What are you reading?

15052545556

Comments

  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Christmas Jonestown
    Posts: 29,043
    Ludovico wrote: »
    Claudius the God by Robert Graves.

    Be careful so you don t get radicalized.
  • Posts: 11,290
    Ludovico wrote: »
    Claudius the God by Robert Graves.

    Be careful so you don t get radicalized.

    Not a chance : he's been dead for a while.
  • Lancaster007Lancaster007 Shrublands Health Clinic, England
    Posts: 1,831
    Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy 1944 by Max Hastings. Originally published in 1984 this is a recent hardback re-release which only cost me £4 at WHSmith (cover prices £25) so I had to get it!
    So far so good, but I think I prefer Anthony Beevor's more recent D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (published 2009) paperback edition from 2012, bought later than that though.
    Both of these books have exactly the same picture on the front cover!
    Both books well worth reading if you have an interest in WW2 or Operation Overlord in particular.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Christmas Jonestown
    Posts: 29,043
    ISIS UNVEILED (1877) by Helena P. Blavatsky

    and

    WOMEN (1978) by Charles Bukowski
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache.
    Posts: 12,214
    ISIS UNVEILED (1877) by Helena P. Blavatsky

    and

    WOMEN (1978) by Charles Bukowski

    ISIS and Women are not a good mix.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Christmas Jonestown
    Posts: 29,043
    You are wrong. The name has been hijacked.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache.
    Posts: 12,214
    You are wrong. The name has been hijacked.

    I know, it's an old term. It's just my silly joke!
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Christmas Jonestown
    Posts: 29,043
    AN OUTLINE OF THEOSOPHY by C. W. Leadbeter.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache.
    Posts: 12,214
    AN OUTLINE OF THEOSOPHY by C. W. Leadbeter.

    You must read very fast! It takes me an age sometimes.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Christmas Jonestown
    Posts: 29,043
    Not really, but I read every day. Usually alternating between two.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache.
    Posts: 12,214
    Not really, but I read every day. Usually alternating between two.

    I do too, but not always books. Usually researching something that I may or may not write-up!
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Christmas Jonestown
    Posts: 29,043
    MAN AND HIS BODIES (1896) by Annie Besant
  • Posts: 6,160
    The Yes tour book it is really interesting
  • edited July 24 Posts: 4,622
    Risico007 wrote: »
    The Yes tour book it is really interesting

    Which Yes tour book is this? A legendary prog-rock band to be sure!

    ==actually I am now reading a rock n' roll book,
    Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell With the Rolling Stones, by Robert Greenfield.

    "Recorded during the blazing hot summer of 1971 at Villa Nellcôte, Keith Richards's seaside mansion in southern France, Exile on Main Street has been hailed as one of the greatest rock records of all time. ... Google

    980x.jpg

    Greenfield knows his Stones. He was there!
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Christmas Jonestown
    Posts: 29,043
    USAs PRESIDENTER by Ole O. Moen.

    An extensive book about US history, and all the presidents, from Washington to Trump.
    74543a80-43ee-4077-a626-0e66fa26dfcb?fit=crop&h=1267&w=1900&s=61c5099a8e9f260efb69ae745f4c2bf3d9696daf
  • Posts: 6,160
    timmer wrote: »
    Risico007 wrote: »
    The Yes tour book it is really interesting

    Which Yes tour book is this? A legendary prog-rock band to be sure!

    ==actually I am now reading a rock n' roll book,
    Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell With the Rolling Stones, by Robert Greenfield.

    "Recorded during the blazing hot summer of 1971 at Villa Nellcôte, Keith Richards's seaside mansion in southern France, Exile on Main Street has been hailed as one of the greatest rock records of all time. ... Google

    980x.jpg

    Greenfield knows his Stones. He was there!

    The Yes 50th anniversary tour book it’s pretty interesting and while it definitely has the agenda of isn’t the current lineup amazing (which I agree with) it still is really good
  • Posts: 4,622
    @Risico_007
    Yes the current lineup isnt bad. I did like the Heaven And Earth album, although Squire was still with the band then, but Yes veteran Sherwood I think was a natural replacement.
    I saw him play with group in an earlier go round
    He fit right in with Howe, Squire and Anderson.
  • Posts: 925
    all the presidents, from Washington to Trump

    Proof of devolution.

  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache.
    Posts: 12,214
    Revelator wrote: »
    all the presidents, from Washington to Trump

    Proof of devolution.

