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1. Everyday Drinking: The Distilled
2. Lucky Jim (Penguin Modern Classics)
3. Old Devils: A Novel
4. Lucky Jim (Penguin Classics)
5. Ending Up
6. Green Man The
7. Collected Short Stories
8. The King's English : A Guide to
9. Girl, 20
10. I Like it Here
11. Lucky Jim
12. Take a Girl Like You
13. Rudyard Kipling (Literary Lives
14. Lucky Jim: a Rollicking Misadventure
15. The Life of Kingsley Amis
16. Memoirs
17. The Letters of Kingsley Amis
18. The Alteration
19. The Anti-death League
20. The Golden Age of Science Fiction

1. Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis
by Kingsley Amis
Paperback: 320 Pages (2010-04-27)
list price: US$10.00 -- used & new: US$4.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1596916281
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Here is the beloved, bestselling compendium of Kingsley Amis's wisdom on the cherished subject of drinking. Along with a series of well-tested recipes (including a cocktail called the Lucky Jim) the book includes Amis's musings on The Hangover, The Boozing Man's Diet, The Mean Sod's Guide, and (presumably as a matter of speculation) How Not to Get Drunk--all leavened with fun quizzes on the making and drinking of alcohol all over the world. Mixing practical know-how and hilarious opinionation, this is a delightful cocktail of wry humor and distilled knowledge, served by one of our great gimlet wits. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars Whether you drink or not, this one's for you.
Wonderful collection of thoughts on drinks and drinking. For the tippler, a useful antidote to to over-fruited, over-proof drinks currently in fashion. The drinks here are the classics. Learn to make them and try them and you will never have a raspberry martini again; you will want the real McCoy. Wonderful chapters on the hangover, how to stop drinking, and why to start again. They may surprise you. For the teetotaler, a great anthropological journey into a forbidden world where you will have a chance to understand that strange tribe, the drinkers (as opposed to the drunks) without giving up your principles. But, beware, you might succumb.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Classic Not to be Missed.
This is a great and funny reminder that drinking culture has a high end, too. As liquor brands and quality wine have expanded, these essays are a bit out of date but nonetheless discuss the enduring fundamentals of good drink. If you enjoy reminiscent pieces like Mad Men, you'll enjoy this. It belongs next to your bartenders guide.Denial of Sunlight

5-0 out of 5 stars Have it instead of a drink!
The value of this concoction (using Amis's favourite term) is, that it will certainly make you more picky about drinks on different occasions, even without being a true drink connoisseur. The book has three separate parts, so the concoction it is.

The first, "On a drink", includes the most famous cocktail recepies. An advice there is given on how to avoid waisting good and expensive drinks in various mixtures. The chapters on hangover and how not to get drunk really deserve to be copied and pinned on one's fridge. In the second part "Every day drinking", Amis in a most interesting, but unostentatious way presents various drinks, their history and after-effects. The third part contains a quiz. To follow it from the beginning to the end and to browse through the answers, one will certainly need at least two bookmarks. Very rich and informative. All in all, a great book, which will make even total abstainers, while reading, to wear an occasional sour smile.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Comic Masterpiece
Everyday Drinking is enormously enjoyable, perhaps inevitably, as it combines the author's skill as a comic writer with a subject for which he has great enthusiasm. The chapter devoted to the hangover justifies the purchase in itself.
It must be said that in places it is obviously a product of its context (1970s Britain) which makes some of the advice seem quaint and one or two remarks out of step with contemporary (PC) values.
But if you enjoy drinking and the conviviality associated with it, then you almost certainly have a good sense of humor and will love it.

4-0 out of 5 stars fun times
If you like to read about drinking this may be where you want to start. Hilarious! I often find English humor funny to begin with but the chapter on how to throw a wine party is classic. ... Read more

2. Lucky Jim (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Kingsley Amis
Paperback: 272 Pages (2000-05-25)
list price: US$14.20 -- used & new: US$7.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141182598
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Jim Dixon has accidentally fallen into a job at one of Britain's new red brick universities. A moderately successful future in the History Department beckons. As long as Jim can survive a madrigal-singing weekend at Professor Welch's, deliver a lecture on 'Merrie England' and resist Christine, the hopelessly desirable girlfriend of Welch's awful son Bertrand. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars "His spirits were so low he wanted to lie down and pant like a dog."
LUCKY JIM is generally regarded to be a classic of English 20th-Century humor (the British branch).My recent re-reading of the novel, about 35 years after the first time I read it, confirms that reputation.

Not until the end of the novel does the reader understand why the protagonist, Jim Dixon, deserves the tag "Lucky Jim."For most of the novel he is a colossally inept and virtually spineless academic wannabe, who lets his life be manipulated and his psyche buffeted about by a gaggle of thoroughly unpleasant people. Near the end of the novel, shortly after the sentence quoted as the title for this review, Jim's fortunes improve immeasurably, not so much because of anything he does or any transformation in his character, but rather due to a couple fortuitous instances of deus ex machina.(LUCKY JIM is a comedy, and thus such improbabilities are acceptable.)

In his introduction to this edition, David Lodge states that LUCKY JIM was the first "British campus novel," and, indeed, much of it revolves around the shallow pretentiousness of academia.But the real target of Amis's wit -- when it is directed outwards, away from Jim Dixon -- is the British upper-middle-class in all its pomposity and hide-bound conventionality.The funniest passages, however, all deal with Jim Dixon and his foibles and insecurities and, especially, his drinking.(The description of Jim's hangover may be the best, and the funniest, such description I have ever encountered.)

