By Andrew Donaldson for The Times:
Short, sharp guidance and observations from a journalist with attitude
IF YOU READ ONE BOOK THIS WEEK
The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin (Orion), R115
Publishing chatter has it that Rankin is considering the return of Inspector Rebus, retired with 2007′s Exit Music but arguably still Tartan Noir’s greatest detective.
Hopefully, this won’t be at the expense of Inspector Malcolm Fox, who made his debut with 2009′s The Complaints. He’s less of a maverick than Rebus, but he’s starting to grow on readers. This, the second in the series, and just out in paperback, sees Fox and his internal affairs team’s investigation into a complaint of sexual impropriety against a policeman soon develop into a murder case that harks back to the violence of 1980s Scottish nationalism.
Women are getting beaten, bound and gagged all over the suburbs. Or so we’re led to believe, thanks to the phenomenal success of EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey, which is now officially the fastest-selling paperback in history.
Sex shops here and abroad are reporting that the sales of blindfolds, whips and handcuffs have soared, reflecting the sadomasochism themes of the book now hailed as the Da Vinci Code of bondage.
This from local publishers Random House Struik: “Sharon Gordon, who heads up Lola Montez, the sensuality stores for women, has advised that the sales of BDSM items have tripled in the last three months owing to the release of the Fifty Shades trilogy. Their silk cuffs with masks are flying off the shelves and the crops, floggers, benwa balls and the game they sell called Bondage 101 are also selling extremely well.”
The jury’s out, though, as to whether the trilogy’s fans would actually date men who have a taste for discipline in the bedroom. But one Mumsnet reader has posted that it may be worth (ahem) a bash; as she put it, “dungeon full of fetish gear = owns own property.” Are the books porn dressed up as romance, or romance dressed as porn? “Whatever the answer,” The Guardian said, “it is absolutely clear that for a while there will be nothing so good for flogging books as books about flogging.”
Most of us will remember the writer Nora Ephron, who passed away last week, for the fake orgasm scene with Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, and the response from a fellow diner: “I’ll have what she’s having.”
Her novel, Heartburn, inspired by her marriage to journalist Carl Bernstein and later turned into a movie, was full of such powerfully funny moments, including this observation: “The major concrete achievement of the women’s movement in the 1970s was the Dutch treat.”
She’s going to be missed.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“Drowned puppies, stinking sprats, all drenched in mud / Dead cats and turnip tops come tumbling down the flood”. – London: A History in Verse, edited by Mark Ford (Harvard)
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