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Consumers give Pearson a kicking


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#1 Safari Suit

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 05:40 PM

I've always been under the impression that James Bond: The Authorised Biography was considered a bit of a rare gem by Bond fans. But browsing the title on Amazon.co.uk, I see that it's getting a bit of a kicking. Out of a megre four reviews, one is admittedly five star, but another gives it two and the remainder only two. The general conscensus is that it stayed out of print for many years for a reason:
http://www.amazon.co...nDateDescending

Do you agree with these views or are these reviews putting customers off a great Bond book?

#2 ACE

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 05:47 PM

It's a brilliant book, IMHO and a must for all fans of Fleming.
Very well written, detailed and evocative of the style of the original novels.
Even the Bond-was-reality conceit is clever and fun.
Ignore the critical concensus of Amazon and decide for yourself.
A lot of Bond fans I know love this book.

#3 Loomis

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 05:48 PM

Thread title of the year! :(

And I agree entirely with ACE's comments.

#4 [dark]

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 05:56 PM

There could be a few reasons for it. The biggest is that it's not a typical Bond novel. It's probably the least conventional in the entire canon, and Pearson, like Weinberg (whose Moneypenny Diaries have a similar conceit), takes far greater liberties with Fleming's characters (and with Fleming himself) than other continuation novelists.

The other curious thing is, in every bookstore I recently visited in London, I saw James Bond: The Authorised Biography Of 007 shelved in the non-fiction film and TV section alongside books on the cinematic Bond. Are people picking up Pearson's book expecting some kind of biographical look at Daniel Craig's or Roger Moore's Bond? Given the bland cover and its premise of being a bona fide biography, it's possible.

#5 golrush007

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 05:57 PM

I picked up a copy of the recent hardback reprint a little while back - hopefully I'll get round to reading it soon. I have a long list of books to read, and I'm not the most dedicated reader around. I did read the first few chapters, and I expect I will enjoy when I get round to reading it. I have heard a lot of good stuff about it, so I wouldn't pay too much attention to the negative opinions on Amazon.

#6 spynovelfan

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 06:51 PM

And I agree entirely with ACE's comments.


I thought you weren't entirely enamoured of the premise, Loomis?

I love it - absolutely superb piece of work.

The other curious thing is, in every bookstore I recently visited in London, I saw James Bond: The Authorised Biography Of 007 shelved in the non-fiction film and TV section alongside books on the cinematic Bond. Are people picking up Pearson's book expecting some kind of biographical look at Daniel Craig's or Roger Moore's Bond? Given the bland cover and its premise of being a bona fide biography, it's possible.


IFP even lists it as non-fiction on their website!

http://www.ianflemin...dBiography.aspx

#7 golrush007

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 07:28 PM

The other curious thing is, in every bookstore I recently visited in London, I saw James Bond: The Authorised Biography Of 007 shelved in the non-fiction film and TV section alongside books on the cinematic Bond. Are people picking up Pearson's book expecting some kind of biographical look at Daniel Craig's or Roger Moore's Bond?


I noticed a similar thing in a South African bookshop. I saw the Authorised Biography in the section of real life biographies, as if the book really is about a real James Bond. Just goes to show, a book's title can be deceptive. :(

Edited by golrush007, 12 January 2009 - 07:29 PM.


#8 Loomis

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 07:32 PM

And I agree entirely with ACE's comments.


I thought you weren't entirely enamoured of the premise, Loomis?


Well, it certainly has its flaws, but then again it also boasts more than enough moments of brilliance (and Fellmnigng™®©ALL DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL RIGHTS RESERVED) to render it a must for Bond fans and, by and large, a delightful piece of work. At any rate, by no means does Pearson deserve a consumer kicking.

#9 spynovelfan

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 07:34 PM

True. Shame he never wrote a straight-ahead no-nonsense one as well.

#10 Safari Suit

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 07:40 PM

Thread title of the year! :(


It was between that and "Joe Public gives Pearson a kicking". Glad I made the right choice.

The other curious thing is, in every bookstore I recently visited in London, I saw James Bond: The Authorised Biography Of 007 shelved in the non-fiction film and TV section alongside books on the cinematic Bond. Are people picking up Pearson's book expecting some kind of biographical look at Daniel Craig's or Roger Moore's Bond? Given the bland cover and its premise of being a bona fide biography, it's possible.


I've noticed this too.

I think the biographical approach may be one of the things which put people off. A biographical account of a well known fictional character may from a 2000s perspective seem a bit, well, fanboyish.

#11 [dark]

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 08:02 PM

A biographical account of a well known fictional character may from a 2000s perspective seem a bit, well, fanboyish.

Maybe if the book was marketed with a cover that befitted the era it was originally published, it might be a fairer representation of its content?

#12 Double-Oh Agent

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 06:23 AM

It's a brilliant book, IMHO and a must for all fans of Fleming.
Very well written, detailed and evocative of the style of the original novels.
Even the Bond-was-reality conceit is clever and fun.
Ignore the critical concensus of Amazon and decide for yourself.
A lot of Bond fans I know love this book.

