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`Annotations` author John Griswold talks Bond

27-Jan-2006 • Bond News

Within minutes of entering John Griswold´s home, I was overwhelmed with James Bond ephemera. Vintage You Only Live Twice poster art, signed by the original artist, hung on the wall of the guest bedroom, and miniature models of Astin Martins were laid out on a chest of drawers - reports the Hartford Advocate.

Downstairs, the living room had a reproduction of The Man with the Golden Gun ´s titular Golden Gun encased in glass (Griswold´s wife, Deborah, was quick to point out that the gun wasn´t functional), along with several books about the James Bond books and movies, and a bust of James Bond´s creator, Ian Fleming, sculpted by Griswold himself.
Among the 007-centric books in the living room was one authored by Griswold, Ian Fleming´s James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming´s Bond Stories . The 450-page book was published in 2005 through print-on-demand publisher AuthorHouse. The book, a list of annotated facts about references and events in the James Bond novels and short stories, was endorsed by Ian Fleming´s relatives and publishing house.

¨The book is not a pure narrative,¨ Griswold said, explaining the annotated format. ¨People who read it are not going to be spoonfed information.¨

The book contains notes on military technology, British slang and animal species, maps of a golf course, diagrams of chess clocks, and flow charts of the power authority of the British colonial empire. There are technical drawings of trains and boats, detailed chronologies of events in the novels and short biographical sketches of historical personages ranging from silent film comedian Buster Keaton to industrial designer Raymond Loewy.

¨The books take place mostly in the ´50s and use a lot of terminology from World War II,¨ Griswold said. As such, Griswold believes, many of Fleming´s references are lost on readers. And while the books can be read as straightforward adventure stories, Griswold thinks that without the background information his book provides, much of what makes the book enjoyable is lost.

¨For example, in Moonraker , there´s a mention of the ´girl in the balloon bet.´ I´ve been trying to figure out for years if it was something real. I kept on hunting. Finally, I found a movie producer working on a film in Scotland. He told me it was a reference to a real bet made in the 19th century about whether a notorious rake could make love to a woman in a balloon,¨ Griswold said.

Hardboiled novelist Raymond Chandler once described James Bond as ¨what every man would like to be, and what every woman would like to have between her sheets.¨ However, Griswold didn´t associate with the character of Bond -- or other characters in the books or movies. Griswold dashed my photographer´s request that he pose with his cat in the manner of Bond villain Ernst Blofeld, and spoke disparagingly about people dressed in tuxedos at James Bond conventions.

He seemed more interested in the data than the spy. Part of what initially attracted him to the Bond films was the fact that the individual movies were parts of a series.

¨My interest started with the movies. I saw From Russia With Love in, gosh, must have been 1963,¨ Griswold said. ¨When I saw Goldfinger , it dawned on me that this was the same guy, and that this was a series.¨

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