More on David Lodge's introduction:It unfortunately is an example of a problem that afflicts many introductions to "classic" novels.Some of Lodge's introduction, just shy of the first eight pages, would be quite helpful if read before beginning the novel itself.But the rest of this "introduction" contains much that will spoil the plot, and thus much of the fun, for a first-time reader.(So if you are a first-time reader, be forewarned.)As with so many introductions, it should have been divided in two: a true "introduction" that helps orient the prospective reader but does not give away too much, reserving commentary on the plot and especially the ending for an "afterword" at the conclusion of the novel.

Whether you are a first-time or a returning reader, you can look forward to a very funny book, despite the fact that the passage of time has, I fear, dimmed its comedic luster a little.To my mind LUCKY JIM does not really qualify as "literature", but it is a highly entertaining, and literate, comedy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Older but Never Dated
I think you simply have to be an academic to fully enjoy the comedy of Lucky Jim. Not that the jokes lost any of their flair over last half a century, Jim's misfortunes have a slapstick quality to them which can be funny even in Elizabethan comedies. Their full quality, however, is visible only to people who have had some experience with the world of academy. Yet there is a lot for every reader even living in safety far away from the world lead by the watchword "publish or perish".
I always tell my students who explain to me how good it is to be a university professor to read this book. So why shouldn't you try?

4-0 out of 5 stars Just A Funny Book
"Lucky Jim" is one of those books that has gotten less politically correct in the fifty or so years since it was written. Somehow it has avoided becoming too dated.However, reading Kingsley Amis's debut novel, there is the feeling that Amis himself would be delighted to hear that his book is considered sexist.

James "Jim" Dixon, the story's central character, is a quirky sort of anti-hero: well-meaning but selfish, he is conniving, spineless, and works just enough to keep his job.Despite it all, Dixon is quite is likeable. A junior lecturer at one of the new universities being built all over Britain in the 1950 and 60's, Dixon has an over-bearing boss, one Professor Welch, and a pathetic but psychotically manipulative girlfriend, Margot. To make matters worse, Margot lives with the Welches as part of her emotional blackmail of Dixon.

When Dixon is invited to a medieval "artsy" weekend at the Welch's country home, he is put in contact with Professor Welch's pretentiously artistic family. This includes his obnoxious son, Bertrand, an artist more interested in acting a part than actually painting.Dixon also meets Bertrand's non-committal girlfriend, who is not nearly so objectionable.

While it's a little formulaic, zaniness ensues.The thing with "Lucky Jim" is that it doesn't matter if the story is formulaic.The book is a good read.It's not just the laugh-out-loud parts, but that the whole story is funny. It's so well told that you can't wait to see how all this foolishness gets tied up.

Silly British campus foolishness it is though. This isn't for fans of in-your-face, shock comedy. This is England of the 1950's; everyone is very polite, but this desire not to be rude that is part of the fun. No one is able to come right out and speak plainly, so the comic action keeps spinning further and further from its center through country weekends, school dances, and what must be every pub in a college town.

"Lucky Jim" is a good debut from one of the more influential comic writers of the last century.Read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Young academics' must-read
This book was recommended to me wisely by several young (in their career) academics. It was so good that I wish I had saved it an extra year until I was going through the inevitable torment of the job hunt, and the various disgusting tangles academic life involves. I highly recommend this novel for some perspective on ivory tower ambitions and all the failed attempts.

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't read this on a plane
You will be hooting with laughter, disturbing your seatmates, and causing consternation among the flight attendants.This book is amazingly funny.But you will need some working knowledge of British academia to 'get it'.Which means, if you know the difference between a 'grammar school' and a 'comprehensive',you can feel sort of snobby while you chortle hysterically.Plus, if you like the work of Martin Amis (Kingsley's son, for those of you who don't know your 'grammars' from 'comps'), you can now have one of those real 'aha' moments: as in 'I see!THIS is where he gets it!'. ... Read more

3. Old Devils: A Novel
by Kingsley Amis
Paperback: 294 Pages (1988-03)
list price: US$7.95 -- used & new: US$75.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060971460
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Winner of the 1986 Booker Prize. Malcolm, Peter and Charlie and their Soave-sodden wives have one main ambition left in life: to drink Wales dry. But their routine is both shaken and stirred when they are joined by professional Welshman Alun Weaver (CBE) and his wife, Rhiannon. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars Patience required
It took some time, but the characters in The Old Devils--elderly friends in South Wales who spend most of their time discussing the condition of being Welsh--grew on me as I worked my way through the chapters.Amis is a master of dry wit.I'm sure I would have a deeper appreciation of the humor in The Old Devils if I knew more about Wales or the Welsh.Fortunately, Amis found a number of other targets for his wit that transcend nationality:lecherous old men, the women who encourage them, gossips, hypocrites, drinkers, academics and poets among them.He also teases wonderfully comic moments from malfunctioning bowels, adulterous desires, social posturing, road trips, and inebriation.

Most of the central characters in the ensemble cast have full and distinct personalities and unique sets of behaviors.Some of the personalities are quirky, some introspective.Most are repressed but some manage to experience and display emotions.Some are funny and some are a little sad and most are sometimes a little annoying--but who isn't?That seems to be one of the points Amis explicitly attempted to make.It took me awhile to start caring about these people but by the middle of the novel I was hooked on them.They became kind of like the relative you care about but don't want to visit very often.I give Amis props for making them so convincing.

