This collection, published a year after Alan Coren’s untimely death in October, 2007, is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining volume. Edited by Coren’s son Giles and daughter Victoria, Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks: The Essential Alan Coren features pieces from across forty years of writing, for the various papers or for Punch, which Coren edited in the 1970s and ’80s. It’s a good book for casual laughter, bedtime reading, or just ploughing through, careening from joke to pun to wry observation.
Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks is organized by decade, from Coren’s early writing in the 1960s, the fecund 1970s, and the News Quiz years of the ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s. Those who listened to him on Radio 4, or saw him on television, will undoubtedly hear his voice in every single piece (with the possible exceptions of the Idi Amin section, where historical and cultural sensitivity might be in for a nasty collision). There was always a sharpness to Coren’s writing, mingled with a diablerie and a sense of fun.
Introductions from the likes of Mervyn Bragg and Stephen Fry give a sense of just how much Alan Coren was a fixture of British life and culture, and how much he is missed. The News Quiz hasn’t been the same without him, and maybe it shouldn’t be. But reading back through these pieces, it’s easy to see why, although life goes on, it does so a bit more grudgingly. Highly recommended.
Find your copy of Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks, available from booksellers worldwide, at AbeBooks.com (title links directly to search results).