Saturday, February 22, 2014

NPR Books: A Cure For Sochi-Fatigue, Shaken Not Stirred

To combat Sochi-fatigue, Lev Grossman recomends reading one of the best of Ian Fleming's James Bond thrillers On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

The Sochi Winter Olympics haven't been short on drama: The Russians upset the South Koreans in figure skating; the Dutch upset us in speed-skating; everybody got upset about Bob Costas's eye infection. But after two weeks and a great deal of curling, a certain amount of Sochi fatigue is setting in. So it might be refreshing to look back at one of the iconic heroes of winter sports: Agent 007 himself, James Bond.

Bond's career as a winter athlete peaks in Ian Fleming's 11th novel, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Bond's nemesis Blofeld, having spent his ill-gotten gains on an alp, has set himself up in a remote, super-exclusive ski resort near St. Moritz (which happens to be the site of both the 1928 and 1948 winter Olympics). Bond decides to infiltrate the place. It doesn't hurt that the resort doubles as a health spa for ski bunnies who appear to be suffering from chronic sexiness.

... On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the epitome of mid-century Alpine glamor, full of apres-ski trysts and flasks full of schnapps and blonds in tight sweaters and exciting-sounding Swiss-German ski terminology like langlaufing. But what makes it truly great is that unlike the Bond films, it's not a hymn to human invulnerability. Bond's knees tremble; his ankles ache; he's constantly worrying about his outdated skiing style and lousy form — "keep forward, you bastard!" he tells himself. "Get your hands way in front of you!"

You can read the rest of the piece and listen to the NPR broadcast via the below link:

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