Less sex

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Still our hearts! There is news from the world of commercial fiction: editors are said to be sick of "knickerbooks", those contemporary chronicles of young, single metropolitan women behaving not terribly badly, produced by young, single metropolitan women writing not terribly well. That Bridget Jones of ours has more to answer for than increasing sales of chardonnay.

But now, in Bloomsbury, among the Snipcocks and the Tweeds, the hunt is on for new themes and genres. There is talk, we understand, of a new novel set in Welshpool, featuring warmth and innocence rather than cynicism and sex. Bravo! Warmth and innocence should be leading exhibits of a new century and millennium, and should not be confined to Welshpool.

Perhaps we might be allowed to make a few suggestions, or "pitches", as they appear to be called. How about a famous footballer and a famous pop star who meet on a railway station, fall in love, and enjoy shopping? Or a handsome young Etonian whose ambition to save the world is fatally compromised by a sudden, irresistible craving for a hamburger?

There is clearly a big theme, too, in a bearded man not in the first flush of youth called upon to make a pointless sacrifice, but that feels a little familiar.