The Spectator, “The Spectator’s 2023 Books of the Year”

Our writers weigh in

November 14, 2023

D.J. Taylor

From an apprenticeship as a wartime pacifist trading Byronic stanzas with George Orwell to a later career as the planet’s most prominent sexologist is quite the transition. Clocking in at 700 pages, Eric Laursen’s prodigiously researched Polymath: The Life and Professions of Dr. Alex Comfort, Author of the Joy of Sex (AK Press, $34) does its sub- ject full justice.

Elsewhere, I very much liked NB by J.C.: A Walk Through the Times Literary Supplement (Paul Dry Books, $25), a selection of the columns contributed to the UK’s leading literary weekly for over twenty years by the critic and biographer James Campbell.

And I was very impressed by Kathryn Scanlan’s Kick the Latch (New Directions, $18), an immensely hard-edged dispatch from the unsparing world of the American horseracing circuit.

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