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12 June 2014 | by Edward St Aubyn

 
He was, he acknowledged wearily, something of a writers’ writer; his wry, waspish semi-autobiographical novels were far more highly esteemed by his fellow scribes than read by the Richard and Judy-following public. When he was eventually shortlisted for a major award, many of the literati expressed surprise and disappointment that he did not win. He shared neither their surprise nor their disappointment. Frankly, it was a relief not to be the star of a three-ring circus presided over by a superannuated intelligence chief.Then it occurred to him. Would not the whole farcical business make an admirable subject for a comic novel? It would certainly put the cat among the pigeons. There would, of course, be the accusations of sour grapes, but he would rise effortlessly above them.It woul




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