Liberty

For a while now, Womanizer have been developing sex toys for women that do something a little different to the average vibrator. Their latest product comes in the form of Liberty: a cute thing that sits snugly in the palm of your hand — until you fit it snugly around something else instead.

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New Comedy? New Erotica?

“We just used an entire book of comedy to point out some of the ways in which women and other marginalised communities are expected to live up to society’s impossible and often conflicting standards”. I am delighted to read this on p99 of a 118 page bookette. Otherwise I might have thought that it was simply a tooth-grindingly irritating collection of one joke, badly done and repeated like a menstrual cramp during a troublesome period.

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Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots

Humanity has been pressing buttons for a long time now, but we’ve been having our own buttons pressed for much longer. From the Middle Ages to the AI debate currently raging in our own society, Dr Kate Devlin’s new book details the history of man’s (and sometimes woman’s) intimate relationships with their synthetic partners. What once reigned as pure fantasy is growing legs and edging closer to reality at the dawn of the robosexual age – but can a stimulation simulation ever replace the real thing?

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Normal People

Normal People is the second novel by young Dublin-based author Sally Rooney, closely following her memorable début in the form of Conversations with Friends (2017). With regards it stylistic and thematic concerns, the book recalls its predecessor; yet Rooney’s depiction of the short-lived ménage à quatre undergoes both dilation and condensation in the plot of Normal People, which traces a volatile, nebulous and not exactly conventional friendship over the course of five years.

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Tubing

Someone I knew in New Zealand once described their impression of the London tube system: ‘The stops all have ridiculous names—Bank, Monument, Piccadilly Circus. It’s like a bloody video game.’ In K.A. McKeagney’s Tubing gaming is no longer an illusion, though nothing as innocuous as a video game either.

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Embarrassing Sexual Misadventures

If you’re ever stuck for conversation at an uninteresting dinner party and find yourself in desperate need of a supertanker-sized icebreaker, Embarrassing Sexual Misadventures: 1001 of the Most Tragically Hilarious Sexploits Ever might just be the perfect source material.

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ER Summer Reads: The Queen of Bloody Everything

An author’s transition from children’s books to adult fiction cannot but arouse the suspicion that outgrowing a genre requires time. In other words, the initial attempts are almost inevitably hybrids, haunted by traces of fairy tales, toy monkeys and misplaced innocence. Joanna Nadin’s The Queen of Bloody Everything offers, if not a refutation, then a formidable self-justification which uses the accusation to her own advantage.

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ER summer reads: Cruising to Murder

Samuel Johnson once wrote “No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned.” I have to say that I’m rather with the good Doctor on that one: the concept of high life on the ocean wave may be a fine one, but when it comes to the realities of modern cruise ships, I’d rather be an armchair sailor.

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Obsession

Remembered chiefly for his time as editor of the avant-garde monthly publication The Dial in the 1920s when modernism was at its apogee, Scofield Thayer remained an elusive and essentially self-contradictory figure for literary and art historians. The American poet, publisher, philanthropist and aesthete has been described as a ‘Jekyll-and-Hyde paradox’, with his socialist leanings set against a bourgeois lifestyle, his unmistakable misogyny placed in blatant antithesis with a tenderly romanticist spirit. Perhaps no work has shed such an unique light on Thayer the private man than Obsession: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele and Picasso from the Scofield Thayer Collection, a selective catalogue as well as an illuminated biographical study on the collector and the artists alike.

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Mothers

Mothers represents more than a balling-up of shorter pieces, and is both tonally very even and thematically consistent. Many of the stories within concern characters at various stages in life who find themselves abroad, as well as caught in moments of personal transition. It is probably appropriate, considering the format of the short story and its necessary brevity, that Power explores ideas around transience, caprice and the unknowability of human emotions, as nearly every story in the collection does. It is not that Mothers has an inappropriate focus, but rather the format itself that is generally dissatisfying.

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