This isn't a plot-driven novel.The story unfolds at a leisurely pace, following slow-moving people with aging minds and bodies.Other than a couple of big events, both near the end of the book, nothing much happens.I wouldn't call it plodding but I wouldn't say the writing is lively either.If you are in a mood to be patient, the characters and the fun Amis has with them make the novel worth reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars The foibles, follies, and infirmities of age
THE OLD DEVILS won the Booker Prize for Kingsley Amis in 1986.The title refers to an ensemble of six couples, all of whom are in their sixties (as was Amis when he wrote the novel).It is set in South Wales, where five of the couples have lived their adult lives.(One motif of the novel is a gentle spoofing of Wales and the Welsh.) The action kicks off with the return to Wales of the sixth couple, the Weavers, from London.Alun Weaver is an inveterate womanizer and, off and on, he has been the paramour of two of the other wives, while Rhiannon Weaver had been the youthful heartthrob of two of the husbands.Their return releases a certain frisson amongst the old devils - making for something resembling a John Updike novel, only British, more genteel, and less sexually explicit.

Thus, a second motif has to do with the return to (or remembrance of) the flings and flames of youth. For most, this turns out to be a variation in the never-ending state of war - or, at best, state of misunderstanding and confusion - between the sexes.But the dominant theme of the novel is the slackening of age - such things as bowel movements, disintegrating teeth, increasing mass, the ordeal of dressing, and a haphazard memory.And virtually everyone - male or female - anesthetizes the onset of old age and its aches and pains with liberal, daily doses of alcohol.

None of the characters is heroic, but all are human.Amis exposes their foibles, follies, and infirmities, but he does so gently, compassionately, with wisdom and, always, with understated humor.Almost every page is marked with dry wit, such as this random example:"His second large Scotch and dry ginger was beginning to get to him and already he could turn his head without thinking it over first.Soon it might cease to be one of those days that made you sorry to be alive."

When I first read THE OLD DEVILS in 1987, I enjoyed it.Now I hesitate to use the word "enjoy".It hits a little too close to home, and I ruefully see myself a little more frequently than I would like.Thus, I think it safe to say that the novel will be most appreciated by those in the autumn of their lives.Unfortunately, as of this posting, the novel appears to be out of print.It may itself be middle-aged as a work of literature (it is not one of the immortal classics), but it doesn't deserve the fate of such an early demise.4-1/2 stars.

4-0 out of 5 stars AMIS THE WRITING
Kingsley Amis was into his 60's when this book appeared, I am almost out of mine by now so I thought it was time I read it, and I am very pleased that I have. If you know Amis's style you will find this novel very typical of it. If you don't know his style it is still very typical of it. It is ironic without being too heavy or tendentious, it is beautifully easy to read, its outlook is individual and there is real human sympathy behind the show of being unsentimental.

I greatly liked the setting, a rural community in South Wales harbouring a small colony of cod-Welsh literary poseurs. How `authentic' the scenario may be I have really no idea, but that is not a problem for the reader I wouldn't say. The narrative hardly looks outside the little group of sexagenarians (those male these feminine), and even their part-time-Welshness is not laboured unduly. It all makes an original and entertaining backdrop to what the story is really about, namely how life is for this particular group at their age. To such extent as the book has a `hero' it is the prodigal literary pundit son back from England with his name changed from Alan to Alun, but even if he provides a focal point for the little caucus to come closer again, I had the impression that they had always been a fairly cohesive group, with or without Alun. Even when they get thrown out of not one pub but two, this happens to them en bloc, and presumably the thing had happened before.

Plenty of the action takes place in pubs, the amount of boozing that goes on generally had me daunted not to say plain scared, but only one person dies and there is no real hint that he died of that. Only two of the characters put the sex in sexagenarian, and that theme does not amount to a lot. The book is almost non-stop talking, the network of communication that holds the group together as a group, something one senses is vital to their existence now that not much vitality remains in their relationships as couples. Amis has an eye for the absurd and a gift for describing absurdity in an entertaining way without outright hostility. These are his own folk at least in the matter of age, he can take a look at them and see himself, and he can see the ridiculous side of the whole scene without outright cynicism.

What age you have to be to get the best value out of this book I would not be knowing. Even ten years ago I strongly suspect I would have missed some of the best things about it, but that only speaks to my own limitations. In any case, as I said already the book is extremely easy to read. Perhaps it is just a trifle too easy and too accomplished to be quite Amis's best effort. Some of his zanier productions like The Green Man or The Anti-Death League are not so evenly good as is The Old Devils, but I will happily trade some evenness for the wilder imaginative elements that I find in those. However that is a matter of going through the ritual of assessment after finally closing the book. When reading this novel I was not disturbed or even visited by thoughts of any other novel whether by Amis or by anyone. I enjoyed it thoroughly, I recommend it to my and its characters' age-bracket, and I should be surprised if it does not appeal to many younger readers, especially if they have come to appreciate this author from some of his best-sellers.

4-0 out of 5 stars Let Us Now Praise Alun Weaver
A great book it may not quite be, but the character of Alun Weaver is worth the price of admission. He's the "professional Welshman" with the mane of snow-white hair who gets paid to wax nostalgic on TV and radio about Wales and its famous poet, Brydan -- Brydan being a deceased lout clearly modeled on Dylan Thomas.

Alun's a phony and a womanizer and yet still the irresistable alpha male in his little group of friends. Everything is more fun (and less predictable) when he's around, even if he might try to get your wife alone in the back room when you aren't looking.

The great comic scenes in the book all involve Alun, his line of smooth, practiced public patter about Wales and about Brydan, and his private contempt for Wales, for Brydan, and possibly himself.

