Fantastic post, Jim
However, I think DMC genuinely kicks and will be that magic first book experience for many young fans.
Good point; we all come to Bond (the pretension of that statement overwhelms me) in a variety of different ways, but it would be extremely disappointing if someone were to start and stop with Devil May Care. Due to its immense success, I do hope new fans read further. First Bond I read was Nobody Lives Forever and it was that magic first book experience. On reflection it may not be a very good book at all, but it's the one Bond I have never re-read as I don't want it to disappoint me.
Devil May Care is decent Bond (if a bit too recognisably Bond, but that I suspect is the point) but very poor Faulks. In the long run, I suspect that it will rebound on him (I wish him no ill) more than on Bond. If the excuse is that he wrote it "as Ian Fleming" the final product isn't much of a compliment. He wrote it as Sebastian Faulks and that's where my disappointment lies. I had never read any other fiction by Gardner or Amis, or obviously Benson, before I read their Bond but, having read Faulks' other stuff, this could have been so much more distinctive. I set my expectations high for this one; wouldn't have done the same for someone unknown or less well-known and if Gardner or Benson had chucked this one out, I would probably be far more positive. It is, I agree, among the best of the continuation novels but the "as Ian Fleming" suggests not just continuation but equivalence - nope.
It was worth doing, and it's been done reasonably well and should sell well and ultimately we're fooling ourselves if we think this is anything other than commercial decision that has paid off spectacularly.
For most people (even here on CBn), Devil May Care will be the first Bond novel they have read. They will enjoy it - it is very definitely litBond but with some film tropes.
Devil May Care should steer some people to the literary Bond and if a fraction pick up, enjoy and devour Fleming (and Amis, Pearson, Gardner and Benson), then it will have been more than just a financial and literary success (yes, Groaniad readers love Faulks Fleming) but also a Bondian success.
As I still haven't been able to finish it, I refrain from final judgement about 'Devil May Care'. Well, it's still not a big secret that I felt decidedly underwhelmed by the part I've read so far. I will probably try to pick it up again and plow through it once I manage to get over my initial diappointment and forget about the ridiculous hype that came with DMC.
In my opinion there is absolutely nothing wrong with people liking DMC and if it really manages to bring new readers to lit Bond, this would be a tremendous success not just for lit Bond but likewise for the frenchise as a whole and in fact all of Bond-fandom. And, as far as I can see, DMC seems to really achieve this to a degree.
My private disappointment with DMC mainly stems from my own (ludicrously) high expectations I had in such a superb, talented fist-rate writer as Faulks taking on the challenge to write a Bond novel. I was expecting a really, really outstanding thriller that would be able to satisfy on the literary level as well as where sheer enjoyment and 'thrill' was concerned. I expected to get something like the square of 'You Only Live Twice' by someone like Greene or Ambler. Well, I didn't get it. As it is I'm probably slamming DMC most of all for what it could have been in my fantasy, but ultimately failed to be.
But I also have problems with DMC that I think can be justified with a certain amount of objectivity. For one thing, it could have done with a liberate degree of proof-reading it obviously didn't get by somebody more familiar with Bond. Some minor quirks could have been avoided oh so easily. And some major ones concerning plotting, contrieved dating, irritatingly numerous 'Bond-referencing' and the awkward 'character-dropping' with no real purpose might have been ironed-out had there been the proficiency of a seasoned editor at hand. An absence that I feel is sadly missed. I daresay that DMC, the way it was published, was largely done so because of the publicity hype that was created around it and the impact of Faulks' literate name behind it. Had it been found in this very form by some writer X on some Bond-fanfic forum, I doubt a serious publisher would have bothered to give it a second glance, let alone bring it to print. And that's my major problem with DMC. In German we have a word for lazily done work without much care or passion: hingerotzt
. And that's how I feel DMC has been done in the end. A mere whimsy, pulpy lump of paper that sells spectacularly but ultimately not real work
, not real writing
. Done with a casual shrug. And that's
what I take badly about DMC.