Cobbery

Julian Barnes

  • A Classical Education by Richard Cobb
    Chatto, 156 pp, £9.95, April 1985, ISBN 0 7011 2936 0
  • Still Life: Sketches from a Tunbridge Wells Childhood by Richard Cobb
    Chatto, 161 pp, £3.95, April 1985, ISBN 0 7012 1920 3

On a damp October evening last year this man robbed me of £15,000. The sum was tax free, so you could round it up to £20,000. Wineglass in hand, black tie at the throat, he also robbed four other novelists of the same sum – four others also musing, no doubt, on kitchen extensions, snooker tables, deep freezes and pulsing foreign holidays (though what we piously say to the press, of course, is ‘We need the money to make the time to write the next book in’). A cool £100,000, whisked away in a few seconds by this modern Raffles. Reading A Classical Education, I would occasionally start, and think: ‘Hey, this guy stole my snooker table. And my air tickets.’ Odd, then, to keep returning to the book with benevolence and admiration.

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