Here he is brushing off an overeager fan of Brydan's from Bethgelert, Pennsylvania:

"Dear, dear, there are Welshmen all over the world, aren't there?Saxons, give up hope of finding a pie under the sun that we harmless folk don't contrive to slide our sly fingers into. Carry my warmest cousinly greetings to the Celts of Bethgelert, Mr. Pugh."

Later, when the fan proves too persistent, Weaver drops the persona just long enough to see him off for good with a harsh, funny expletive and an obscene gesture.

Other reviewers mention not being familiar with Wales, but I'm not sure that's such a handicap here. The wisecracks about Wales and Welshmen are from characters who love and hate their provincial home turf, as many people do for reasons of their own no matter what the town or country. Don't let that stop you from reading this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars good enough
In my quest to finish off the Booker Prize winners, the book award I respect the most, I picked up a copy of the hard-to-find "Old Devils" by Kingsley Amis.
The action takes place in Wales where Malcom, Peter and Charlie and their wives find out that Alun Weaver - Welsh poet of note and his wife Rhiannon are returning to live out their twilight years amongst old friends and surroundings.
A nice simple setup for ruminating about the past, gossiping, sneaking around, plenty of boozing and other shenanigans.
However, I must say that I was disappointed. There is some humour; there is some poignant scenes but, overall, I was left unsatisfied.
My copy was almost 400 pages and yet Amis left many of his characters two dimensional - especially the women. Also, I found myself yearning for more background on the characters.
A little depressing too, when people in their "golden years" have little left to do but stay drunk all day.
As an American reader and subtle jokes about Welsh vs. English got by me.
I can recommend this book. It's accessible and intelligent and, at times,
humorous and touching. I expected more but "The Old Devils" is good enough. ... Read more

4. Lucky Jim (Penguin Classics)
by Kingsley Amis
Paperback: 251 Pages (1993-09-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140186301
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In his send-up of the academic world, the author poked fun at the British way of life, and gave post-war fiction a new and enduring figure to laugh at.Amazon.com Review
Although Kingsley Amis's acid satire of postwar Britishacademic life has lost some of its bite in the four decades since itwas published, it's still a rewarding read. And there's no denying howbig an impact it had back then--Lucky Jim could be consideredthe first shot in the Oxbridge salvo that brought us Beyond theFringe, That Was the Week That Was, and so much more.

In Lucky Jim, Amis introduces us to Jim Dixon, a juniorlecturer at a British college who spends his days fending off thelegions of malevolent twits that populate the school. His job is inconstant danger, often for good reason. Lucky Jim hits theheights whenever Dixon tries to keep a preposterous situation fromspinning out of control, which is every three pages or so. The finalexample of this--a lecture spewed by a hideously pickled Dixon--is achapter's worth of comic nirvana. The book is not politically correct(Amis wasn't either), but take it for what it is, and you won't bedisappointed. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (78)

2-0 out of 5 stars New Kindle Reader
I returned the above Kindle - had to wait some weeks for delivery since your Order Department was so backed up!!! It did not work at all for us.We have another Kindle purchased two years ago and it worked perfectly.The problems were:

We could not download books
This Kindle kept asking for a password and when we offered
various ones it responded with "not enough symbols", and
It will not turn off - stays in "sleep" mode.

Yesterday we spent most of the day talking to your reps. who were not at all knowledgable (Fernando, Matt, and a host of others from God knows where and, incidentally who refuse to give their surnames for unknown reasons.We only wanted their full names so we could ask for the same person, after being cut off many times while they checked with some "higher authority", then we had to redial because they didn't know enough to play some music or make other sounds - to avoid our being "cut off", because, as you know, if there is only "silence" during the long waits, the phone goes dead.And, as you also know, these many long distance phone calls and "time" costs us money.We are senior citizens and treasure our pennies.

Finally,the last rep, who was as frustrated as we were, E-mailed a stamped addressed return label and we sent it back.We asked for our money back.

Sent by Rosemary L. Conger

4-0 out of 5 stars Good But Not As Great As I Was Expecting
This book received rave reviews from every source I consulted before deciding to read it.I was enjoying earlier English fiction and had just finished good bits of Wodehouse, Benson and Mitford.So I was expecting to like this every bit as much.First, and I usually love British humor, I did not think it was the funniest book I'd ever read as it was touted to be.Jim's lecture speech which he performs drunk is not as half as funny as Gussie Finknottle's in Wodehouse's "Jeeves & Wooster" series. Second, the romance aspect I could have done without entirely.It seemed to interfere with the comedic thrust.

What does work is his farce of a college life with the professor in charge of him a real idiot of the first water.Perhaps in the 1950s you could only meet Professor Welch and his artist son Bertrand in England but personally I feel as if I've met their American counterparts many times. The way Jim has to do daily jousting with his fellow lecturers, his students, Welch and others is very good.Even his relations with his students are on the edge.

However, I think on the whole that this book is a bit dated if you read it for the first time in 2010.

4-0 out of 5 stars Loved it
I enjoyed this immensely. Lucky Jim and his manipulations just made me laugh. While it is an old story, it feels timely. ANd I am trying to decide whether I like Kingsley or Martin the most. So far, I like the son better. But this is an enjoyable, not terribly demanding read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not really my cup o' tea,...
this one.This type of humor doesn't tickle my funny rib.And as for his making faces.....I just got a little annoyed at Dixon whenever he turned to this coping mechanism.He did grow on me by the end of the story.All's well that ends well and indeed it did.I am glad I read it.It was worthwhile..just not my personal fave.

