Nathan, Viennese editor and tireless seducer, talks to his therapist about his greedily indulgent father, sadly thwarted mother, and a string of affairs - not to mention two marriages. Yet all this priapic variation serves to conceal "an absence of desire".
A case for Dr Freud? Only up to point: this ribald, ruthless – but deeply melancholic – first-person novel from one of Austria's leading writers bows far more deeply to the later Philip Roth. David Bryer's translation does the rudely mordant narrator proud, while Nathan's erotic odyssey refflects a generation as much as a single libido.
The chilli on the cover, by the way, refers to something that – unless you're feeling especially robust – you may well not want to try at home.