    We have that in Northern Ireland. It really doesn't work too good here.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 15,667
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    DD's 2018 book reading

    BOOK 13

    THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN
    by Ian Fleming


    13_TMWTGG_IF_Cover_main-900x1405.jpg

    Ian Fleming passed away on 12 August 1964, just half a year after trying to complete his twelfth James Bond novel, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN. He was only 56. Chronic pain and a weak heart had prevented him from being the prolific typist he had once been. It should come as no surprise then that his final Bond novel would also be one of his shorter books. Fleming had furthermore been powerless to re-edit and polish his early drafts, something he was used to doing with strenuous resolve. Consequently, Fleming’s publisher sent his half-finished script to writer Kingsley Amis, who was left rather disenchanted after reading it. Amis pointed out errors and underexplored subtextual themes and furthermore felt underwhelmed by Scaramanga as the latest addition to the pantheon of grotesque and larger-than-life villains. Yet even Amis and the editor of the book failed to notice some narrative contradictions which were quite clearly the result of Fleming’s shortened attention span and less-than-usual daily output. Setups from a few pages ago can, after all, be more easily overlooked if the mind, whirling from agony and physical distress, isn’t fully committed. The book never really had much of a chance of being another great spy novel, of being authored in the tradition of the “novel to end all spy novels”, CASINO ROYALE, and so it failed to impress. And yet, it is the very first James Bond novel I can remember reading; and despite its apparent flaws, I quite clearly remember being left thrilled. Approaching the end of my Fleming “retrospective”, I’m not at all discouraged to start reading. [Note: I finished reading this book somewhere in February but haven’t found the time to revisit my review until now.] I select Barry’s THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN score and, somewhat reluctantly, Legrand’s NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN score--I really wanted to go through my entire catalogue of Bond scores, even the bad ones--and pull my trusted reading lamp close enough. I will read this book over the span of just one night, for maximum effect as it were.

    It’s been almost a year since Bond had disappeared off the political radar, having been severely injured in his final confrontation with Blofeld. Suffering from amnesia, Bond was well on his way to settling into a nondescript Japanese community, when a newspaper headline suddenly lured him to the Soviet Union in search for answers. Once there, Bond was caught and brainwashed. Now, with all hope gone of ever finding him, MI6 receives an unexpected phone call. A man claims to be James Bond. He’s back in London and wants to set up a meeting with M. His identity confirmed, M allows Bond to see him despite Moneypenny’s warning that something’s not quite right about the man. During the cross-examination, Bond pulls a cyanide pistol on M, clearly under the spell of Soviet re-programming. Fortunately, M is able to swiftly respond and bring down a glass shield for his protection. Bond is dragged away and M immediately evaluates 007 as a sick man and one who must be cured. M, whom we now learn is Admiral Sir Miles Messervy, isn’t ready to give up on Bond yet.

    While brainwashing, hints of premonitions, a high-tech mechanical deus ex machina, and an all-forgiving chief sound like the perfect cocktail for a Bond spoof, I am always extremely excited to read these first bits of the book. In fact, the first time I read these passages, I was caught with a look of hurt bewilderment on my face. It’s a very intense opener for sure, and one which transforms last novel’s melodramatic aftermath into a snowball and tosses it into the fire. Had Fleming regretted his cliffhanger ending of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, or had higher ambitions been replaced by less arduous alternatives? Imagine a young and energetic Fleming, taking an amnesic Bond to the next level; The Bond Identity if you want. Conservative fans like myself are probably satisfied that Fleming opted for this rather unfussy yet still quite thrilling way out. In almost every novel so far, Bond had always had a very good rapport with M. Twice already, M had dealt Bond the proverbial second chance, almost exposing a paternal trust in his best agent.

    By sending Bond into enemy land, only to have him come back ready to kill M, Fleming seemed interested in exploring Bond’s dark side. I have read essays which claim that this book’s central theme is drugs used as a political tool, but I disagree. I would rather submit that this book’s central theme is a Jungian exploration of Bond’s “shadow”, his “id”. Maybe the Russians didn’t so much indoctrinate Bond as they merely excavated his unconscious beast. Over the span of many decades, both the literary and cinematic Bond has had to swallow a lot of criticism aimed at the jolting contrast between his gentleman charms and his cold detachment as an assassin. Mightn’t it be that THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN tries to examine precisely how well Bond has that shadow side under control? Later in the novel, he’ll have the opportunity to kill Scaramanga, but ultimately doesn’t; yet despite displaying an otherwise clear mind, Bond has no compunction about taking M’s life. Then again, I might be reading too much into this, as some essays make his failure to kill Scaramanga out as one of the narrative flaws caused by Fleming’s illness. Whatever the case, the opener of this book, even with its indications of unintended pastiche, is a throat-grabber and remains one of my favorite opening sections of all the Fleming books. It’s astonishing that none of this has ever found its way into the final script for a film adaptation.

