Writer’s Desk: Ian Fleming on Sticking With It

Ian Fleming, who had a blast as a real spy for Her Majesty and then an even bigger blast writing about a made-up spy, was born today in 1908.

His James Bond novels weren’t the greatest pulp of the postwar era, but still generally smashing good fun (more so than the Sean Connery movies, that’s for sure). Even so, Fleming wasn’t a careless stylist; he worked at it.

According to Andrew Lycett’s Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond, Fleming once gave this advice on writing:

You will be constantly depressed by the progress of the opus and feel it is all nonsense and that nobody will be interested. Those are the moments when you must all the more obstinately stick to your schedule and do your daily stint . . . Don’t let anyone see the manuscript until you are very well on with it and above all don’t allow anything to interfere with your routine. Don’t worry about what you put in, it can always be cut on re-reading.

(h/t: Simon Read)

New in Books: ‘A Delicate Truth’

delicatetruth1John le Carré‘s 23rd novel, A Delicate Truth, is a tiring piece of work. Not that it’s not a perfectly good read, because it hums along at a swifter clip than some of the master’s classic older works. But it has a sense of moral outrage embedded in the scandal-espionage plotline, about a rogue mercenary operation that goes south, that feels just plain worn out by the modern world’s venality.

My review was published at PopMatters, here’s a bit of it:

Le Carré has long operated as a shadow Ian Fleming. For all the lone-man heroics of the Bond stories, with their (of late) painted-on world weariness, le Carré‘s men and women operated in murkier territories. They root about in cavernous bureaucracies where the deadly game of spying, information-trading, and executive actions are handled by committee meetings no more dramatic than a gathering of insurance sales executives. The only glamour came from the occasional grim satisfaction of a task well handled. In A Delicate Truth, there’s even less for the characters to hang on to, or readers. The world has gone foggy…

A Delicate Truth is currently on sale just about everywhere. Here’s an excerpt.