No, it's not a put-on. Neither, alas, is it much fun once the story's out. Ian Fleming, it seems, wanted an ordinary sort of...



No, it's not a put-on. Neither, alas, is it much fun once the story's out. Ian Fleming, it seems, wanted an ordinary sort of name for 007; he had at hand (in Jamaica) Birds of the West Indies, ""by James Bond,"" the eminent Curator of Birds at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia; and so James Bond II was born--to plague the publicity-shy original. In answer to Mrs. Bond's quizzical reproof, Fleming readily acknowledged the appropriation; but the name that he diplomatically described to her as ""brief, unromantic and yet very masculine,"" he was later quoted as calling ""the dullest name I ever heard."" Worse, he said that she thanked him for making it famous! So he was chagrined and wary when one day ""Mr. and Mrs. James Bond"" announced themselves at Golden-eye. That delicious moment dissolves into bonhomie, however, once Fleming has assured himself that the Bonds aren't about to sue him; and, in a masterful retrieve, he opines that the real James Bond--a footloose field-naturalist until the two married in their fifties--has had adventures surpassing ""anything I've ever made my James Bond do."" Hence, in time, this volume--after an earlier account of (just) the pair's freak celebrity, How 007 Got His Name (published in England). What we have here, however, are 1) incidents--too unshaped to be called anecdotes--from ornithologist Bond's premarital specimen-collecting expeditions; and 2) recitations--overextended anecdotes--of the couple's joint, and occasionally out-of-joint, experiences. He was accustomed to improvising, she liked to make reservations; he wanted to linger and be certain, their fellow specimen-hunters were quick to give up and move on. Meanwhile, the real scientific ""adventure"" of Bond's life--his discovery that the birds of the West Indies were North American, not South American, in origin--is passed over. Toward the close, the confusion of names resurfaces--mildly (Mrs. Bond wangles a favor from an astounded movie magnate and rather enjoys the fuss when the two turn up in England). Devotees of Bond II might appreciate the double-takes, but admirers of Bond I--and even casual birders--will be disappointed.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1980


Page Count: -

Publisher: Sutter House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1980