Every novelist is an assembly of his own characters. Hughes (The Joke of the Century, 1986, etc.) here has the inspiration to make all of his characters himself. In this anti-story, he's his own publisher's literary editor, the coquettish Davina Darley (David/Davina), and he's a Sunday newspaper's literary editor, Hugh Dickinson, Dickinson being a Hughes family name. David wants to write The Little Book as an uplift for his wife, who almost surely will outlive him--he's had a nephritic kidney removed, and its tumor has possibly metastasized. The doctor told him only to go out and live life to the full, suggesting that there may not be much of it left. While recovering at a summer house on the Isle of Wight, then, David beings telling us about the ideal autobiographical book he can't and won't write, meant as the sheaf for his beloved. Of course, he wants it to be almost voluptuously frank and honest--which might very well defeat his purpose in writing it. And so these other vaguely disguised variations on himself take over and live his secret life for him, the one he means to reveal without hurting his ideal reader, who is you, the reader, David Hughes in the second person, and his wife. There are The Little Book's dullish publication party, botched reviews, sluggish sales during a heat wave, readers nodding off, and a quick slide toward oblivion. David lamentably finds himself mingled with sottish figures who must be removed from his book. Oxford professor Latimer (another Hughes family name) Johns explains that The Little Book is about the misery and grief of lost contact with the passing instant. Every fresh and achy detail seems as if felt on the last day of Hughes's life.