I’m about 65% of the way through “Dr. No”, which I started on a whim after someone on Reddit mentioned it and… it’s a thing. The first set of Bond books had some of that good-old fashioned 50s racism– outdated terms and descriptions, but I never saw them as ‘racist’, per se. Fleming used the polite terms of the day, which clang today, but at the time, they were ‘correct’, and his non-white characters were largely background figures. Not perfect, but for action novels by an uptight British dude in the early fifties, they were fine. At least for me.
However, I was raised by a generation that told me racism was wrong, and also taught me a lot of racist jokes– there’s a lot of complexities here, and “the polite terms of the day” are “the shoe on the neck” for some folk, and I’m stepping into a goddamned minefield of things I am ill qualified to speak on.
I can, however, say that “Dr. No” steps over the line, and is just racist. I was gonna write some more about it, but every draft I coughed up was so filled with tap dancing that I was afraid I’d be recruited for some sort of off-broadway show. So, I will just leave it at that.
It’s a shame, as in a way, it’s one of the better Bond books– if you took the racist shit out of it, it’s got it all; action, adventure, exotic settings. We see Bond actually investigate shit, and there’s a nice little bit of tension between Bond and the agency he works for, and some subtext about his resentment towards it. He’s a civil servant who kills.
I’ll finish it, but it’s gonna leave a fairly bad taste in my mouth.
I am about 25% of the way through Jon Fosse’s “The Other Name” , and it’s quite beautiful, sad, and moving. Fosse has made me think about my own religious leanings in a way I haven’t in some time. I doubt he’s gonna change my mind at this point, but it’s a thoughtful work thus far, and I’ve been gathering my thoughts as I go.