Speaking of new homes and cities (per previous post), I loved reading Ian Fleming’s Thrilling Cities! At one point in his life, after the critical success of James Bond, Fleming was commissioned by the Sunday Times to explore some of the world’s most “exotic cities” between 1959 and 1960. As someone who was adventurous and enterprising, Fleming ditched the massive tourist areas for back alleys in search of hidden, authentic pulse of towns. The list of cities include: Hong Kong, Macau, Tokyo, Honolulu, LA & Las Vegas, Chicago, New York, Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, Geneva, Naples, and Monte Carlo.
I’ve visited many of these cities and it was simply refreshing to recollect travel memories through Fleming’s thrilling perspectives. Of course, some of the descriptions are a bit outdated but the heart and soul of each city were captured so timelessly. Here’s an impression of Vegas that I particularly liked: “At night, from an aeroplane, the great gambling resort of Las Vegas looks like a twinkling golden river in the black vastness of the Mojave Desert across the high Sierra from Los Angeles. The Strip, a short stench away of the highway which ribbons through the desert and cleaves of Vegas, gleams and glitters at night with neoned hostelries and gambling casinos. During the day it is dusty and pallid. Against the vast black velvet of the heavens, star-gleaming, there is a carnival quality about this incredible oasis, incongruously named after the swamps which were once nearby.” He isn’t this romantic in all the cities but I feel that the detail was effortless and genuine to how precisely Fleming felt when he arrived in Las Vegas.
The whole book flows nicely in thrilling snippets as if it is written by Bond himself. There were a couple of times I cringed because some descriptions were too “western-inappropriate”, if that makes any sense. Regardless, I was able to breathe, smell, hear the conscience of these cities again through Fleming’s tasteful descriptions and style. There are real recommendations of restaurants, hotels, and sites to visit in each city chapter. It’d be cool to do a “Fleming world tour” someday! I can’t wait to read his other non-fiction Diamond Smugglers. Stay tuned & happy reading!
dee’s recommendation: 4/5