Saturday 23 August 1997
Inventing the Abbotts by Sue Miller (Indigo, pounds 5.99) Best known for her novel The Good Mother, Sue Miller continues to explore the perils of single- mommiedom in her short stories - sex with a new partner while the baby snoozes being one of her favoured themes. In one story a 37-year-old mother inadvisably gets out erotic snapshots of her younger, more nubile self to show to a new lover, while in "Expensive Gifts", a woman who begins the night in bed with an unfamiliar man ends it snuggled up to her two- year-old son. In this titillating, readable collection, only the book's title story, about two brothers' obsession with a family of sisters, fails to pack a punch.
Racing Pigs and Giant Marrows by Harry Pearson (Abacus, pounds 5.99) Like the naughty boy in every class, Pearson can't stop cracking jokes. This account of 25 North Country shows, ranging from the Appleby Horse Fair to the Egton Gooseberry Fair, is packed with gags. Fortunately, they're very good ones, such as the way that a crab sandwich, left in Tupperware for an hour, produces "the nauseating stench of a Russian factory ship becalmed in the Indian ocean with a faulty refrigeration system". This book is a joy and a treasure.
In the Garden of Desire by Wendy Maltz and Susie Boss (Bantam, pounds 9.99) In this survey of the sexual fantasies of more than 100 American women, one of the participants remarks: "Fantasies don't fart, suffer exhaustion or leave balled-up socks on the floor." Unlike their male counterparts, female fantasies tend to be complex narratives: "I imagine I'm a meditation student using a secluded ashram in the woods ..." Six common fantasy roles include Victim, Dominatrix and Voyeur. As the authors note, "We don't have to like fantasy for it to provide a positive function."
Portofino by Frank Schaeffer (Black Swan, pounds 6.99) Eyes fixed on his three slices of tuna, three slices of salami, four olives and round of mortadella, young Calvin Becker prays that the rest of the pensione won't notice his mother saying grace. Just one of the countless embarrassing moments recalled in Schaeffer's semi-autobiographical novel remembering Sixties holidays on the Italian Riviera with his American missionary parents. A novel that glows with sentiment and cheap red wine.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
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Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
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It takes a platoon of chefs, litres of brandy and rum, and almost 100kg of dried fruit
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Arts & Ents blogs
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
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- 2 North Koreans are gasping for the truth: Let's give it to them
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
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