1-0 out of 5 stars The Penquin Class contains many serious errors
Do not buy the Penguin version of Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis.It contains many errors introduced by the new publisher.One of
the biggest occurs on p. 250.Four lines down is a paragraph where Jim is thinking of which suburb he should live in when
he moves to London.In the 6th line down, he thinks to himself "Belgrave Square, Wapping, Chelsea. No, not Chelsea."
The error is here and it is huge.The correct version should read: "Belgrave Square, Wapping, Bloomsbury. No, not Bloomsbury."
What makes this error so huge is that Bloomsbury was the favorite enclave of London's writers.So, Jim is refusing to live
where the writers live, and hence Amis, the author, through Jim's thinking, is taking a swipe at all the pretentious authors
in London.This is a very funny line for those keenly interested in Lucky Jim.It is also a bit of an in-joke.This is all destroyed
by Penguin's version which uses Chelsea.There are many other errors, too.Don't buy this edition. ... Read more

5. Ending Up
by Kingsley Amis
Paperback: 176 Pages (1976-04-30)
list price: US$1.95 -- used & new: US$64.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140041516
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Editorial Review

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Beset by boredom and the decay of old age, the septuagenarian inhabitants of Tuppenny-hapenny Cottage find that malice is the best recipe for keeping their spirits alive. And when the grandchildren arrive to do their duty on Christmas Day, the festivities degenerate into an unforeseen riot. ... Read more

6. Green Man The
by Kingsley Amis
Paperback: 252 Pages (2005-08-30)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$48.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0897332202
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (16)

4-0 out of 5 stars AnAuthorWho Deserves to be Rediscovered
I think it's fair to say that Amis has fallen out of fashion.This book is out of print and hasn't been reviewed in years.That is a shame.Your'e missing something by not reading Amis.He was not a profound writer.You won't mistake him for Doestoyevsky or Kafka.What he was, was a sharp ,acerbic observer and a very funny one at that.Amis comes across as a writer who kept depression , even , despair at bay with a mixture of humor,detachment and alcohol.It didn't work too well in his life but it's the basis of some of funniest 20th century fiction your'e likely to read.
I suspect that most people who read Amis have a favorite novel and it's my guess that it usually is LUCKY JIM.I can understand that because LUCKY JIM is a comic masterpiece,it is one the funniest books ever written.However ,I actually prefer THE GREEN MAN.It's a subtler more mature work.The main character Maurice is actually a pretty awful person but I couldn't help laughing at his predicaments(usually self created).Amis liked genre fiction and in this novel he takes a stab at the supernatural.He does a pretty good job at creating a credibly creepy atmosphere.There really is a ghost out there.Maurice even gets to meet God!Yet the novel does not strive for profoundity or philosophical depth, to its credit.Amis is perfectly content to leave that to others.Thus he avoids the deadening pretension and ersatz seriousness of so many lesser writers.Maurices grand project is to have a threesome wth his wife and another woman and much of the novel focuses on this somewhat absurd quest that goes comically awry.
What you get here is an excellently done portrait of the way we live now that throws in a decent ghost story ,some philosophical reflection and a number of laughs.There are very few authors who can carry this off as deftly as Amis.

5-0 out of 5 stars a delightful English comedy/horror
I really enjoyed this book. It starts out as some sort of English comedy -- a guy who owns a pub, has a drinking problem, has health problems, has a marriage problem, has a mistress problem, and has children problems, suddenly starts seeing ghosts.

Of course no one believes him, since he's probably drunk, under stress, or on medication, and it seems the more he tries to get people to believe him, the worse his predicament gets. But as he comes closer to discovering the origins of the name of his pub, The Green Man, the horror starts to take charge over comedy.

The ending is delightful, English, and quite satisfying.

5-0 out of 5 stars The seen and the unseen
I was introduced to the Green Man by my mother. It was her recomendation that led me to read the book. When I did I was rivited.I have been trying to find the interview that speaks to it, but apparently Kingsley Amis had an encounter with a creature like the one that was dipicted in the book.What did they talk about? How offen was he visited? What does Amis think it was? When you read it I feel that you are reading about a true expierience.When the Young Man appears and time stops, who is this? What is he. Is it death? Is he a messenger? Is it God or the Devil or are God and the Devil one in the same? He gives Morris a Cross, why? "He says to Morris you will never be free of me." Is it an expresion of the free will that we have?Morris asks the young man about making life less hard on people, and he says" No prospect of that." We can choose to do good or evil.We are responsible for the choises that we make.We are responsable for aquiring the knowlage of the tree that we were forbiden to eat from.God said when we did eat of the tree of knowlage "you will be as I am" Or is it because we see the experience through Morris's eyes and that we experience his inability to decern due to his prolonged relationship with the bottle.I can tell you from my own expirience with ghosts that their is lifeafter death and that you must be careful, spirits can be good or bad. The novel is superbley written and it is a book that I will read my entire life. I think it is a book that everyone should read. A story of exporation, understanding,true fear, and redemtion.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting mix of horror and satire
Kingsley Amis's 'The Green Man' is an interesting mix of horror and satire. Maurice Allington is the alcoholic owner of The Green Man Inn, whose main preoccupation is trying to convince his wife and mistress to have a menage a trois. The Green Man Inn dates back several centuries and is reputed to be haunted, although Maurice himself had never seen anything in his years as owner, until one night he sees a mysterious red headed woman on his stair. This is followed by the sudden death of his father who appeared to have seen something before dying of a stroke. Other strange occurrences follow, but his doctor and family think they are hallucinations brought on by stress and excessive drinking. Unfortunately the story loses a lot of its momentum when God (appearing as a well dressed young man) pays a visit. The scene is clever and funny, but Amis sacrifices all the suspenseful buildup to write a clever piece of satire. More successful is the character of the agnostic local Anglican priest, although I didn't think Amis explored all the possibilities inherent in that character given the nature of the story. Still a very enjoyable read, just keep in mind it's not a straight horror story.

