Two books about “the man”.
The Man I Think I Know is a novel by one of my most reliable, favourite authors. Mike Gayle always guarantees me a good, page turning read.
His books aren’t suspenseful thrillers, they are set in real life, everyday situations with strong relatable characters. This must be around his sixteenth book, and I’ve enjoyed them all.
Danny has no desire to work, but after losing his unemployment benefits he takes a job as a carer in a “residential care home”.
James was a successful, wealthy business man, just starting out on a political career when “the incident” undermined everything and left him completely dependent on his parents.
The two men meet when James enters the care home to give his parents a short break. Despite Danny’s denial, James is sure he knows him from their school years.
A growing friendship between the two leads each of them to come to terms with the tragic events that shaped the direction of their lives.
The Man With the Golden Touch by Sinclair McKay is a critical study of the James Bond films. McKay compares them to the Ian Fleming books upon which they were loosely based, as well as looking at the cultural context within which the films were created.
He not only writes about every Bond film released up to the time of publication, he compares/contrasts them with other spy fiction and films, some of which were a clear exploitative response to the success of Bond.
As someone who had read all of the Bond books by the time I reached my teens, I enjoyed reading someone else’s views on the character.
McKay’s initial Bond experiences were mostly through the films, where mine were through the books. By the time I’d read all of Fleming’s books and another, Colonel Sun, that Kingsley Amis wrote under the pseudonym Robert Markham, I’d only seen three of the films.
Dr No and From Russia With Love were the first, screened as a double feature at a local cinema when I was 10 or 11 years old. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was the other, seen a year or two later. I didn’t see any others until Live and Let Die on its first cinema release when I was in my mid teens. Those first three named are perhaps the closest adaptations of Fleming’s stories and they are the films I always liked best from the series.
Most of the other films merely used the book titles and had no resemblance to the original stories. McKay looks at the reasons for that, explaining the wisdom of it. The success of the films not only depended on those changes, but also ensured the ongoing viability of keeping the Fleming books in print.
As someone who grew up with Bond, this book had a significant nostalgic appeal, but also I enjoyed its wider journey into the spy fiction and films that inspired and was inspired by the success of Bond.