If suburbia was a religion, The Virgin's Nose would be its bible. Join us on a pilgrimage to the holy land of retirement homes, cul-de-sacs, backyard composters, beer fridges, neighbourhood grocery stores, big box outlets, online dating, reality TV, and dry cleaners. Along the way, we pay homage to the late David Foster Wallace when his novel, Infinite Jest, becomes a weapon in a brutal killing. An artist's colonoscopy brings us face to face with a sublime wellspring of inspiration. A father contemplates life's great mysteries when he discovers a severed finger in his vacuum cleaner. We learn of a secret aisle in Wal*Mart where you can pay less to ... well ... um live better? And we have the title piece, The Virgin's Nose, where we travel to the Vatican to return a stolen relic. With 34 fresh stories, David Allan Barker's second collection of short fiction continues a project he launched with Sex With Dead People - to seek out and share the most weirdly banal corners of this modern world we've made for ourselves.
Read alsoSophia Jex-Blake
Sophia Jex-Blake led the campaign that won for British women the right to enter the medical profession. Before taking up this cause she had studied women's education in England, Germany and the United states, and rejected the popular contemporary view that higher education would be wasted on women. Her medical crusade in Britain resulted in…