Live and Let Die (James Bond, #2) Live and Let Die discussion

Why do we read certain books?

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message 1: by Mike (new)

Mike Moore The idea behind this discussion is that reading a certain book may be motivated by reasons beyond personal enjoyment.

Let's take Ian Fleming's "Live and Let Die", for example.

Published in 1954, "Live and Let Die" is definetely a product of its time. On one level, it reads as a standard issue James Bond action adventure novel.

However....the challenge is trying to get past the predjudical ideas regarding people of color and women (for example, why is Mr. Big the only black person in the book who is portrayed as being intelligent and has an ability to formulate sentences that are not broken?).

As an African-American, that part makes "Live and Let Die" a tough read.

All of the above being said, this brings me back to my initial question: Why do we read certain books?

Well, I am proceeding with this one, because I signed up for a "James Bond Book Club" through Meetup.

I may have problems with this book, but, I like to hang out with the other members of this club. So...I read this not for personal satisfaction, per se, but to connect, to seek community.

P.S-On a lighter note...the Paul McCartney & Wings song goes through my mind every time I pick this book up....LOL

message 2: by Feliks (last edited Jun 11, 2013 10:05AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Feliks I hear what you're saying; but really, I'm against letting issues of 'datedness' take away the enjoyment of a good read. It seems a shame to do so. I try to appreciate a book for what it was when it was written ...rather than blame it for not being something which 'doesn't fit' a later date. We know Fleming had some oddball perceptions of colonialism, chauvinism, etc; and when you open one of his titles you accept that and pragmatically, set it all aside. He was writing for his timeperiod, not ours. We go to Fleming for a racy page-turner; not political sensitivity. I never ask Fleming for anything more than cheap thrills--if he effectively provides this, I have no other complaints. Such books can not be all things we need them to be and still be effective. I'm not sure a James Bond novel could be written at all, and at the same time, be written utterly in line with today's correct sensibilities. It rather has to be brutal and coarse, to function at all. And once I'm done with the read, I put it down and forget about it--I'm in no danger of retaining any of his views as valid. Its mere escapism, isn't it?

message 3: by Mark (last edited Jun 11, 2013 10:33PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mark When I read LALD for the first time I was not too bothered by the racial undertones, perhaps too young to understand it. LALD is a spy actioner that is very well written even if it is more than 50 years old, it does not fail to entertain. The views in the years this novel was written is by modern standards racist, but that is not what the book is about. It was looking for a baddie that was different from what was the norm.

I enjoy Flemings writing mostly due to his personal style and views of luxury and style he added to his thrillers. He is a very observant writer of the likes we do not have any more. Most of the Fleming Bond books lack a political view and based upon his oevre it might be possible to extrapolate one that would do a man that died before 1963 no credit. He was essentially a bread writer, who wanted a good live on his earnings. Perhaps he died too soon.
I prefer the Fleming books easily to the modern Bondmovies.

Feliks Good stuff, Mark. Yes I quite agree his books are filled with strong observation skills. As for his politics, I'd call them ..well, 'simplistic' rather than lacking altogether.

Your other remarks are well taken. I'd re-echo every one of them.

message 5: by Jay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jay Although full of racial slurs and stereotypes Mr Big remains one of my favorite bond bad guys who is up there with Goldfinger. I recommend read and discuss with a book club.

message 6: by Gary (last edited Aug 22, 2013 04:29PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gary Lots of people read for different reasons. Escapism is a perfectly valid reason. I read to escape from time to time. More often, however, I read as a kind of intellectual exercise.

Historical context is as valuable to me as plot, characters, dialogue or creativity. I'm not saying we should excuse the racial content of LaLD using the "it was a different time" argument. I'm saying history is intrinsically related to context, and context determines meaning and significance. If one is trying to recreate the mindset of the time when the book was written, which is really the best way to "experience" it, the racial components are vital to that context.

Without that aspect of the book, it becomes a sort of fantasy fiction. A 1950's world with spies, nationalism and political rivalries... but without racial tension. That would be strange.

message 7: by Feliks (last edited Aug 22, 2013 09:06PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Feliks If it was good enough for President John F. Kennedy, its good enough for me. I wish I had the pleasure of reading a book as great as this, for the first time, over again.

Separates the men from the whelps!

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