This week's bookcase includes reviews of Whatever Happened To Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins, The End Of Eddy by Edouard Louis and Eat Me: A Natural And Unnatural History Of Cannibalism by Bill Schutt

Whatever Happened To Interracial Love?

Kathleen Collins

Collins, activist, playwright and film-maker, was a pioneering black woman deeply involved in the American Civil Rights Movement, yet whose work seemed destined to fade into obscurity following her death, aged just 46, in 1988. Fortunately, in 2015 her film, Losing Ground, was rediscovered, and immediately hailed as a masterpiece. In its wake comes this haunting collection of short stories, revealing Collins to have been an equally gifted and insightful writer. Stand-outs Interiors, The Happy Family and the title piece are devastating tales of family strife, disappointing lovers and thwarted idealism, all delivered from a candid female perspective that's refreshing, even to a contemporary reader. Central throughout are the difficult interracial politics of the era. These stories have resurfaced at a time when the attitudes of the West seem once again at risk of taking a crueller turn, and this lends them further heartbreaking resonance.

The End Of Eddy

Edouard Louis

The End Of Eddy is Louis' semi-autobiographical account of his childhood and adolescence in a village in rural France, where the residents are incarcerated by a life lived below the poverty line. Men are expected to act tough, to fight and drink, and to find work in the local factory, but Eddy finds himself unable to live up to the macho values that the community and, in particular, his father expect of him. Increasingly humiliated by the possibility that he might gay, he tries desperately to act the "tough guy", dating girls and hiding his shame, but he is forever hounded by the abuse of both his family and his peers. Writing from distance, having since left the village behind, Louis has produced an, at times nuanced, but always critical study of the conservatism of small communities, and an exploration of how we reconcile our individual nature with what is expected of us.

Paris For One & Other Stories

Jojo Moyes

Paris For One & Other Stories is a collection of narratives by Moyes, whose romantic novel Me Before You was given the Hollywood treatment last year. The main star of the piece is the novella Paris For One. Dependable and careful Nell doesn't go anywhere or do anything without a cast-iron plan. But her boyfriend is reckless. One night, something comes alive in her and she books her first-ever romantic weekend away for the pair of them. Forfeiting a weekend with friends, she begins planning what she will do in Paris. But as she's about to step on the train, she learns that her boyfriend is running late, and by the time she's at the hotel, he isn't coming. Alone, Nell needs to find her feet. Moyes has crafted a complex character who is full of heart. Joy rises as Nell flourishes in her new surroundings. There are 10 other stories, all of them involving strong women and the complexities of relationships in the modern world. A great read for fans of Moyes.

Eat Me: A Natural And Unnatural History Of Cannibalism

Bill Schutt

Within the first 10 pages, we've gone from Hannibal Lecter to tadpoles, and the pace doesn't let up as Schutt starts in his own discipline of zoology, showing how ubiquitous cannibalism is among animals. Though it turns out that apparently endearing animals such as mouthbrooding fish are far guiltier here than the notorious black widow (even if that spider's antipodean cousin, the redback, does get its copulation/consumption habits described in lovingly ghoulish detail). Then it's on to the various manifestations in human culture, whether desperate responses to siege and starvation, or deliberate cannibalism in ritual and medicine. Bar a slight stumble towards the end (the story of linked plagues BSE, kuru and vCJD is certainly relevant, but could have been handled in one chapter rather than three), it's a fascinating and surprisingly fun read. Though laughing at a history of cannibalism can garner you some funny looks on public transport.