4-0 out of 5 stars Humor rather than terror was the driving theme of this novel.
An extremely clever well written novel of suspense, The Green Man, is also full of social satire and even some existential metaphysical speculation. The Green Man appears in the ancient religions of the British isles, especially around Druid nature worship, May Day, and the character of Jack of the Greens. Amis takes the usual image of the Green Man, a human character composed of leaves, vines, flowers, twigs. However Amis has this creature become a homicidal monster under the influence of evil, a nice twist on the theme.

I am not sure whether I would call the book a book about terror since only once does the presence of the terrifying conglomeration of twigs and leaves, the Green Man, become threatening. Rather, the narrative follows two parallel suspenseful paths. In one narrative path, Maurice, the owner of a country inn, restaurant, and pub is trying to seduce his neighbor's wife and convince her to engage in a three-way sexual encounter while at the same time trying to convince his young second wife, Joyce, to engage in this activity. His marrage to a hard working, devoted, attractive, adoring wife is falling apart due to Maurice's lack of attention and involvement.

In the other narrative path, first Maurice's father and then Maurice begin to see apparitions of the evil ghost Dr. Thomas Underhill, or the ghost of Underhill's poor murdered red-haired wife, or hears the breaking twigs and branches as the Green Man stalks the inn looking for unlocked doors. Both of these themes are woven skillfully together to ensure the book is a complete page-turner. We ask ourselves, does Maurice get both women into bed? We also ask, does Maurice figure out the nature of the ghosts that are appearing to him?

Amis keeps the reader on our toes since Maurice runs around having sex, taking pills, drinking far too much liquor, investigating the ghosts in his Inn, trying to bury his recently deceased father, and run a customer-oriented service-business. To this add his neglected bored teenaged daughter with whom Maurice never communicates in a genuine manner.Thus we are not sure as to how much of the visions of ghosts are real and how much is produced by the combination of pills and alcohol.

We are treated to a clever conversation between Maurice and the Devil on the nature of existence and death, both of which the Devil can only offer sarcastic and pointed observations but few insights. Amis dresses the Devil in the latest grays and blacks, sounding much more like a runway model than the embodiment of evil. We are also treated to Maurice's encounters with an agnostic know-it-all Church of England priest.Amis' descriptions of this priest are almost are priceless as Jane Austen's insightful descriptions of Reverend Collins in Pride and Prejudice, where the priest is a very foolish character. However a priest can perform exorcism, whether he believes in it or not, and a exorcism is eventually needed in this drama.

While having sex in the woods, drinking excessively all day, and keeping customers happy in the Inn, Maurice tries to study and track down the secrets around Dr. Thomas Underhill. Solving this mystery gets increasingly dangerous and suspenseful. Despite the alcoholism, Maurice is actually an extremely clever man, which is certainly lucky for him when he tries to outwit the ghost of Dr. Underhill, an apparition that we come to see as increasingly evil and dangerous with each page.

This book is highly recommended. It is well crafted and thoughtful and fully entertaining. The suspense is balanced with off-beat witty sarcastic humor which at times made me laugh out loud. I found the humor rather than the terror was the driving force behind the novel, which is a good attribute.

... Read more

7. Collected Short Stories
by Kingsley Amis
 Paperback: 304 Pages (1994-06)
list price: US$22.40
Isbn: 0140066152
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8. The King's English : A Guide to Modern Usage
by Kingsley Amis
Paperback: 288 Pages (1999-08-01)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$5.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312206577
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Throughout his notable career as a novelist, poet, and literary critic, Kingsley Amis was often concerned--the less understanding might say obsessed--with the use and abuse of the English language.

Do we know what the words we employ really mean?Do we have the right to use them if we don't?Should an "exciting" new program be allowed to "hit" your television screen?When is it acceptable to split an infinitive?And just when is one allowed to begin a sentence with "and"?The enemies of fine prose may dismiss such issues as tiresome and pedantic, but Kingsley Amis, like all great novelists, depended upon these very questions to separate the truth from the lie, both in literature and in life.

A Parthian shot from one of the most important figures in postwar British fiction, this volume represents Amis's last word on the state of the language.More frolicsome than Fowler's Modern Usage, lighter than the Oxford English Dictionary, and replete with the strong opinions that have made Amis so popular--and so controversial--this book is essential for anyone who cares about the way English is spoken and written. Amazon.com Review
Kingsley Amis's The King's English is as witty andbiting as his novels. Modestly presented as a volume "in which somemodern linguistic problems are discussed and perhaps settled," Amis'susage guide is a worthy companion to his reveredFowler's. The King's English is distinctly British, butnever mind: it is sensational. And unlike many of his countrymen, Amisis decidedly pro-American, even admitting a "bias towards Americanmodes of expression as likely to seem the livelier and ... smarteralternative." In a world populated by usage mavens too willing towaffle, Amis is refreshingly unequivocal. On the expressionmeaningful dialogue? It "looks and sounds unbearablypompous. Nevertheless one would not wish to be deprived of a phrasethat so unerringly points out its user as a humourless ninny." Tocross one's 7's, he says, "is either gross affectation or, these days,straightforward ignorance." And the frequently misused wordviable, he claims, "should be dropped altogether ... simplybecause it has taken the fancy of every trendy little twit on thelook-out for a posh word for feasible, practicable." Forget Amis'sprotestations of being unfit for the position of language arbiter;after all, as he says, "the defence of the language is too large amatter to be left to the properly qualified." --Jane Steinberg ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Guidance on English from a knowledgeable, skilled, and passionate user
I happen to like Kingsley Amis and his writings.Over the years I have read about six of his books, and from them and what I have read about him I find him knowledgeable, usually entertaining, and often very funny.Best of all, he is an excellent writer.It was clear to me, even before I came across THE KING'S ENGLISH, that Kingsley Amis cared, intensely, about the English language.Published posthumously, this book contains a host of his opinions on English words and usage, arranged alphabetically, and I recommend it to anyone who also cares about communicating clearly and gracefully in the English language.

