Saturday 24 May 1997
Innocence by Paul Lynton (Sceptre, pounds 6.99) Martyn Fenton, young boy from the Fens, soon learns that home is not a pleasant place to be. Fleeing the unwelcome advances of his brutish father, he arrives in Ely where he falls straight into the hands of some equally lascivious clerics. This powerfully imagined novel of 17th-century nastiness is energetically told, though the regularity with which people want to slip their hands down Martyn's breeches eventually strains belief.
A Handful of Summers by Gordon Forbes (HarperCollins, pounds 5.99) Sparkling memoir of the tennis circuit in the Fifties, when the courts were still populated by humans rather than over-paid backhand machines. It's unlikely that this year's SW19 jamboree will see the likes of Tappy Larsen ("he never trained, smoked a lot, drank beer, slept in the dressing room") or Abie Segal, who had problems on court after eating a massive meal followed by a dose of Eno's ("Throughout the match, he retained an intense, anticipatory look ... as if not quite sure of his immediate future"). Modest, engagingly written, this book is an ace.
The Touch by Julie Myerson (Picador, pounds 5.99) Myerson writes about unusual love affairs. Her first novel, Sleepwalking, famously featured a heavily pregnant woman. The Touch is a sexy, scary tale involving Donna, a young woman with a twisted spine who is persuaded by her sister and boyfriend to seek the help of a local faith-healer. But her miraculous recovery comes at a high price.
Vice Versa by Marjorie Garber (Penguin, pounds 12.99) After probing transvestism in Vested Interests, Garber, a professor of English, has turned her attention to bisexuality. As ambiguous as its subject, this voluminous study roams far and wide in pursuit of sexual omnivorousness. Shakespeare rubs shoulders with pop band, Living Colour, Mick Jagger with Henry James. Though occasionally sharp - she notes that "Michael Jackson has gone from being Peter Pan to J M Barrie" - Garber reads too much into the fact that Calvin Klein sold 80,000 pairs of women's boxer shorts (with fly) in 90 days.
You Are What You Eat by Kirsten Hartvig and Dr Nic Rowley (Piatkus, pounds 9.99) Having scared us to death with Superbug, an inventory of horrible diseases, Rowley and Hartvig are now redressing the balance by explaining how we can improve our chances of longevity by changing what we eat. Dr Nic's "naturopathic" advice is perfectly sound and seems unsettlingly easy to follow: enjoy the food that's good for you, stop worrying about the food that's bad for you, don't take vitamins, do have sex and, above all, think organic.
Pooh and the Philosophers by John Tyerman Williams (Mandarin, pounds 5.99) What a mystery that this exercise in ponderous whimsy should be a bestseller, translated into 13 languages. Do readers experience a self-congratulatory thrill for spotting the subtle humour in "For Winnie-the-Pooh's demonstration of the Principle of Verifiability we turn again to the episode of the HUNNY jar"? Destined for the smallest room of a million middle-class households, it should at least ensure that no one will linger there for long.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If I were Prime Minister: I'd give tax cuts to the rich, keep Trident, and get my football team wrong
- 2 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 5 Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
Eurovision 2015: What date is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
Game of Thrones, season 5 episode 4, review: Sansa in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
Noel Gallagher 'cannot wait' to hear Oasis-inspired One Direction album but rants about 'pointless' Tidal and Spotify
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
Andy McSmith's Sketch: Feisty audience is the real star of an enlightening show