Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Book Review

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming. 

I think everyone has heard of this. I do not think everyone knows who wrote this.

I think most people don't even know there is a book with this title. I think most people only know about the movie by the same name.

Well, I didn't read the book because of the fame of the movie. But that movie certainly does register a neuron or two.

I read this book because of the author.

Do you know this author?

I'm willing to bet a root beer that you don't. But I'll also guess that you know or have heard of almost all of the movies that have been made from his other books.

Movies like Casino Royale,  or Live and Let Die, or Moonraker. Have you got it yet? How about Diamonds are Forever? Or From Russia with Love?

Surely you've got it by now. You don't need the whole list.

Ian Fleming created the famous Bond. James Bond. 007.

Never heard of Fleming, eh? Yet you know Bond?

Well, I've read all fifteen of Fleming's James Bond stories. Read them. All of them. Have you read any of them?

Probably not.

You know why I think you haven't read them? Because you can't find these books in libraries or book stores any more. I know. I tried.

I had to resort to finding them on ebay. That's right. I had to buy the books on ebay in order to actually read them. Which I did, a number of years ago.

And then a couple of years after that, I loaned several of these Fleming/Bond books to a friend. And she read them.

And she just returned them to me a couple of weeks ago. And with them, she gave me a new book. She gave me the unauthorized, not-quite-sequel to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Unofficial and non-sequel because Fleming is dead. But this not-quite-sequel will have to be for another blog post, another time.

This not-quite-sequel reminded me that there was still one of Fleming's books I had not read. Time to take care of that.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

This is a children's book and is written in an old style of children's literature. Fleming wrote this while ill and failing after two heart attacks, and it was published two months after his death, at the age of 56, in 1964. But it is written in style more similar to what was being written for children near the turn of the century.

The writing style is meant to be approachable by children, but I found it rather annoying. The narrator speaks directly to the reader, assuming a very young audience. This is unnecessary and difficult for this adult reader to endure. Presumably, this style of writing for and to children was somewhat more common in years when Fleming was a child.

Fleming actually based this story on one he frequently told to his own young son as a bedtime story. And the story does have plot. Some might even call it suspenseful.

That's probably why it was first published as a series of cliffhangers. Later it was published as one complete story, in book form.

Maybe people are more familiar with the Broadway play or the movie. I haven't seen either.

I wish Fleming were still around to rewrite the same plot in a more modern style. I think that would have wide appeal, assuming a bit of updating of the technology were also done.

In any case, it was interesting to see what the creator of James Bond would do with a children's story. I think I need to see the movie and compare. It seems the movie has a reputation that precedes it. I'll have to see for myself.

If you are curious about this book and Fleming's attempt to appeal to a younger audience, give it a shot.

Just remember I warned you.

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