OH NO. NOT a novel with an index. The heart sinks at such vaunted smart-arsery, or at least that's the normal reaction. But Philips Hensher is no normal writer, and even the index of his new, indexed comic novel is funny. 'Bible, relationship between Northern Line and, 114 . . . Horses, scarcity of in Brornley, 71 . . . The Tablet, enthusiasm of for sexual perversion, 30'. Not only is he genuinely funny, but he's always up to something new. Last time around it was the splendid Imperial door-stopper, The Mulberry Empire, and now it's an almost unclassifiable, unsettling, contemporary novel about a man with hiccups.
John, the narrator, is married to Janet. ('Yes, yes, we are called Janet and John. We know.') He works as an indexer, of such books as Haddock: The Story of the Fish Which Changed the World, the kind of shallow pseudohistory currently so enjoyed by the general reader (including your