Ambition, by Julie Burchill
What’s a girl gotta do to land a plum job as editor of the Sunday Best, Britain’s top tabloid? After dispatching the incumbent via a sex and amphetamine-induced heart attack, slutty and ruthless Susan Street thought she had it in the bag. But the paper’s new owner, fearsome Tobias Pope, quickly establishes his dominance, setting Susan a few unconventional tasks before she can claim the prize. Soon Susan has to plumb depths of depravity that even she couldn’t have imagined. Two decades before Fifty Shades of Grey, Julie Burchill’s bonkbuster featured two protagonists locked in a dominant-submissive relationship, but here the stakes are higher, the sex is raunchier and the plot even more outrageous. Susan’s odyssey takes in Rio, New York and – very 1980s – Sun City; at each stop, she must perform ever-kinkier sex acts with various people while her boss watches. When Burchill isn’t making her leading lady drop her knickers as she crawls up the career ladder, she’s dropping brand names or ranting about socialism, feminism, troilism, or whatever. The sexual twists and turns in the plot are supremely silly, but Burchill’s shoot-from-the-hip prose keeps everything trotting along to its naughty climax. Back in 1989, this sent out all the wrong messages about women in the workplace; now, it just seems quaintly off-message.