Cover Stories: The Sex Manual; Eve Ensler; Michael Crick; Charles Dickens

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The Independent Culture

Cars and sex have always gone together, be it the bench seat of a Fifties Ford Consul or James Bond's Aston Martin. So it seems entirely appropriate that Haynes, long known for its motor manuals, will next month publish The Sex Manual. Written by TV doctor Ian Banks, whose Man Manual and Baby Manual have been surprise bestsellers for Haynes, the book is aimed at young men and sets out to teach them about safe but fun sex. Naturally, among the positions are several that involve cars (drawings help with the practicalities). Those who enjoy spending weekends under them will be fascinated to learn that the principle underlying André Citröen's hydraulic suspension is the same as that for an erection.

* Still with sex and anatomy, Heinemann has just acquired the latest offering by Eve Ensler, the creator of the internationally successful Vagina Monologues - which, in book form, has been translated into 27 languages. The Good Body explores all areas, be they swathed in a burqa or subjected to Botox and other cosmetic surgery. Stories from women around the world are interspersed with Ensler's own journey from self-loathing teenager to an adulthood in which she only semi-accepts what Nature has given her. Publication is set for the autumn.

* Mr and Mrs Crick have caused two people to begin an unhappy new year. Michael Crick, scourge of Jeffrey Archer, has signed with Simon & Schuster for a biography of the Tory leader Michael Howard, to coincide with the general election likely next year. The same firm has signed up Margaret Crick to write a biography of Mary Archer. Lady A is apparently not best pleased at this turn of events, concerned that the author's involvement in Michael's life of Jeffrey means she is already prejudiced. There are rumours that Lady A has written a warning letter to S&S MD Ian Chapman, who back in the 1980s was Archer's paperback publisher at Hodder.

* An ambitious scheme to publish Charles Dickens's novels as they originally appeared, The Dickens Part-Works Project has begun with the first of 20 instalments of David Copperfield (£9.95 per month). John Durrant of Durrant Editions will issue a limited edition of 2,500 on custom-made paper that matches the originals and features all the illustrations and advertisements. For further information, go to www.durranteditions.com or call 01451 824455.

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