Bond's Goodnight

Ian Fleming died on this day in 1964. Below, in the last paragraphs of The Man With the Golden Gun, thirteenth and last of the series, James Bond gives what he can to Mary Goodnight, the last of his women. Whether acting as helpful secretary or hopeful woman, Goodnight has just offered Bond a few weeks of recuperation at her rented villa — he could play bridge and golf, she could “cook and sew buttons on for you and so on”:

James Bond, in the full possession of his senses, with his eyes wide open, his feet flat on the linoleum floor, stuck his head blithely between the mink-lined jaws of the trap. He said, and meant it, "Goodnight. You're an angel. "At the same time, he knew, deep down, that love from Mary Goodnight, or from any other woman, was not enough for him. It would be like taking 'a room with a view.' For James Bond, the same view would always pall.



*** Thomas Mann died in Zurich on this day in 1955, aged eighty. Mann's last book, The Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man, provides an unexpected addition to the more famous, earlier works — The Magic Mountain, Doctor Faustus, and the other books which had earned a Nobel, and an international reputation for writing of philosophical and moral seriousness. Felix Krull is a smooth and charming cad in the Tom Jones-James Bond spirit, one who carries an appreciation of the well-turned phrase and a "natural instinct for good form" into all his encounters. One of these is with an older, mink-coated woman who fancies herself a writer of Thomas Mann’s earlier sort of books — "novels, you understand, full of psychological insight," she explains at one point. Felix sizes her up while escorting her in his elevator, and knocks on her door the moment he finishes his shift:

"Why, what’s this? A hotel employee, a domestic, a young man of the people comes into my room at this hour when I have already retired?"
"You expressed the wish, madame," I replied, approaching the bed.
"The wish? Did I so? You say 'the wish' and behave as though you meant the order a lady gives some minor servant, an elevator boy perhaps, but what you really mean in your unheard-of pertness, yes, shamelessness, is the longing, the hot, yearning desire....

 

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."