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 SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013

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CJB
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Mon Sep 30, 2013 4:27 pm

Largo's Shark wrote:
at one point he even has him donning a cream shirt with a pale blue knitted tie - unbelievable!
Unforgivable!

Anyway, a Bond novel given a positive review by Teh Grauniad should set off alarm bells for Fleming fans.
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Largo's Shark
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:08 pm

Robert McCrum in The Guardian wrote:
And all that's before, stepping into Fleming's shoes, the sorcerer's apprentice tackles the cheap, thrilling, glitzy vanity mirror of Fleming's prose. Enough said.
roll eyes
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:46 pm

Quote :
when he takes our hero to Washington, we are asked to believe that he is stupid enough to walk into the wrong neighbourhood (not too bright this Bond) and beats up three would be muggers in the most unbelievable fashion.


"Bronson. James Bronson."
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saint mark
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:02 pm

I have yet to read the book but it feels the Fleming gestapo is out in full force and denounce this new addition to the Bond literary inheritance.

I already expected this to happen anyhow, and when making fun and being critical of the new writers the excuses for Flemings shortcomings are flimsy at best.

Fleming was an okay writer whose creation would be a lot less read were it not for a series of succesfull movies. And even there have been big raging discussions which version is true to Fleming or simply the best. ANd with the coming of a new actor plaing 007 that will not change.

I hope we get a lot more books from accomplished writers like Boyd, Faulks & Deaver. Because they add to the series like the movies do, some better and some shyte. But I always look forward to a new addition and after the previous one am always up for a new adventure.
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:22 am

Largo's Shark wrote:
Has any brave soul here read the book?
I started it on Friday and am about two-thirds of the way through it.

No masterpiece but certainly a big improvement on DEVIL MAY CARE and CARTE BLANCHE.

It won't change your life but this is one of the few Bond continuation novels that I'd cite as worth picking up. It's quite a fun and interesting read. Boyd's Bond is off to a pretty decent start and I hope that Boyd will do a Mendes and come back for at least one more.
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:46 pm

Glad to hear you don't hate it, Loomis. I think we're both largely on the same page when it comes to the continuation novels.

SOLO doesn't come out for a few more weeks over here, but I'm looking forward to it.
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:02 am

I did read the book and this is my review, without any spoilers I believe. I gave it a two-star rating on Goodreads.

The book opens with a chapter where Bond looks back on the first time where he as a young soldier in the aftermath of the invasion in Normandy (1944)for the first time faces death. And is actually fine reading and shows a promise for the book.
Then 007 gets shipped of the Africa where he is supposed to end a civil war by taking out the leader of one of the parties involved. It all goes of course horrible wrong and Bond ends up being terrible hurt. The 2nd part of the book is Bond going "solo" on a one man mission to avenge his wounds and the awefull behaviour of a mercenary and his boss.

I really wanted to like this book due to some of the extreme critism I did read on some Bondfora, and re-adress the attitude that Fleming never did write as bad as Boyd did. And perhaps it would be honest to admit that while Boyd is a good writer he has shown with this novel that he lacks the writing skills to write a convincing 007 novel.

Knowing that mr. Boyds roots were in Africa I expected some of the brutality that would reign there in a civil conflict in an oil rich country. We get a rather boring travel through an African country in conflict. Having read the writings of the French novelist Gérard de Villiers I always admired his skill of writing about the geopolitical authenticity of conflicted and exotic places. And the post-colonial Africa would be the place to show us some insight. And while his stories of a Austrian prince hired by the CIA does often showcase ond-dimensional characters and gratious sexscenes they offer a lot of excitement as well. With Boyds vision of Africa we get some polished in my view political correct version of the place. It never gets very authentic or even exciting, and even the plot does not offer any clarity.

The villain is some former Rhodesian mercenary that has some nasty way of hanging dead soldiers on tree-branches like dead fish. ANd of course he has his facial handicap. So far Boyd ticks all the Fleming boxes, but he never gives the man any feeling of threathening menace. Jakobus Breed feels like a man who enjoys his sadist kicks but is a mer man that can be easily taken out. And Bond does eventually do just that. The big financier is a one dimensional character that comes nowhere to his right.

