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Angus Wilson’s first volume of short stories, The Wrong Set was first published in 1949 to immense critical acclaim.
The collection is a brilliantly funny exposure of the protective devices with which people seek to mask deep-laid egotism.
There is the wallowing in self-adulation on the part of the ‘crazy Cockshott family’, as they delight to dub themselves. There is the search for really nice standards on the part of Vi, singer at the ‘Passion Fruit’ nightclub – as hopelessly bemused a spirit as ever lived in sin at Earl’s Court and attempted to lecture a young Communist nephew with untidy hair and spectacles. There is the humbug of the bullying new curator at the provincial Art Gallery. And the staff dance at the South Kensington hotel, where lives the lady who spends her life trying to achieve ‘a Knightsbridge appearance on a Kensington purse’, and where, as the evening progresses and the drinks begin to tell, the lady-like façades and gentlemanly courtesy of the clientele crack up with a vengeance.
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