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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 24 August 2009
It's difficult to express how much of a joy this collection of works from the long career of Alan Coren's is because any kind of superlative prose can only seem inadequate when compared to writing of this artfulness and quality. Suffice it to say that some of these pieces are laugh-out-loud funny, many of them you just feel the need to read out loud to whoever is within earshot just so you can share their brilliance and sheer exuberant eloquence, and pretty much all of them will leave you in a pleasantly thoughtful frame of mind.

I did find that I preferred the later shorter pieces, probably as they overlapped more with events in my own lifetime, and it seemed that age did not wither that amazing wit. When Mr Coren got older he got sharper, pithier and funnier. It's all just so amazingly well written that sometimes you can't believe quite how good it is. The targets - both big and small - are dealt with an inimitable stylishness that seems effortless but comes from someone who was truly an expert at what he did. Some of my personal favourites are about the absurdities of suburban living - like over-ambitious dinner party menus, over-competitive bridge partners, or the sheer over-optimistic hopefulness involved in just trying to make it to the theatre on time - but there's so much more to this collection than that and so many more topics that are touched upon that you're bound to find something to enjoy here.

85 pieces from across over four decades of writing cannot but scratch the surface of the imaginings of this master wordsmith, but this selection does make for a very enjoyable read. Introductions to the various decades from Melvyn Bragg, Victoria Wood, Clive James, A. A. Gill and Stephen Fry show the quality of his fans and influence. His (rather fabulous) offspring, Giles and Victoria, also pitch in with a fondly observed introduction perhaps proving, at the very least, that genius might just have something of the genetic about it.
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on 10 October 2008
Very funny and surprisingly informative. Coren is a wonderful writer and a lot of what he has to say is intelligent and genuinely interesting as well as funny. Well recommended.
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on 9 September 2010
I never really took to Coren on the radio. I could tell he had a very amusing side to his approach to life, but somehow he didn't gel with me. It was with some reluctance I accepted the loan of Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks as something to read in bed when staying overnight with friends in London. Well!!! I hardly know what to say now!!! I don't think I have ever laughed so much and so often in my seventy plus years! I enjoyed the small parts I read in London so much I had to order the book as soon as I got home - the following day.

The book arrived a few days later (thanks Welly bob books) and I began it from the beginning - as one should. I laughed myself to sleep night after night, to the annoyance of my wife. Tears streaming from my eyes, I had to limit my reading to one article a night or I might have had a heart attack.

This book is sooo funny! I take back everything less than polite I may have said about Coren before I found this book. I now rate him somewhat ahead of my heretofore champion Bill Bryson.

Get this book of Alan Coren's before it is snapped up! If you have the slightest sense of humour you will laugh yourself silly - as my wife is now doing!!! Five stars are just not enough. Sadly Coren has recently passed away, but if you hear celestial laughter you can bet the Angels are going through my experience.
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on 2 August 2009
A wonderful collection of writing. Funny but also good for the mind. Coren's ability to immitate and translate makes such a good read: royalty on days off, what estate agents would make of the Doomsday book, why poetry meant that Postman Pat could not have a black and white dog. This is a sideways, upside down glance at the world. The impossible and implausible is considered as actuality with a great commentary on what is happening currently appearing magically (or so it seems).

I would recommend this book. It is a great read and takes the reader through decades of work. Sometimes it sounds a little dated, but that is what it is...of its time. It is good to see how language and behaviours have changed (or not).
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VINE VOICEon 13 January 2011
No, I'm not just helpless with laughter - I am apoplectic with it! I have to take time out from reading Alen Coren just to get my breath back. If laughter is the best medicine, this book is worth several hundredweight of happy pills. I can remember reading "The Unnatural History of Selborne" once in the dentist's waiting room and I can issue this health warning: "Reading Alan Coren in public can seriously damage your gravitas!" Five stars are definitely too little to award to this genius of humour. I've been reading the book on my brand new Kindle and I have one gripe: where's the title index, eh, Kindle book producers? I wanted to find "The Unnatural History of Selborne" in the index but there isn't one and I've since discovered that my adored article isn't included in this compendium so I've had to buy another compendium of Alan CorenAlan Coren Omnibus: The Master Humorist's Choice from Five Classic Collections just for that piece. It's a hard life but someone's got to live it! :-)
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on 12 January 2015
I was drawn to this book by the writings of Victoria Coren, the authors daughter, who was involved in bring together this anthology of her fathers work. Not my type of humour, unfortunately, but still well worth reading. This book shocked me, I had not realised how much dross and lazy writing is produced by journalists in their columns and articles and passed off as clever comment. This book will simply make you appreciate how clever, witty and well written the english language can be, when done well. A different league. Recommended.
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on 5 December 2013
A good collection of Alan Coren work, compiled by his children. As it is a compilation, and obviously to their taste, it misses some of the pieces that I thought hilarious, such as the food additive piece, "Those Disturbing Additives" but a good compilation all the same.
There are some of the Idi Amin pieces, which are interesting in that in these politically correct times they probably would not have been allowed in print.
Indeed the whole book carries a superb patina of the humour of his time, when it was inventively funny, as opposed to much of today's so-called humour, which is just rude or abusive commentary.
A gentle book from a funny gentleman.

Malcolm Parkin
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on 30 December 2013
Brilliant selection of some of Alan Coren's best stories, many previously published in Punch. Coren was of course arguably the best comedy writer of the late 20th Century and there are very few indeed who come even close to equalling his abilities. If you are new to Coren then this collection is an excellent introduction to his works. If you are already a fan of Coren then this book reminds you of just why he is so brilliant. My only criticism of this collection is that it is so short, albeit roughly a full length 'standard' book. I would have loved to have more in the collection but then one can never have too much of Alan Coren!
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on 26 June 2012
Not too many things make me laugh out loud, but some of these essays have done just that. Coren's love of language and his erudition shine through, and it further gives a wonderful reminder of the years when he was writing. The only sad thing, for his many fans but more for his family, is that he is now no more. I am sure he would be delighted that his children decided to put this book together.
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on 6 January 2009
With Alan Corens books you always smile throughout the story and in the end you burst into laughter.
Its a brilliant collection which I highly recommend for fans of Alan or fans of short stories in general.
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