Paperback: The Christmas Letters, by Simon Hoggart

Atlantic £7.99
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A few years ago, Hoggart discovered rich material for his column in round-robin letters. This brings together his two collections of these preening missives, dominated by boasts about offspring, ailments and holidays.

He notes: "If these people came to your house and described their trip in such detail, you might wish to set the dogs on them." Musing on their grotesque solipsism, he "finds it puzzling why people send such infuriating letters". Some may also be puzzled about who writes them – this reviewer has only encountered a couple in his entire life – but Hoggart does write for The Guardian.