As a loose follow-up to my article in the Washington Independent Review of Books earlier in the week, I look more closely at one of those unfinished/previously unpublished books coming out for the first time this summer: Donald Westlake’s Forever and a Death, which I brought on vacation with me this past week. In the process, I also reflect briefly on reading James Bond novels at the beach in years past (many years past). Here’s a paragraph from my post today at SleuthSayers:
Before we get to that Westlake + Bond equation, I want to mention the Bond + beach equation. My family has had a home somewhere along North Carolina’s Crystal Coast for most of my life, and even the anticipation of reading a new Bond novel in this setting brought back several fond memories, since I discovered so many of Fleming’s original books at the beach and then too the subsequent series by John Gardner, who began writing his own Bond novels when I was in my early teens—perfect timing for me as a reader. I distinctly remember being in our house in Emerald Isle one weekend during the school year when I was supposed to be pushing through Homer’s Odyssey (at left is the cover of the W.H.D. Rouse translation we’d been assigned) and yet being drawn instead to Fleming’s Spy Who Loved Me, such an unusual and fascinating book in the series as anyone who’s read it knows. (As I recall, I balanced things out by rewarding myself with a little Bond for each section of Odysseus’s journey I pushed through. And thinking about it now, aren’t there many similarities between Odysseus’s travels and Bond’s own travails? Tempting Circe, the threatening Cyclops, twists and troubles at every turn of an international adventure.)
And in other news, thanks to the Virginia Center for the Book for including me as its #VAReads Writers of the Week this week! Check out that profile/interview here.