The Bond women are fine in this novel but fail to impress at any level, and nowhere you feel that Bond has any attachment with them. Even if the voyeuristic episode concerning one of them is easily the most exciting part written in the book.

This book is about Bond doing a job in post-colonial Africa where the big cooperations after all those declarations of independencies were scrambling like mad to get some lucreative contracts. And James Bond goes into that situation without any idea of view it is only in the aftermath you get an opinion on that matter in a talk between Leiter & Bond. For me Bond never walked so shallow into any affair/mission written by Fleming, Amis, Gardner, Benson, Faulks or Deaver. And in the aftermath it felt out of place and as some conservative fans said that it was amazing that the British paper "the Guardian" had a positive review so something must be wrong. The only questions Bond asked himself were not so much about the situation he was placed in and what his purpose might be, but about the attractiveness of his female companions. And untill the end of the book where Leiter pops us I kind of missed the male bonding Bond seems to have with male characters. these last Bondbooks written and are already called the celebrity trilogy are more interested in placing women in important roles based upon a certain equality. WHich is something that would be frowned upon by most in 1969 where this tale does plays, and it annoyed me for some time in thsi book.

William Boyd commented on Fleming that he has written some sexist and racist aspects in his books. Which is a fair thing to say if one is fameliar with Flemings books. But perhaps Boyd should have used some more edgier approuch to actually spice up this 007 story. It falls kind of flat and is sometimes a boring story that makes the reader frustrated with the lack of action. Instead we get another foodpornish episode which Boyd writes very well but are to much put in the novel instead of some straitgh action with some sadistic overtones.

As Bondnovel a failure for me, although it is quite an easy read. But of the celebrity trilogy it is sadly the worst of the three.

Perhaps the inheritors of the 007 literary could look into mr. Gérard de Villiers service to write a perhaps less PC version of 007. And the man has the skills and knowledge to make it more fun and real.
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:30 am

Harmsway wrote:
Glad to hear you don't hate it, Loomis. I think we're both largely on the same page when it comes to the continuation novels.
Yes, I think we are.

Harmsway wrote:
SOLO doesn't come out for a few more weeks over here, but I'm looking forward to it.
Well, keep your expectations grounded. Like I say, it won't change your life. Or even make your week. That said, I do find it to be something of a return to form for the literary Bond, and I guess it's about as good a continuation novel as we're likely to get.

Still, The Independent is reporting that, while SOLO sold 8,692 copies in its first week, this figure represents a drop of 48% relative to the first week sales of CARTE BLANCHE. The paper also notes that DEVIL MAY CARE shifted 44,093 copies in four days.

Have you read anything by Boyd, Harms?
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:10 am

Interesting idea, Saint Mark, though I can't see IFP going for a French novelist.

On the sales front, I wonder if the ebook sales would be interesting to look at. Quite a bit has changed there since 2008, ie a lot more people have iPads and Kindles. I read it from my lair on a Kindle.
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General Yuskovich
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:31 am

JeremyDuns wrote:
Interesting idea, Saint Mark, though I can't see IFP going for a French novelist.

On the sales front, I wonder if the ebook sales would be interesting to look at. Quite a bit has changed there since 2008, ie a lot more people have iPads and Kindles. I read it from my lair on a Kindle.
Interesting point there, Jeremy, that has thus far been overlooked, I think.

I'd be very interested in hearing your more in-depth views on Solo as a seasoned spynovel fan. smile 

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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:04 am

I don't hate SOLO so far. It's a bit bland in places (Boyd doesn't have the same same keen sense for the absurd that made Fleming such a delightful storyteller), but it's nevertheless fairly respectable (which is more than you can say for DEVIL MAY CARE or CARTE BLANCHE). I greatly enjoyed the opening section with an aged Bond celebrating his birthday.
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Fri Oct 11, 2013 1:29 pm

Harmsway wrote:
It's a bit bland in places
Indeed, and surprisingly so considering the ability of the author. Then again, I felt the same about DEVIL MAY CARE. There's the baffling sense that neither Boyd nor Faulks really brought his A game to Bond.

