Stuck on Crab Key Island with … Frieda Toth

001. Octopussy, Ian Fleming

I read this one over and over. The short story which gives us the title is a deep and sad, yet beautiful, tale. I have often felt that Ian Fleming was talking to himself. The major plot points, of course, did not happen to him (as far as we know he never killed anyone, nor did his wife commit suicide) but the longing for the happiness of his lost youth, the realization that it was lost and that he had made mistakes, always seemed personal to me. James Bond, as always standing in for Ian, is passing judgement here on Ian’s failures. All the stories in this collection of shorts are good, but I’ll pick this one for repeated pleasure.

Read More: Was Ian Fleming’s Octopussy Autobiographical?

002. James Bond Encyclopedia, John Cork

This nonfiction work is hefty, at 339 pages without the index. It concentrates on the movies–which are really not my thing, but I love any kind of encyclopedia as they are always good for re-reading. Also I’ve had the good fortune to meet John Cork, who is witty and wise and delightful company. I’d enjoy hearing his voice in my head as I read this work.


003. Behind Every Great Man, Marlene Wagman-Geller

With an infuriatingly jokey writing style, Wagman-Geller gives us the stories behind forty women who made their men who they were, and Ian and Anne were one of the lucky or unlucky couples the author examines. She’s a mercilessly opinionated writer and a lot of fun to read.

Read More: The Letters of Ann Fleming

004. Diamonds Are Forever
and 005. Spy Who Loved Me, Ian Fleming

I need them because they take place in and around my hometown. I need first editions but I don’t want them inscribed by Ian. Nope. Give me old, well-loved library copies, so I can feel I am sharing the experience with everybody who signed his or her name on the little card in the back of the book.

Read More: The Hidden Gems in Diamonds Are Forever

Read More: The Spy Who Loved Me: A Very Personal Story

006. The Irregulars, Jennet Conant

Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming were spies, and had similar taste in women. Beyond that, I won’t tell you, just read it!

Read more: The Irregular Lives of Ian Fleming and Roald Dahl

Read More: 007’s Oriental Eyefuls by Roald Dahl

007. Ian Fleming, Andrew Lycett

Lycett’s is the most complete but I really like Matthew Parker’s writing style in Goldeneye. Then again, Fergus Fleming had to sort through somebody else’s letters and annotate just enough to make sense, but not be intrusive in The Man with the Golden Typewriter, and that was quite a feat. If I have to take just one biography to the island, I’ll take Andrew Lycett’s but ache for Parker and Fleming.

Read More: Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born: Ian Fleming’s Jamaica by Matthew Parker

Read More: “Take a Letter Griffie”—The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming’s James Bond Letters

008. Women with Alcoholic Husbands, Ramona Asher

This is a wonderfully researched book by a woman who holds a PhD. The author dares to posit that codependency may be false, that women may not intentionally involve themselves with alcoholics, and that such relationships vary immensely in origin and how they play out. If you want to understand Ian, you should probably understand his wife. Poor Anne.

One song

It has to be not just a good song but one I don’t mind hearing a lot. So how about one I hear too much anyway? “Nobody Does It Better,” by Carly Simon. It just makes me happy. If I am limited to songs from the books, anything by the Ink Spots.

Luxury Item

Guano. Definitely.  If I am going to be on the island for a while, I had better get to gardening, so Dr. No’s incomparable fertilizer is the way to go.

One drink

You gotta have a Bond tipple, and it wasn’t always a martini. No, I’ll take a nice warm sake, only unlike Bond in You Only Live Twice, I’ll enjoy mine slowly.

Incidental Intelligence

Interview with Frieda Toth

Literary 007 Tourism: Bond in Saratoga Springs

8 thoughts on “Stuck on Crab Key Island with … Frieda Toth

  1. Frieda
    A very good list, though not sure about the guano! Never heard of 2 – Behind Every Great Man and Women With Alcoholic Husbands. Very well done.

  2. I think, Frieda, that rather than the books, I’d prefer some of the things from the stories you mention:
    Octopussy – the Webley-Scott .45cal pistol. TSWLM & DAF – condoms and Tiffany Case – or some reasonable facsimile thereof…A case of the Infuriator – courtesy of M – OHMSS. The Pinch bottle Haig and two glasses – from Moonraker. I’m sure there are more cool items to bring along. And, as we know, more stories from which to pick very cool things to bring to the Island! Great article!

  3. I loved the interview with Frieda! As a woman who had read the books, I like her insights on things. I didn’t grow up in the Saratoga Springs area, but close enough that the book I read first was TSWLM because of the local connection. This was after seeing the 60’s and 70’s movies. I was surprised to find them much more interesting and much less sexist than the movies, which made me want to read more. I read them as a 20 year old, but I think I will go back and read them again to see how my perception of them has changed and to perhaps pick up on nuances that my naive 20 year old self would not have noticed.

    I look forward to looking over the recommended reading, especially “Women with Alcoholic Husbands”. I have some personal experience with that subject and still am puzzled by the dynamic that happened and maybe it can shed some light.

    I look forward to more from Frieda.

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