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Life’s a bitch: Animal, by Lisa Taddeo, reviewed

Lisa Taddeo’s debut Three Women was touted as groundbreaking. In reality it was a limp, occasionally overwritten account of the sexual hang-ups of three ordinary women. It took eight years to research and write. It didn’t seem worth it. Luckily, she was also gathering material for a novel, Animal, a book teeming with the rage,

The cut-throat business of the secondhand book trade

For almost as long as there have been books, there have been books about books — writers just love to go meta. As well as all that midrash, those Biblical commentaries, the SparkNotes, the interpretations, retellings and the endless online fan fic, there are also of course plenty of guides, manuals and handbooks designed to

Liberate yourself from sexual repression the Wilhelm Reich way

When she was 22, Olivia Laing had a sensual epiphany in Brighton. She’d been drawn into a herbalist’s massage parlour by the sign outside claiming that headaches, anger, depression and colds — in fact any symptoms at all — were caused by stuck energy from past traumas that body psychotherapy could release. ‘The idea of

Salman Rushdie’s self-importance is entirely forgivable

I have the habit, when reading a collection of essays, of not reading them in order. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. So, as it happened, I had read nearly all of Languages of Truth before I arrived at the second piece in the book, ‘Proteus’, and came across the Salman Rushdie I

Studies in vulnerability: A Shock, by Keith Ridgway, reviewed

Keith Ridgway’s seventh book is a sultry, steamy shock of a novel, not least because nine years ago, despite the critical success of Hawthorn & Child, he retired from writing, telling his publishers he was done with making up stories. He also stopped reading — although only for a year, lured back by the likes

Experiences of Eton — and the success it rewards

In the summer of 2019, the journalist Anita Sethi was on a train travelling across northern England when she was racially abused by another passenger. Besides using several words too offensive to quote, the man spat that Sethi should go back to where she came from. And so she did. Sethi comes from Manchester. Her