Still, reading SOLO inspired me to pick up DEVIL MAY CARE again. Guess what? DMC isn't nearly as bad as I'd remembered, and indeed compared to many (most?) of the continuation novels it's actually rather good. Faulks does come up with some memorable moments and descriptions, and he does conjure up place and time fairly vividly (if occasionally in an on-the-nose and gratuitous way, for instance with a reference to the Stones' drug bust in a conversation between Bond and May). And the characters - notably Gorner and Chagrin - are more colourful and, well, Flemingian than I'd previously thought.

So far so good, but the pace is somewhat sluggish and the story pretty uninteresting. I'm three chapters in and while I've quite enjoyed what I've read I don't really feel that there's all that much to be gained by reading any further (and I had that feeling even when I was reading DMC for the first time and thus didn't already know how it continues and ends). DMC also comes across at times as more of Bond parody than a Fleming pastiche, as though Faulks is trying too hard to get laughs.

Like I say, though, it's a better book than I'd remembered. And, really, DEVIL MAY CARE and SOLO aren't all that different. The latter reads much more like a sequel to the former than a followup to Fleming. But, hey, both books have their moments and more than a few of the other continuation novels are vastly worse.
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Tue Oct 29, 2013 9:43 am

Any new reviews? Haven't had the guts to purchase this yet, fearing the worst. Would rather buy Moz's autobio.
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Tue Oct 29, 2013 9:49 am

No. I'm hesitant, personal budget aside, to get it. I rarely buy a book new nowadays. I'll badger my local libraries.
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:03 am

Haven't been interested in jumping into it. I actually want to read the continuation novels first starting with COLONEL SUN, if I could find a copy here. All the Gardner books are available, it's just SUN that's out of print.
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:27 pm

Makeshift Python wrote:
Haven't been interested in jumping into it. I actually want to read the continuation novels first starting with COLONEL SUN, if I could find a copy here. All the Gardner books are available, it's just SUN that's out of print.

Plenty of copies on Amazon.
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:02 am

Largo's Shark wrote:
Any new reviews? Haven't had the guts to purchase this yet, fearing the worst. Would rather buy Moz's autobio.
If it's to be one or the other I'd definitely go for Moz's autobio if I were you.
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:07 pm

General Yuskovich wrote:
Makeshift Python wrote:
Haven't been interested in jumping into it. I actually want to read the continuation novels first starting with COLONEL SUN, if I could find a copy here. All the Gardner books are available, it's just SUN that's out of print.
Plenty of copies on Amazon.
Yes, but at ridiculous prices as a result of it being out of print. $25.05 for a used copy? I'll have to look elsewhere.
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:21 am

I didn't like Solo at all, I found the African section very slow. Mabey because I'm re-reading the
Fleming's at the moment It had a lot of competition from the master.  smile
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PostSubject: Re: SOLO by William Boyd ::: September 26, 2013   Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:39 am

Okay, here goes.

Solo is a strange mismatched beast of a novel. It wants to mimic and enter the world of Fleming, but always at a sort of irnoic postmodern distance. This is best seen in the extremely disjointed plot that is ripped into the African and US sections of the story. The opening on 007's birthday is easily by far and large the best portion of the novel and to be perfectly frank I would have loved and 100% preferred to have dropped the rest of the book altogether and simply stuck with this inner workings of Bond story. As soon as the main story is introduced it all starts to go downhill. Bond in war torn Africa, grappling with the political goals of British and other colonial interests  amidst human degradation in a sort of no man's land.

HOW DO YOU SCREW THAT UP?

Solo becomes a tedious journey of struggling to stay with this increasingly boring, senseless, confusing, muddled plot that in the end makes little to no sense. And the what happens you ask?

THE STORY ENDS UNRESOLVED.

But of course we're not even at a decent length yet. So what then occurs is a thinly planned Bond on unofficial rogue business for revenge plot in Washington D.C. Not only is this extremely frustrating due to a lack of properly staged motivation and narrative, but you really stop caring and just want the damn thing to end.
The virtual "second ending" of this book makes little to no sense and its lack of resolution makes even less sense.
Then we have the usual tag ending with Bond back at home in London, where he just gets some jitters and abandons a gorgeous and astoundingly receptive woman who I couldn't help picturing as a version of Hazel Court.

This book. I give up. What does it mean exactly? I have no honest idea, and i don't think it does either.

At least it wasn't Carte Blanche.
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