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You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming

You Only Live Twice (1964)

by Ian Fleming

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
There are two or three chapters towards the end where things actually happen. The other 90% of the book is completely terrible. And it might beat "The Spy Who Loved Me" as the most offensive James Bond book (that one for misogyny, this one racism). ( )
  comfypants | Feb 22, 2015 |
Bond in Japan, still in pursuit of Blofeld. He composes a quite striking haiku, an suffers amnesia but is fortunately nursed by the delectable Kissy Suzuki. The point at which she reintroduces him to sex by way of a Japanese erotic book is amusing. ( )
  antiquary | Jan 8, 2015 |
The one or two other Ian Fleming Bond novels I've read were not much fun - boring and unconvincing - but I did enjoy this. The setup is preposterous, but the narration moves along quickly enough. I can see why this is often described as the best of the original Bond books. Fleming wrote the book in the final year of his life, during a time of failing health, and it has greater depth than earlier novels. It also involves an extended conversation between Bond and 'Tiger' Tanaka, head of a Japanese intelligence unit, which is really a commentary on Britain's sense of its decline as a world power. The weary sadness of those chapters makes it easier to look past the implicit imperialism that is baked into the character and perhaps the genre. ( )
  bezoar44 | Jun 30, 2014 |
Rating: 3.5* of five

1967's film version of the book apparently kept nothing to speak of from the book's plot, little enough of the characters, and broke new ground in space science, if only physics would agree to operate by Bondiverse rules. So that raises the question:

What the actual fuck. Undetectable space launches from a densely packed island nation famous then as now for being xenophobic? Volcanos hollowed out and repurposed because they're extinct and then *KERPOW* they blow up on cue? The sorriest ninjas on record being trained in what appears to be a suburban garden?

Yeesh. No wonder Sean Connery was ready to leave the role after this turkey.

You might have noticed that Connery is, by Western standards, a large man. Tall. Muscular. Imposing. And he's now going to pretend to be Japanese. Forty-five years ago, there were very few Japanese men over 6ft tall. To the best of my knowledge, there are to this good moment a vanishingly small number of Japanese men with Scottish accents and furry chests. So when Bond is presented as a native husband for a local girl WITH HER OWN HOME AND BOAT, I rolled my eyes so hard I'm pretty sure I saw my brain. Like every damn single man on that island wouldn't be all up in Bond's business from second one, seeing as how he nabbed the most eligible woman in Japan!

So it sounds like 3.5 stars is ridiculously generous, doesn't it? There are reasons: 1) Bond's death scene at the beginning of the movie. So cool I get frostbite from watching it. 2) Blofeld's big blond henchrat. Scenic. 3) The Toyota 2000GT that Bond's first gal-pal drives:

Über cool car. And, trivia for the five of you still reading this, Toyota delivered the car to the filmmakers a couple weeks before shooting. Connery did not fit in the vehicle. At all. Toyota's staff said, "oh no, so sorry, we'll fix it" and they DID. I am constantly amazed that this level of customer service ever existed on the surface of the earth.

The house I live in presently was built in 1938. It's got golden oak floors, painted baseboards, dentilated crown moldings...very NOT 1960s decor. The films have reminded me of the ocean of blond wood, teak, copper, and faux stone that permeated the built environment of the day. Glass tables, horrible things they were too. An amazing number of ceramic lamps with cylindrical paper shades. As familiar to me as my beard, but not today's design vernacular by any stretch. I wonder, is it off-putting or old-fashioned looking to kids of the 1980s? (Kids HA most of y'all got kids of your own now.)

So at least one star added for taking me right back into a world I liked a lot, because it was the first one I ever knew. It had its charms. I prefer today, but that doesn't lessen the draw of a familiar past. That's a big part of the fun I get from rewatching these films.

ETA The song! I forgot to mention Nancy Sinatra's rendition of "You Only Live Twice", a syrupy ballad with a screechy violin hook that embeds itself in the brain extremely deeply. The hook is played over a lot of lovely scenery shots, so repetition does its ugly work. Still, it's nowhere near as horrible as the Tom Jones rendition of "Thunderball." That is just heinous. ( )
  richardderus | Dec 11, 2013 |
I read this a very long time ago, shortly after it was published. ( )
  auntieknickers | Aug 28, 2013 |
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You only live twice:
Once when you are born,
and once when you look death in the face.
To Richard Hughes and Torao Saito, But for whom etc....
First words
The geisha called 'Trembling Leaf', on her knees beside James Bond, leant forward from the waist and kissed him chastely on the right cheek.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The James Bond Adventure Novel that takes 007 to the exotic Orient... to the suicide gardens of the maniacal Dr. Shatterhand... and the arms of the most enticing heroine Fleming ever created, the delightful KISSY SUZUKI.
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On the brink of becoming a security risk after the death of his wife, Secret Service agent 007 is sent to Japan and encounters an old enemy.

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