What if James Bond didn’t have to save the world and instead ended up saddled with a wife

What if James Bond didn’t have to save the world and instead ended up saddled with a wife

Literary licence to thrill

Jesus Christ and James Bond.

Jesus Christ and James Bond.

It’s hard to imagine much — if any — commonality between the Christian Son of God and Ian Fleming’s fictional philandering super spy.

But trust Red Deer author Kimmy Beach — who’s already known for her idiosyncratic books of poetry and prose on James Cagney and Paul McCartney — to see a link and run with it.

For her latest literary undertaking, The Last Temptation of Bond, published by the University of Alberta Press, Beach drew inspiration from two of her favourite, albeit wildly divergent, indulgences.

She attempts a mash-up of the entire catalogue of James Bond movies going back to the early 1960s and Nikos Kazantzakis’ controversial novel The Last Temptation of Christ, in which Jesus is given the choice of stepping down from the cross and not sacrificing his life for the rest of us.

Given that both Christ and Bond are essentially immortal and on a mission to save the world, Beach said she began thinking, what if Bond was given the same choice as Kazantzakis’ Jesus? “What if he didn’t have to save the world and instead you could give him a desk job?”

While her Bond starts out as the suave, martini-sipping, womanizing, bullet-dispensing spy of popular culture, he ends up saddled with a wife and three kids, working in accounts-receivable for Universal Exports (the fictional import-export company which acts as a cover for the British Secret Service in Fleming’s books).

Essentially Beach takes away the main thing that’s made Bond films international hits for five decades — the vicarious jolt of escapist adventure they provide to our ho-hum lives.

So how does Bond cope with this smothering dose of reality? Predictably, he hates it, said Beach, with a laugh.

Readers will have to peruse The Last Temptation of Bond, an imaginative pastiche of poetry, prose and playwriting, to see whether the one-time spy gets his action-packed life back.

This is hardly Beach’s first fanciful take on pop culture. She has also written Nice Day for Murder: poems for James Cagney, Alarum Within: theatre poems, fake Paul (about a stalking search for the “real” Paul McCartney), and in Cars, about her love for cars and roller rinks while growing up in the West.

Beach said she will be forever inspired by Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, which retells the outlaw’s tale through different poetic viewpoints.

The revisionist genre she began contributing to with her first James Cagney-inspired work 12 years ago is now burgeoning in bookstores with Jane Austen heroines encountering zombies and vampires. “I haven’t read any of (these books), but I know a couple of Jane Austen fans who think they’re fantastic and really funny,” said Beach, who believes any time pop culture is mixed with literature it’s a chance to turn more people on to the literary originals.

She hopes her Bond book will spur the same interest in Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation of Christ.

For the record, the Red Deer author started her latest work five years ago, with no idea it would be finished in time to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Bond. “There was no attempt to cash in.”

The University of Alberta graduate, who has worked as a writer, editor and mentor for the last 20 years, said she’s been a big fan of Fleming’s spy since seeing her first James Bond movie in Paris in 1983 when she was 18.

She soon realized she was slow on the uptake, having missed 20-odd years of previous Bond films, but Beach has since dived into the genre that she appreciates for its tongue-in-cheek humour, irreverence and plain “silliness.”

Although the latest movie Bond, actor Daniel Craig, has taken the character to more realist levels than in the past, she said she still loves his portrayal.

“Daniel Craig is fantastic, even though what he’s doing is not exactly the James Bond personality . . . He’s trying to make him more of a real person, and I realize the irony in that, because I’m doing the same thing in this book. I’m trying to give him more of a full life.”

The Last Temptation of Bond will be available at Sunworks in Red Deer starting March 22. Beach, who praises the store’s owners for being big supporters of the local arts scene, said an opening reception will be held that same Friday from 7 p.m. The book is also available for $19.95 from www.uap.ualberta.ca.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Contributed image)
Wolf Creek Public Schools will not participate in curriculum pilot

Central Alberta school jurisdiction joins others across Alberta

AstraZeneca vaccine is ready to be used at a homeless shelter in Romford, east London, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein
Most unvaccinated Canadians uncomfortable with AstraZeneca vaccine: survey

Just 41 per cent of Canadians who aren’t vaccinated, but intend to… Continue reading

Advocate file photo
Red Deer County approves winery in central Alberta

Winery proposed for rural property northwest of Innisfail

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that was administered to seniors, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. A second COVID-19 vaccine is being investigated for possible links to blood clots, though the syndrome appears to be extremely rare. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rogelio V. Solis
Canada receives report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

OTTAWA — A Quebec woman is the first in Canada to develop… Continue reading

Jennifer Lopez, left, and Alex Rodriguez take a selfie as they arrive at the 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in January 2020. VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World will showcase Lopez. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)
Selena Gomez and J.Lo headline vax concert for poor nations

NEW YORK — Backed by an international concert hosted by Selena Gomez… Continue reading

A vial of the vaccine by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a company owned by Johnson & Johnson. Federal health officials in the U.S. said early Tuesday they were urging a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine after reports of six serious blood clots, and officials in Washington state and around the country quickly complied. (Aristide Economopoulos/NJ Advance Media)
How J&J and AstraZeneca differ from the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine has hit a stumbling block in… Continue reading

An emergency response worker carries an air monitoring device at the site of a crude oil spill at a Trans Mountain Pipeline pump station in Abbotsford, on Sunday, June 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Failed fitting caused 190,000-litre spill at Trans Mountain site in B.C.: TSB

VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board report says the failure of a… Continue reading

Indigenous leaders, experts urge Ottawa to quickly pass UNDRIP bill before election

OTTAWA — Indigenous leaders and legal experts are pushing federal lawmakers to… Continue reading

Visitors to a roadside memorial pay their respects in Portapique, N.S., on Friday, April 24, 2020. The Canadian Red Cross confirmed today it has collected $6.2 million in donations to help the families in rural Nova Scotia affected by the mass shooting last spring that claimed 22 lives. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Red Cross collects $6.2 million for families affected by Nova Scotia mass shooting

HALIFAX — Canadians and people from around the world donated $6.2 million… Continue reading

Hindu devotees wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus stand in a queue to offer prayers inside a temple dedicated to goddess Kali in Jammu, India, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. New infections have surged in the past month and India has now reported over 13.6 million cases — pushing its toll past Brazil, and making it second only to the United States. In the past 24 hours, over 160,000 new infections have been detected and experts fear that the worst is yet to come. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Johnson & Johnson delays shot rollout in Europe

BERLIN — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of… Continue reading

Restaurant workers and restaurant delivery workers wait in line to sign up for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine site, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of New York. The mobile vaccination effort includes two buses equipped with four to six vaccinators each, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine directly to communities most in need. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose… Continue reading

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

Most Read