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The art of fiction: the return of 007

13 April 2012

9:07 AM

13 April 2012

9:07 AM

Bond is back. William Boyd has agreed to don the garb of Ian Fleming and write the latest tale in 007’s story.

Boyd will not be aping Fleming’s style. The recent franchise revivals by Sebastian Faulks and Jeffrey Deaver are singularly different to each other and
the original canon, while remaining faithful to the (anti-)hero in some fundamental way. They match the Bond film series in that regard. Daniel Craig, Sean Connery and Roger Moore could not be more
dissimilar in their depictions of the character, yet each is recognisably shaken not stirred. 

Deaver and Faulks wrote slightly psychological Bond thrillers — I can’t really remember where they were set. William Boyd is, as Daisy Dunn wrote yesterday, a writer who generates suspense through atmosphere and place as much as in the minds of his
characters. He used 20th Century London in Restless and Ordinary Thunderstorms as he used Vienna in
Waiting for Sunrise.

Perhaps that explains why Boyd is confident enough to return Bond to the Connery era, as it were, by opening the novel in 1969. (There is also a sentimental reason: he said yesterday that his
favourite Bond book is From Russia With Love,
a sign of the highest taste.) As for where the action will be set, did he give a clue at the recent Oxford Literary Festival? He said that he was working on a novel set in Africa. You could assume
that he was referring to the new Bond book, but with the prolific Boyd you can’t be sure. But I like the idea of Bond being blown around post-colonial Africa on the winds of change.

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