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City Reads: From Russia With Love, Corn Exchange, Church Street, Brighton, May 2
As this year's three-month City Reads event drew to a close, a trio of James Bond aficionados came together to discuss Ian Fleming's From Russia With Love.
And in terms of the experts selected to talk about the fifth Bond novel with host Peter Guttridge they couldn't be faulted.
Fleming's official biographer Andrew Lycett, Simon Winder, the man who put the Bond books into the Penguin Modern Classics imprint, and former Erotic Review editor Rowan Pelling all gave their genial points of view.
Sadly Lycett seemed initially under-prepared, confessing he couldn't remember much about the creation of From Russia With Love, which might have seemed a basic bit of prior research for a visiting expert.
But he redeemed himself later, with his descriptions of Fleming's literary frustrations and anecdotes about Fleming's mother - a possible reason for the head of MI5 being called M.
Pelling came across as a genuine lover of the Bond novels, blaming The Spy Who Loved Me - a novel she compared to soft porn - as her first introduction to erotica at the age of nine.
Her contributions to the debate weren't confined to just picking out the racier sections of the novels, but added much of the humour as she compared the arch villain Rosa Klebb to everyone's worst geography mistress ever.
The real treat was to hear from Winder, a man who arguably has done most to push Fleming's Bond novels into the literary canon.
His contributions underlined why the spy thriller was a good choice for this year's project, as the book which mythologised Bond, and gave an insight into the Cold War fears of the Soviets.
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