I agree. It's well worth reading.

#13 clinkeroo

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 07:18 AM

I'll be the first voice of dissent. I found it a poor read and very un-Fleminglike. The sentences are short and choppy and the writing lacks any Fleming scope as a descriptive narrative. It purposefully contradicts the novels at many turns, and throws out the entirety of one novel. The character of Bond comes across as pompous and bored (and not bored in the "coiled spring" fashion of Fleming either.) The initial set-up takes far too long and the adventures that are described are more like fleshed-out, brief outlines than actual narratives, and the ending is cartoonish in execution and content.

There was a reason it has been hidden.

Pearson was a colleague of Fleming's, and the biography he did of the man himself is my favourite of all the books on Fleming, but I would only recommend this book to a Bond completest.

#14 David Schofield

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 09:18 AM

Even when you a finicky old bastard like me who hates anything that contradicts Fleming, I have to agree that this is a superbly written book, and the best written continutian along with Woods' Spy and CS.

Terrible shame Pearson never got round to writing a "proper" continuation.

#15 Loomis

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 12:01 PM

Thread title of the year! :)


It was between that and "Joe Public gives Pearson a kicking". Glad I made the right choice.

The other curious thing is, in every bookstore I recently visited in London, I saw James Bond: The Authorised Biography Of 007 shelved in the non-fiction film and TV section alongside books on the cinematic Bond. Are people picking up Pearson's book expecting some kind of biographical look at Daniel Craig's or Roger Moore's Bond? Given the bland cover and its premise of being a bona fide biography, it's possible.


I've noticed this too.


Same here. Why aren't bookshops getting the message that this book is a work of fiction? :) :(

#16 spynovelfan

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 12:09 PM

I'll be the first voice of dissent. I found it a poor read and very un-Fleminglike. The sentences are short and choppy and the writing lacks any Fleming scope as a descriptive narrative. It purposefully contradicts the novels at many turns, and throws out the entirety of one novel. The character of Bond comes across as pompous and bored (and not bored in the "coiled spring" fashion of Fleming either.) The initial set-up takes far too long and the adventures that are described are more like fleshed-out, brief outlines than actual narratives, and the ending is cartoonish in execution and content.

There was a reason it has been hidden.

Pearson was a colleague of Fleming's, and the biography he did of the man himself is my favourite of all the books on Fleming, but I would only recommend this book to a Bond completest.


Interesting counter-view. I don't remember the prose being short and choppy and found myself at numerous points revelling in how polished and crafted it was. Perhaps not akin to Fleming's style, but I felt it had a similar insider tone, for want of a better word: it breathed that it had been written by an extremely knowledgeable and cultured British upper middle-class broadsheet journalist of another era, and it seemed almost effortless. Your other criticisms are much broader, but I think mostly interlinked. The adventures are necessarily brief because of the premise, for instance, and I agree that that premise does show some strain at some points. It might have been much better off as a short story or novella, but I think he did nevertheless handled it beautifully. I didn't find Bond pompous at all, but in fact coiled, jaded, weary, and a mix of Ian Fleming and, well, a perfect imagining to my mind of what a 'real' James Bond might have been like.

Well, one man's meat... I love the whole premise of it, which many don't, and I think if you dislike that it is obviously going to be a harder read. I thought it far superior to any other continuation novel I've read (nota bene: I've not read them all yet! Bond police coming to get me, must hide...)

#17 Loomis

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 12:11 PM

I'll be the first voice of dissent. I found it a poor read and very un-Fleminglike. The sentences are short and choppy and the writing lacks any Fleming scope as a descriptive narrative. It purposefully contradicts the novels at many turns, and throws out the entirety of one novel. The character of Bond comes across as pompous and bored (and not bored in the "coiled spring" fashion of Fleming either.) The initial set-up takes far too long and the adventures that are described are more like fleshed-out, brief outlines than actual narratives, and the ending is cartoonish in execution and content.

There was a reason it has been hidden.


I totally agree with all that. One thing I don't like about Pearson's book is the forced comic contrast between Fleming's-Bond-in-Flashback and The Ageing, Semi-Retired Bond. The latter is painted as a bit too much of a figure of fun for my liking, and Honey comes across as a grotesque Bubbles Devere-style golddigger.

I air some other gripes on the following thread:

http://debrief.comma...p?showtopic=444

However, I also have some words of praise for the book. I've forgotten exactly what I liked about it, but I'm pretty sure I mention some good points in that thread. :(

At any rate, I wouldn't dismiss Pearson out of hand (unlike many - no, scratch that, most - of the continuation novels). When it's good....

#18 Mark_Hazard

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 10:24 PM

It's been quite a few years since I last read this book, but remember getting a lot of enjoyment out of it. I would agree with ACE and the others, read it.

And Loomis

Why aren't bookshops getting the message that this book is a work of fiction? :) :(


are you trying to tell me that James Bond 007 is not real??? ;) :D :)




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