Young American novelist Jonathan Safran-Foer recently took a break from writing ruthlessly well-written novels to fire off a polemic against the production and distribution of meat in these our so-called modern times. The book is called Eating Animals – and you can buy it just about anywhere.

One is reminded, inevitably, of the Dutch author Martine der Lardon’s decision in 2003 to follow two best-selling fantasy novels with a lengthy exposé of the shampoo industry. This book was called Hair Today: A History of Shampoo – and is much less readily available (for reasons beyond my control).

Truth be told, I remember reading der Lardon’s work when it first came out, but I can recall little of its content. The first line, however, I will never forget. ‘Sham, poo: an apposite  name if I ever heard one‘ was how it ran. The rest of the book, you might say, writes itself.

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