    Mulling over the entire situation, M finally decides to send a deprogrammed Bond to Jamaica. His mission is quite simple: kill Francisco "Pistols" Scaramanga. The latter, also known as “the man with the golden gun”, has assassinated several SIS agents and must be terminated. This seemingly impossible mission--Scaramanga is not going to be an eager target--will be Bond’s chance to prove himself as a 00 agent. Then again, so had his mission to investigate the disappearance of Strangways been and so had his mission to obtain information from the Japanese secret service been. This is the third time that M offers Bond a record cleaning opportunity rather than have him dismissed indefinitely. And like last time, the underlying idea is that this mission could prove a lot more challenging than one might surmise. To kill a man is one thing, to kill a man with many fingers in many pies down in Jamaica while himself an expert shooter and no-doubt constantly on the lookout for potential enemies is something else entirely. Granted, it doesn’t exactly sound like the most original plot in the series, but it’s Bond in his bare essence. Investigation? Winning at cards? Smuggling? No, he must simply kill a man. Whether he carries out his assignment successfully or not will ultimately determine his future with MI6. Raw murder rather than smart planning or clever deduction; again, Bond’s Jungian shadow will have to come to the foreground.

    Once more we travel to Fleming’s beloved Jamaica and knowing this is the author’s final novel, my heart is filled with melancholy and grief. But lo and behold, Bond finds Scaramanga in a brothel of all things! Having just performed the deed, the flamboyant Scaramanga makes his theatrical introduction with brutality and aggressiveness towards a few rather adorable birds. What kind of man celebrates his horizontal pleasures with the very hormonal screams they are supposed to silence? What kind of man cools his frustrations by shooting down pet animals in cold blood? I assert that Fleming, in his obsolete understanding of the subject at least, is trying to suggest that Scaramanga is actually gay and very much conflicted, resulting in heterosexual impotence and the need to take it out on much weaker targets. Kingsley Amis even went so far as to assume that Scaramanga is attracted to Bond, which may explain why he offers Bond to come work for him and why, on many occasions, he will allow Bond a few suspicious actions before finally satisfying himself that the man is indeed an enemy. Either way, if it hadn’t been spelled out by M and the book’s title that this is to be our main villain, one might actually have mistaken Scaramanga for a mere henchman rather than the big bad from this brutal yet somewhat insipid introduction.

    Still, Scaramanga is not just an assassin. Fleming, as well as the people making the loose 1974 film adaptation, realized that it would be for the best to make Scaramanga a little more than that, and so it turns out he’s actually part of a crime syndicate involving American gangsters as well as a KGB operative. Now working as Scaramanga’s assistant at some local resort and going by the name of Mark Hazard, Bond swiftly learns that this syndicate occupies itself with all sorts of schemes, one of which is to supply drugs to Rastafarians who, in return, help to undermine Western interests in the Caribbean's sugar industry. This has actually been equated to the plot of Fleming’s short story RISICO, in which drugs were also used as a tool to weaken the West. In fact, Scaramanga has himself been paralleled with Von Hammerstein, the villain in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. I’m not sure I’m willing to go that far since so little of that drug trade actually matters in this story. And we at least get to know Scaramanga a whole lot better than Von Hammerstein, who’s barely a character in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY and more like a sitting duck for Bond.

    We’re also happy to learn that the CIA is covertly shadowing Scaramanga too, at the same resort in fact. Felix Leiter makes his final appearance in this book alongside one Nick Nicholson. (Not a midget!) They have taps on Scaramanga and are willing to lend Bond some assistance. Fleming offers Bond his useful allies pretty quickly, removing much of the tension that could have been built otherwise. Knowing that Bond is technically not on his own also means he’s in much less danger than Fleming wants us to think when Bond is fumbling for answers during an interrogation by Scaramanga’s partners. The apparent danger of the mission now effectively truncated, I am surprised that Bond can meet yet another ally, and one even less likely than Leiter: Mary Goodnight! Bond’s attractive secretary was conveniently stationed in Kingston and decided to drop by once she’d caught hints of Bond’s presence in Jamaica. This is of course not a very smart thing to do; if James Bond is abroad, he’s also very likely conducting a mission and interfering with that might be hazardous to him as well as to her. But lest we forget, Bond hadn’t been too lucky with women so far, and perhaps it’s time for him to settle with one after all. Mary Goodnight is described as kind, compliant and beautiful, everything Fleming had resented in a Bond girl so far. Goodnight is neither troubled nor of a different sexual persuasion. She offers Bond no challenge whatsoever. Maybe, after a long list of difficult girls, Fleming was ready to pin Bond down to this lovely girl whom Bond himself describes as “an angel”.