As the sub-title suggests, the book is most readily categorized as a guide to usage, but the word "guide" needs to be emphasized.THE KING'S ENGLISH is by no means comprehensive or exhaustive.Instead, it is a collection of comments, condemnations, and -- above all -- "guidance for those who may want it."Amis commends both H.W. Fowler and his "Modern English Usage" (one of Amis's entries is essentially a tribute to Fowler), but Amis is a little more relaxed and commonsensical in his views on what is acceptable or tolerable than was Fowler.For American readers and speakers of English, a downside of the book is that it is concerned primarily with British English rather than American, and perhaps as much as a quarter of the book is of little or no interest to an American.But for me that negative is more than off-set by the extraordinarily keen sense (or ear) that Amis has for the nuances of usage and meaning, his passion for his subject, and -- I return to it again -- his writing ability.As a bonus, THE KING'S ENGLISH is laced with Amis's characteristic wit.

In the end, manuals and guides on usage can take one only so far.More important is experience in the language and mindfulness.As Amis writes in the entry for "genteelism" (i.e., a stylish or "posh" word -- "highfalutin" to some of us Americans -- used in place of a more apt everyday word), "The annoying truth is that almost every written word confronts the writer with a choice for which no rule will ever quite serve, and the price of a good style, like that of other desirable things, is eternal vigilance."Thus, "Rule 1 of writing is to get everything right as far as you can * * *."

More so than the more typical or comprehensive book on proper usage, THE KING'S ENGLISH can be read straight through, although for me doing so became a bit of a chore. Still, it was time and effort well-spent, and doing so persuaded me that I (and probably many others who care about words and language) should browse through a decent book on usage every year or so.

4-0 out of 5 stars May think he's the God of Usage, but he's only half-right . . .
Amis on language use can be infuriating. In reading through his usage notes, I found myself swinging from a fist-pumping "YES!" to gleeful snickers to an appalled "Say what?!" The author was the product of a classical education in the 1930s, which he explains as the basis of some of his preferences, but he's also partial to the way Americanisms have crept into British English -- usually. He doesn't like "aren't I" (it should be "am I not," since "amn't I" is hardly pronounceable), and he compares calling children "kids" to calling an Italian a "wop." He thinks foreign words when used by an Englishman should be forced into an Anglicized pronunciation; anyone who tries to pronounce a French word or term as the French do is a "wanker." To me, this is the worst sort of imperial arrogance -- and it's even more puzzling since Amis also inveighs against the British tendency to snootiness overseas. On the other hand, he counsels the reader to avoid dressed-up, generally wrongly-used vogue words like "opine," "orchestrate," "feedback," and "relevant," with which I entirely agree. But just when he's on a roll, he declares that "`Restauranteur' is impossible in French and a pretentious illiteracy in English." Sigh. Well, read the book and enjoy Amis's ability to draw blood with a well-chosen word, but don't feel obliged to agree with all his judgments or to accept his occasional pomposity.

5-0 out of 5 stars WRITING WRONGS

Are you disinterested or uninterested? When do you say alternately or should it be alternatively? These are words we hear everyday; but they are often confused and misused, even in the mainstream media. Help is at hand. The famous English author Kingsley Amis's last book The King's English will provide professional writers and those who care about their language, expert guidance in the usage of English.

Amis is best known for his novels such as Lucky Jim and the Old Devils, but he was also a skilled observer and commentator on late 20th Century life and language. Amis died in 1995, with this book being published posthumously, two years later.

In this book, he takes us from the classic formalism of old-school academic scholars with their groundings in Latin and Greek, through to the street-wise pop-media of the contemporary world. He bridges the gap between the rigorous, proscribed rules of the original 1926 classic H.W. Fowler's Modern English Usage and the modern, pragmatic world where English is recognised as the global language. Despite being an Englishman, Amis acknowledged the ascendancy and the practical "correctness" of American English.

Amis in his book is very careful not to be too pedantic with his comments. In his entry on the pronunciation of kilometre, he argues against the common practice of stressing the second syllable and therefore making it sound like a device to measure items grouped in thousands. Amis assures us such a device once existed, but he concludes "not many people know that, or would care if they did."

Amis has fun criticising - and gently mocking - fashionable trends in writing, particularly in the field of newspaper journalism.In his entry on headlines, Amis gives examples of sub-editors stringing together three or more nouns to make a headline, such as, SCHOOL COACH CRASH DRAMA. He also criticises the journalistic trick of overloading descriptions in one sentence, which he calls the "gorged-snake construction."

Political abuse of the language is also put under the Amis spotlight. How often do we hear politicians "refuting", when all they are doing is denying, and not proving the falsity of the allegation, which is what the word really means?

The King's English is not an exhaustive guide to language use, but anybody who makes a living from writing or takes other people's writing seriously will want to keep a copy of this book close by their dictionary. Should we be implying or inferring this? Either way, this book is inspirational, amusing as well as instructive.

