I suppose you have to be a certain age to have read a lot of Ian Fleming. I went through every one of his James Bond books as a teenager, starting with Dr. No when I was about 13. I found the sex and violence and diabolical plots so intoxicating that I quickly located the first Bond book, Casino Royale, and read the rest of them in the order they were written. I may be one of the few James Bond fans who can honestly say he read each book in the series before seeing its corresponding movie.
The movies were mostly terrible and eventually devolved into self-parody, but I loved them too. Objectifying women, killing uniformed minions by the dozen, and outwitting all manner of exotic assassins, usually while wearing a tuxedo — just the sort of role model a teenage boy can unabashedly embrace.
I got to thinking about Bond after seeing this post by my friend Peter at Detectives Beyond Borders. He’s talking about John LeCarre, and “that golden era of international spying.” LeCarre’s spies, of course, were far more cerebral than Bond, and the conflicts they faced were far more ambiguous. Teenage boys are not big on ambiguity. I didn’t read LeCarre until much later in life.