Suspect science meets intricate art of good sex
Short, sharp guidance and observations from a journalist with attitude. All books available from Exclusives
IF YOU READ ONE BOOK THIS WEEK
The Cutting Season, by Attica Locke (Dennis Lehane/Harper), R240
LOCKE was roundly praised for her debut, Black Water Rising, and this, her second novel, sees her grasp on racial and class issues of the American South becoming much more assured. Here a young black woman and her daughter return to the Louisiana plantation she was raised on.
These days, the place is a tourist attraction, but its slave past is soon thrown into focus when the body of a migrant worker is found on the grounds. All sorts of old wounds are opened in this ambitious and atmospheric murder mystery.
BEN Goldacre, doctor, columnist and author of the acclaimed bestseller Bad Science - in which he exposed and rubbished the "evidence" behind misleading and dubious claims from journalists, alternative therapists and government reports - is back with a controversial new book, Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients (Fourth Estate).
Once more, he claims, science has been distorted by the corporations; drug manufacturers run bad trials on their products, which extort and deliberately exaggerate their benefits. When the test results are unflattering, the data is simply buried. Government regulators, too, are at fault, as are doctors and patient groups who are bribed by the $600-billion global pharmaceutical industry.
Early reports on the book suggest that Goldacre has uncovered "a fascinating, terrifying mess".
THIS month marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Alex Comfort's The Joy of Sex: A Gourmet Guide to Lovemaking, one of the landmarks of the sexual revolution. It may seem rather tame by today's standards. But the manual caused such a rumpus when it first appeared - it was banned by several countries, including South Africa, and religious groups in the US wanted it removed from libraries - that it spent a decade on the bestseller lists, and sold some 10 million copies.
To celebrate the occasion, The Observer put together a list of what it claimed were the world's best sex guides. It included Married Love, by Marie Stopes (written in 1913 when the family planning pioneer was still a virgin), old chestnuts The Kama Sutra and The Perfumed Garden, both translated by Richard Burton, Ovid's Ars Amatoria and 2008's Sex: How To Do Everything, by Emma Taylor and Lorelei Sharkey, which The Observer described as a "unisex but especially female-friendly" guide for the Agent Provocateur Generation and "full of hip, witty and mischievous tips on foreplay, intercourse, oral, anal, fantasy, role-play and sex toys". Brace yourselves, then.
THE BOTTOM LINE
"IT'S questionable whether even the greatest lotharios of centuries past found sexual partners in such prodigious number, or were so often saved the tiresome preliminaries of seduction." - Mick Jagger, by Philip Norman (HarperCollins)