    Amidst sweet team-ups with allies and potential love interests, some killing must still be done. Bond’s Mark Hazard will dodge accusations like a pro, arrange a very erotic session of “belly-licking” and pretend to believe the many lies spewing from Scaramanga’s mouth. And suddenly, the story shapes itself up for a quick finale. Scaramanga has caught Bond with Goodnight, and while there should be nothing wrong with this healthy man seeking solace in the arms of a willing woman, Scaramanga, spurred on by his associate Mr. Hendriks’s suspicions of Bond, decides the time has come to rid himself of “Mr. Hazard”. Or could it be that Amis’ assertion that Scaramanga is attracted to Bond is true and drives him to that fatal point of jealousy that almost invites a crime of passion rather than a clean murder to protect his enterprises? It’s also around this time that Fleming’s faltering concentration reveals itself through perhaps the biggest slip-up of the book. Bond finds a way to arrange Scaramanga’s gun to fire blank the next time he’d use it, yet in the following chapter, the gun releases all its ammunition perfectly. Even if Scaramanga had noticed the missing round, it wouldn’t have been a bad move if Fleming had told us.

    At last, Bond, Scaramanga and his associates take a small train for a ride down the swamplands, while the man with the golden gun is spinning out the final thread of his convoluted tapestry of deception. Bond understands that he’s got no way out, and when the naked body of a girl looking a lot like Goodnight is about to get crushed by the train, Bond, temporarily paralyzed by the horror of it all, has to come up with a solution fast. What follows, despite the lackluster middle section of the book, is an exciting climax which time and again manages to keep me glued to the paper. For Bond and Scaramanga, it becomes a battle between their darkest sides, between their “shadows”, because it’s clearly kill or be killed. Rarely ever before were Bond’s chances for survival so 50/50 as they are now. Le Chiffre was killed by others, Mr. Big was eaten by fish with an appetite, Drax exploded with the submarine targeted by the Moonraker, Dr. No never saw that load of bird dung coming, and so on; but in this climax, both Bond and Scaramanga stand an almost equal chance of killing the other one first. No hesitation, compassion or alternative modus of disarming the opponent are allowed. And I’m at the edge of my seat. The book may have been without fiber and vitamins for most of it, but the ending comes fast enough and delivers, albeit on a very small scale, all the goods. Should the final Fleming Bond adventure, if the author had come fully prepared for that of course, been grandiose and full of bombast and explosions? Not in my opinion. In many ways, the simple but well-crafted tension of this climax mirrors the torture scene of CASINO ROYALE, even if this book doesn’t hold a candle to that first and, to this day, still best of Fleming’s works. It’s in his own good tradition that Fleming shies away from “bigness” and that plays to good effect.

    The book ends in the hospital, where Bond is recovering from his wounds sustained during the final fight with Scaramanga and his partners. M lets him know that he might be knighted but Bond, not quite ready to give up his precious anonymity yet, declines. Instead, he contemplates a life with Mary Goodnight. Is she, at last, going to be the one; his Tracy and his Vesper, only less conspicuously tumbled into his life? Is Fleming working towards a place of rest and eternal happiness too? The final sentence of the book is a bit confusing in that respect. “For Bond, the same view would always pall.” No doubt Ian Fleming was smart enough a man to realize that his own end was near. I’m therefore left wondering if, in his most optimistic fantasies, he was actually planning more Bond novels. He had considered putting a full stop to Bond after FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE with a bit of an ambiguous ending suggesting Bond’s death but leaving the possibility of survival intact as well. There’s no such thing here, no dramatic punch like the ending of ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, no cliffhanger ending like in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. Fleming instead pulled all the action from the stage and left Bond with a typical but concluding thought. Perhaps Bond really has reached the end of the line as far as the author was concerned.

