- The Act of Love by Howard Jacobson
Cape, 308 pp, £17.99, September 2008, ISBN 978 0 224 08609 7
In Howard Jacobson’s 1998 novel No More Mr Nice Guy, a newspaper columnist, Frank, is approached on the street by a female reader wanting his autograph. She is flustered by her own boldness, and to his mind she has good reason to be: he thinks that asking a strange man for a signature shows no less temerity than asking him for sex. But what really adds spice to the encounter is the fact that the woman’s husband is loitering a little way off. Frank wonders why the fellow doesn’t slink away entirely, but then he understands: ‘A man has to be unusually lacking in masochistic curiosity not to want to grab a glimpse of a stranger fucking his wife in the middle of Oxford in broad daylight.’ When the husband produces a camera, Frank starts to feel as though he’s being exploited by a couple of perverts.