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Words: skank, n.

NEW YORK singles bars are not always as blistering as in Judith Rossner's excellent novel Looking For Mr Goodbar. In the New York Free Press Amy Sohn gives a brilliantly romantic account of events going right ("his biceps gleamed in the moonlight") - that is, after putting the guy down, "no skank appeared".

Ms Sohn admits having coined words in her time. This one exists, sometimes as skanky: the etymology is diverse, from cheap Twenties heroin to the gyrating Sixties music ska. It is distinct from skunk, and suggests a reluctant insult.

A first novel by Ms Sohn - Run Catch Kiss - is out in America next summer, the heroine a sex columnist who cannot get a date as men fear becoming copy. She is set fair to be the thinking person's Bridget Jones.