It is embarrassing to have to admit to discovering a new writer over thirty years late, but I have just read T. Coraghessan Boyle’s Descent of Man, and I am hooked. To quote the blurb: ‘In seventeen slices of life that defy the expected and launch us into the absurd, Boyle offers his unique view of the world. A primate-center researcher becomes romantically involved with a chimp; a Norse poet overcomes bard-block; collectors compete to snare the ancient Aztec beer can, Quetzalcoatal Lite; and Lassie abandons Timmy for a randy coyote.’ Bard-block! Wonderful! There is poetry – ‘light dropped like a stone in a pool of oil’ – but mostly there is black humour, extraordinary fantasy and mordant social satire. In ‘Green Hell’, for example, ‘The pilot breaks the news: we’ve come down in the heart of the Amazon basin, hundreds perhaps thousands of miles from the nearest toilet.’ The advantage of coming to things late is that one can admire their prescience: the reductio ad absurdum of eating contests in ‘The Champ’ , for example, has since come all too close to the truth.