Reading Journal Entry: Diamonds Are Forever, by Ian Fleming

My second Bond novel. Once again I'm astonished at the casual racism. I guess that's just the fifties for you.... But how can I say that after reading Another Country, published only five years later (1962)? I can't give Ian Fleming a pass. The weird part is that the racist stuff is dropped in out of nowhere, and prefaced by the comment "Bond had a natural affection for colored people". Whaaaa?

Fleming was obviously trying to deal with the issue of race (America was a new setting for Bond, I gather from context) but fails to address it an adult manner. Also critically neglected are the race issues in Africa, the wellspring of the diamond pipeline. We are introduced briefly to the white dentist who smuggles out diamonds obtained by the black miners, but this potential powderkeg is given the brush-off.

In fact, the whole Africa sub-plot which introduces the diamond pipeline weakens the book; I wish Fleming had just stuck Bond into 'the American mob' in some other way.

Fleming makes no pretense of trying to deal with homosexuality in an adult manner; he just calls a couple of the bad guys 'pansies' and leaves it at that.

Another strong anachronism was all the drinking. Bond drinks at breakfast lunch and dinner; there are cocktails before dinner and after dinner, not to mention the afternoon aperitif. He really knocks 'em back.

I was not impressed with Bond. The pacing is excellent: Bond is swept from one action-packed picturesque American locale to another at breakneck speed. But he does several risky things and mostly reacts to events as they occur to him. He doesn't even rescue himself. Tiffany Case, the hard-boiled criminal with a heart of runny golden yolk, is much more interesting.

In sum: watch the movie.

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