    It’s all over fast. THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN never does a lot of back-and-forth fighting; it never sets up major conflicts and neither does it introduce many complicated subplots which must all be carefully dealt with. It’s an uncomplicated book, working as a linear sequence of simple problems and quick solutions. Having read the final sentence of the book, I couldn’t help but snap my head around in the direction of my collection of Fleming books and think back, with some nostalgia, to all those vibrant and energetic adventures like GOLDFINGER, MOONRAKER and DR NO, high-concept and packed with dense prose. In comparison, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN feels like an afterthought, a respectable but fragmentary effort by an author whose spirit was in the right place but who would never be capable of finding those peaks ever again. The power that had burned so brightly inside was nothing but a dying ember of grey ash anymore. And yet, despite all these unflattering comments, I still consider myself a fan of this novel. If THE SPY WHO LOVED ME is the “ugly duckling” of the series, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN is most certainly the “underdog” of the series; and I like them both. While the former has always intrigued me as a failed but fascinating experiment, the latter provides some of the best character studies of Bond and kicks things off with an unexpected bang. The middle section of the book drags a bit, but since it’s neither protracted nor badly written, it doesn’t present much of a problem either. It serves as both the epilogue to a stunner of an opener and the prologue to an almost equally tense climax. In the film adaptation, Bond versus Scaramanga took place in the notorious funhouse, one of the only truly original merits of the film; I can see what they did there. I also understand the symmetrical positioning of both of the funhouse sequences. And I certainly understand that the rushed follow-up to the somewhat silly LIVE AND LET DIE could not begin with Bond trying to kill M. Still, I wish that someday, a Bond film will make use of the plot with which this book opens. It sounds like something out of a cartoon but put in the right hands, it could actually work.

    Put in the right hands… James Bond was definitely put in the right hands; Fleming’s hands. Though I have yet to review a second short story collection, this is technically the final novel in the Fleming series. Bond may still be alive and in fact, go on to have many more literary and cinematic adventures, but Ian Fleming won’t be joining him. THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN is where it ends for him. And it’s not a bad place to end things either. If Fleming had been able to type like he used to, and if he had managed to rework his drafts a few times, this book could have been a whole lot stronger. There’s great potential in here; it’s on the page and it’s there for anyone willing to forgive a man in pain for not being quite up to the task anymore. This may be the exceptional case where the book should be considered for what it could have been rather than for what it is. As a young boy, I found it just long and simple enough to get through; and I was very excited from start to finish. This book motivated me to keep on reading the Fleming novels at an age where reading a book was about the last thing I wanted to do. And I still am a fan of this book. My criticism of the middle section aside, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN is a book I always look forward to, knowing very well that has its flaws, but also that it will still provide many good things. To a Bond fan like myself, this book proves once again that Ian Fleming really was the man with the golden typewriter.

    Thank you, Ian.

    7,5/10

    DD's 2018 book ranking
    1) Casino Royale - 10/10
    2) On Her Majesty's Secret Service - 9.5/10
    3) Moonraker - 9.5/10
    4) From Russia With Love - 9/10
    5) Dr No - 8.5/10
    6) You Only Live Twice - 8/10
    7) The Spy Who Loved Me - 8/10
    8) Live And Let Die - 8/10
    9) Diamonds Are Forever - 7.5/10
    10) The Man With The Golden Gun - 7.5/10
    11) Goldfinger - 7/10
    12) For Your Eyes Only - 7/10
    13) Thunderball - 6.5/10

    Thanks for this detailed review. You put so much into it... wow.
  • Posts: 6,740
    Have now read all four Navarone books
    Guns of Navarone 9/10
    Force ten from Navarone 8/10
    Storm force from Navarone 6/10
    Thunderbolt from Navarone 7,5/10


    The first two by Alistair Maclean the master of adventure books and the last two late in the previous century by Sam Llewellyn, and they are actually quite good and nice continuation novels.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Christmas Jonestown
    Posts: 29,043
    THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF MAN (1909) by Annie Besant
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Christmas Jonestown
    Posts: 29,043
    MAN VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE (1902) by C. W. Leadbeter.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Christmas Jonestown
    Posts: 29,043
    REINCARNATION (1892) by Annie Besant
  • Posts: 925
    Further proof that Thunderfinger is a Necromancer in his spare time.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache.
    Posts: 12,214
    Revelator wrote: »
    Further proof that Thunderfinger is a Necromancer in his spare time.

    I always thought that was public knowledge!
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Christmas Jonestown
    Posts: 29,043
    ASTRAL PLANE (1894) by C. W. Leadbeter.
    maxresdefault.jpg
  • Lancaster007Lancaster007 Shrublands Health Clinic, England
    edited August 4 Posts: 1,831
    Gateway (1976) by Frederik Pohl. Golancz SF Masterworks. A Hugo and Nebula award-winner so hoping for a good read, only about 40 pages in but so far so good. Read the author's previous book Man Plus which was okay but hoping for better things with Gateway.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Christmas Jonestown
    Posts: 29,043
    A TEXTBOOK OF THEOSOPHY (1911) by C. W. Leadbeter
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Dancing at midnight under the BeBop Moon
    Posts: 10,545
    Lighten up, dear @Thunderfinger. I can suggest Jeeves and Wooster for any time. :)

    I am currently reading Lee Child's Jack Reacher in The Hard Way (for about the fifth time).
Sign In or Register to comment.