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Itching for fiction's escapes from Canberra

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15.02.2020

Although I am indisputably male (as you can tell from my rippling muscles and from my deep, melodious baritone voice) I have a pronounced "feminine side" with which I am fully in touch.

Anna Sewell's 'Black Beauty' asks the reader to see the world through a horse's eyes. Picture: Shutterstock

And so whenever issues arise that involve discussion of so-called "male" or "female" ways of thinking and behaving I put aside the vase of flowers I am arranging, prick up my ears and emit low growls of scepticism.

I am doing a lot of growling in recent days (alarming for my dog, who shares my study and worries I may be a bear or a jaguar) as through my busy desktop I follow current discussion of how and why women love to read fiction while dull men are fiction-averse.

"But wait," I growl.

"I'm a man and an avid reader and read almost nothing but fiction. I love to immerse myself in the imagined lives of imagined folk. Why, at this very time I am reading Tove Jansson's novel The Summer Book and Shakespeare's riotously fictitious play The Comedy of Errors. Perhaps, when I read, I am an honorary woman. I do hope so."

Now the famous topic of women and fiction is given a fillip by a new book, Professor Helen Taylor's Why Women Read Fiction, and by opinionated reviews of her opinion-packed book.

Here are some thought-stoking fragments of Erica Wagner's review of the book in the New Statesman.........

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