Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks: The Essential Alan Coren, ed Giles and Victoria Coren

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The Independent Culture

The cuckoo clock was invented solely to give tourists something solid to remember Switzerland by, wrote Alan Coren, since the country's national products of snow and chocolate both melt. Here, readers have something solid to remember Alan Coren by in this engaging collection thoughtfully edited by his children – in fact, it is possible to see those thought processes, as the introduction comprises a dialogue of decision-making between the siblings about the contents of the compilation. Sections are affectionately introduced by Melvyn Bragg, Victoria Wood, Clive James, AA Gill and Stephen Fry. But it is Coren's voice that shines through most forcefully.

It was an inspirational teacher who encouraged this son of a hairdresser and a plumber to join the local library, paving the way to Oxford, the authorship of more than 20 books, the editorship of Punch, and his prolific career in comic writing, captured here.

It isn't only snow and chocolate that melt away, but lives, too. The warmth and wit of these pieces stand the test of time.

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