Does size matter? This year my go-to stocking filler will be the pocket-sized Grow a Pair by Joanna Walsh, from Readux Books: 64 pages of unadulterated pleasure ($4.99). Walsh’s collection of hilarious, nimbly interlinked ‘fairy tales about sex’ (‘The Three Big Dicks’, ‘The Princess and the Penis’) is a comic gem to set beside Nicholson Baker’s slim masterpiece Vox (1992), a book about phone sex. Make like Monica Lewinsky and give Vox to the Bill Clinton in your life, or treat yourself and go solo: either way, both these books will make you laugh, blush, and nod in delighted — if risqué — recognition.
Not so good on sex was Eimear McBride’s highly anticipated The Lesser Bohemians (Faber, £16.99). ‘Come with me, he says and I, holding on as it rises, the high tide.’ There were a few demurrals this time round, but I’m still surprised that McBride’s skimpy bouillabaisse of modernism has so many people coming back for seconds.
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