Bond series. It’s one of the best roller coasters in town.

Dean Goranites publishes weekly video book reviews at www.unleashthis.tumblr.com, and can be reached through twitter at unleashingwords.

1
Text Only
Features
  • sig - critter companions RGB CRITTER COMPANIONS: Gardening with chickens

    There is no need to get mad as a wet hen if you want to juggle flourishing flower beds, viable vegetable gardens and free-range chickens.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - critter companions RGB CRITTER COMPANIONS: Let's unlabel our pets

    Several weeks ago, I mentioned how we should not use labels. I said that labels are circular, meaning that if we use them we just will end up where we started. An example of a label is saying that “all scarlet macaws are vindictive” or “all pit bulls are aggressive.”

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE Volunteers honored 1 040614.jpg Women Who Move the City (and beyond)

    April 7, 2014 2 Photos

  • SUN LIFE POUND 1040614j jpg.jpg Rock n' roll fitness

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - crib notes RGB Enough of this winter -- it's time for spring

    Midway through separating the bits of dog food from the shredded paper towel pieces on the saturated bed sheet that had been strewn across the dining-room table, I finally realized I’d had enough.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - critter companions RGB Dear readers, it's me, Kenny

    I have bad knees. I have been told to blame my grandmother. I have also been told to blame her for my love of animals. Today, we celebrate the 100th Critter Companions column.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE mummies 1 033014.jpg 'Mummies of the World' exhibit arrives in Buffalo

    As visitors arrived for the recent NCAA basketball tournament games in Buffalo, a much older group of visitors arrived via motorcade at the Buffalo Museum of Science — but these newcomers to the Queen City wouldn’t be seeking out a place to have a beer between games or where to find the region’s best chicken wings.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - double trouble RGB Years later, still spending sunny days on Sesame Street

    I always knew we’d hit “the Elmo years.”

    Going into parenthood, it seemed like a given. Both my husband and I  were “Sesame Street” fans from childhood ourselves, and we were happy enough to pass it on to a new generation. And we knew, having friends with children of the applicable age, that in this day and age “Sesame Street” equalled Elmo, the squeaky-voiced “furry red menace” (thus dubbed by Oscar the Grouch) of parents everywhere.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE Local Restaurant Week 2 033014.jpg Back for another bite

    As spring finally starts to unfold in Western New York, residents are likely eager to get out of their houses — and organizers of Local Restaurant Week hope they’ll consider eating out as they do that.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wineries invite visitors to take a Taste of the Trail

    If one weekend of food and wine pairings is a good thing, two weekends of food and wine pairings must be even better.

    For the first time, the Taste of the Trail event, which takes place Friday through April 6 and April 11 to 13 on the Niagara Wine Trail, will be split into two weekends, with half the trail’s wineries taking part the first weekend and half the second, said Elizabeth Maute, wine trail coordinator.

    March 31, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Facebook
Front page
NDN Video