BOOKS: PICK OF THE WEEK

PD James and John Carey Mon Blackwell's, Broad Street, Oxford
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The Independent Culture
What is it that keeps life going? Whatever it is, as both Darwin and Freud devoted their lives to telling us, it does not seem to care about the quality of our lives. So why is it that humans have always strived to improve their lot, yearning for Utopia?

John Carey, editor of The Faber Book of Utopias (pounds 20), grapples with this question as he casts a critical eye on every conceivable form of imaginary society in his recently published anthology. No surprises that the all-hermaphrodite plan didn't get off the drawing board.

In contrast, PD James (right) in Time to Be in Earnest (Faber & Faber pounds 16.99) turns the spotlight away from criminal activities and on to what happened between her 77th and 78th year. The book is part autobiography and part memoir, and James's reflections in turn reflect the changes in our society.

PD James and John Carey discuss their new books at Blackwell's, 49-52 Broad Street, Oxford (01865 792792) Mon, 7pm, pounds 1

Diona Gregory

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