Local author Kimmy Beach knows how to paint visual pictures via her impeccable choice of words like few else.
Her latest book, The Last Temptation of Bond, is a dramatic, extraordinary and bold spin into the shimmering, sexy yet broken and somehow empty world of the literary hero, and to say it’s a page-turner is a blatant understatement. As with her past books, Beach has a way of creating text that crackles at virtually every turn. It’s poignant, shocking, disturbing, witty and bizarre – every page wields a different mood, a remarkably different ‘feel’.
“I do see it all when I’m writing.”
She has a tremendous skill at drawing readers into whatever world she is creating – we see the characters, we hear them and our senses are starkly aware of their surroundings. Readers truly feel close to what’s going on.
Honestly, there is little that can compare with her boldness as an author and creativity as an artist. Each word feels like it has been carefully chosen, but at the same time the text clips along with a completely natural feel.
Her past titles, Nice Day for Murder: poems for James Cagney, Alarum Within: theatre poems, fake Paul and in Cars all resonate with those same attributes.
Meanwhile, her love for all things Bond was sparked early on.
“I saw Octopussy in Paris when I was 18,” she says. “We were walking down the Champs-Élysées and we had about four bucks.” The night before she and her friend saw the film, it was opening at that theatre. “I remember seeing the Bond girl, and Roger Moore was there. We were like ‘What’s going on?’ So we went the next night to see it.” Something stuck a chord with Beach, and Bond has been a part of her life since.
“I like his immortality. No matter what you do, you can’t kill him off. I like his transcendence over time and space.”
Her love for and understanding of the character serves the book incredibly. When chatting about the recent films, she explains how in her view, they are trying to hard to dig into Bond’s personal life. “He doesn’t have an inner life! Go blow something up. Take your shirt off. Have a martini,” she laughs.
Although in her book, Beach does give Bond “a little bit” of an inner life because it’s sort of against what Bond is, she adds. Ultimately however, she has a solid understanding on both what the masses find so appealing about the character and Bond’s pervasive sense of remoteness; his disconnection from the chaos often swirling around him. That’s more akin to the older slate of films, which tended to ‘wink’ to the audience what we all knew – this is all crazy, spectacular fun, but it’s not the stuff of digging into hidden parts of the human heart.
As to the Ian Fleming’s novels, Beach points out that they aren’t particularly good in a technical sense. “But they are so fun. You just page-turn like crazy.”
With the new book, Beach also saw connections between Bond and the Christ story. There’s that sense of immortality. She also drew on her admiration for the book and film The Last Temptation of Christ where Jesus is offered the chance to back away from his messianic mission and live a ‘normal’ life. “Then at the end of the book, the apostles come in and say this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. So he wakes up and he’s back on the cross. It’s a fascinating story. It’s a fascinating story because it injects the humanity into that character.”
Bond experiences a spell of normalcy too in terms of a rather predictable domestic life at one point. “But he’s always a little bit off. He doesn’t actually feel quite like that is his life.”
There is also a sense of timelessness that surfaces throughout the book; readers find Bond in all kinds of settings and circumstances so there’s a sense he’s been ‘everywhere’ too. Beach said that was a purposeful move on her part to keep that airy feel of transcendence and also one of unrestriction from particular eras.
As always, Beach takes a world and multiple story lines and weaves it all together in a gripping, powerful tale. Her consistent insight, as usual, tops it all off in mesmerizing style, and this is reflected strongly in one line that particularly jumps out. And stays with you long after the book is done.
“You can’t stop it. Everyone’s expendable, James. Everyone’s replaceable. Even you.”
Copies of all of Kimmy Beach’s books are available at Sunworks in downtown Red Deer, or through the University of Alberta Press. Check out www.uap.ualberta.ca.