4-0 out of 5 stars Pompous..but amusing none the less
Let us first start with the name of the author of the book in question. "Kingsley Amis", so snotty, so upper-crust and blue blooded...so apropros!Who else would you want to tell you in grand meticulous detail how much you (you meaning the American, you meaning myself as well) butcher the King's English. I adore this book I would give it 5 stars but there are moments when Kingsley (to be said through clenched teeth) meanders a bit and becomes, dare I say it? TOO WORDY.Overall, 4 1/2 stars just for the sheer snottiness of it! Bravo!

5-0 out of 5 stars Curmudgeonly, pedantic language fun
This is not in all seriousness a guide to usage.It's more like Amis's personal opinion piece, or list of pet peeves.His criticism cuts both ways, searing both those who take liberties with language, and those who are overly stuffed-shirt about using "whom" or saying "it is I."The closest thing to this among American writers would be William Safire, with a dash of Dave Barry.Amis is deadly funny, with a certain snootiness and condescension that are simultaneously repugnant and heroic.

This book shouldn't REALLY be your usage guide.Used as one, it would leave you feeling befuddled, and perhaps belittled.But it reads a bit like a usage guide, with an alphabetical list of topics for Amis's rants, e.g., "genteelisms," "whom," "get," etc.With insults freely being applied to people who speak in certain ways, however, it is more like a collection of Amis's opinions, to be used in conjunction with a real usage guide (as Amis admits in the introduction).

I am giving this book 5 stars because I am a language pedant, and find this stuff extremely entertaining.I read through it excitedly in one sitting; it's fascinating to me to find out what grammar points irk other language pedants.If you are not a language pedant, however, you may be bored by this book. ... Read more

9. Girl, 20
by Kingsley Amis
Paperback: 253 Pages (1989-04)
list price: US$8.95 -- used & new: US$49.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671671200
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Life in London means glamour, fashion, finance and art. Consider then an aging conductor, husband in an unsatisfactory marriage, father to an unhappy brood. When a young woman responds to his overtures, he breaks the marriage and bursts the family...alas, everyone loses in this drama, for nothing puts people together again.

Kingsley Amis is one of England's finest men of letters. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not quite so Lucky
Girl, 20 is another fine and funny book by Kingsley Amis. Main characters include music critics, an orchestra conductor and violinist and there are conflicting views presented (Amis's?) about the value and competency of Gus Mahler's symphony #1.Girl, 20not quite as uproariously funny as Lucky Jim.The ending caps the destruction of a family.Lucky Jim has a more satisfying ending.

4-0 out of 5 stars A brilliant author weaves yet another witty, comic tale
Kingsley Amis has again written a story of infidelity, destructive selfishness, and blatant stupidity and managed to make it hilarious.The basic story centers on a symphony conductor who, in an attempt to reawaken his lust for life, is having an ill-advised affair with a girl one-third his age. As you might expect, the disasters this creates in his life are quite entertaining. The narrator, an upper-crust music critic, speaks of the rapid disintegration of the conductor's family and his own love life with such detached snobbery, that even mundane events come alive with vivid humor.Especially funny is his description of a date that includes attending a wrestling event.One warning: Amis offers no clean-cut solutions, but turns expectations upside-down.The last page of Girl,20 comes as a surprise that will leave you wishing for more. ... Read more

10. I Like it Here
by Kingsley Amis
 Hardcover: Pages (1961)

Asin: B00445ZMAK
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11. Lucky Jim
by Kingsley Amis
Mass Market Paperback: 256 Pages (1976-11-18)
list price: US$6.00 -- used & new: US$20.92
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140016481
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
First published in 1954, this novel tells the story of Jim Dixon - lower middle-class anti-hero - charting his social gaffes, cultural philistinism, inept relationships and crawling to superiors. The author's other books include "The Old Devils", which won the 1986 Booker Prize. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great novel
The novel is in great condition and will be a nice edition to my library.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect Transaction!
Excellent condition, a Very fair price that I'm delighted with, excellent communication, excellent packaging and fast shipping! High recommend; a perfect transaction!Thank you so much!

5-0 out of 5 stars The funniest novel ever written?
Maybe. It's on the short list. Required reading for anyone struggling with an academic career. Whenever a friend or family member hits grad school I mail a copy to get them through it with the note, "It could be worse. Here's everything that will go horribly wrong."

Amis's slim first novel is the tale of a not particularly talented academic surrounded by stuffed shirts and idiots. All in control of his destiny in one way or another. If you can read it without laughing aloud you're dead inside.

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't read this book on the subway,
because, most likely, it will provoke loud screams of laughter and you'll embarrass yourself.Lucky Jim is the story of Jim Dixon, a lowly lecturer at an English university.In order to keep his job, he must suck up to the fabulously annoying professor, Ned Welch.He's also saddled with an annoying and not very attractive girlfriend and he's given to playing immature pranks on people he doesn't like.Indeed, he divides all mankind into two great classes:people he likes and people he doesn't.Jim also likes his booze, which occaisionally causes him trouble, particularly after an arty-farty week-end party at his boss's house.If you want to read something that's light but intelligent then Lucky Jim is a good choice.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hilarious!
This book is absolutely hilarious! I don't know that I have ever laughed as hard while reading a book as I did in this one. The wit is both sharp and precise--you sam. But it isn't only funny, it has a tremendous warmth to it. If you aren't smiling from humor, you're smiling because of the connection with the characters.

Not only did I read this book with delight, I've actually given two copies to friends (this is not something i've ever done with secular books other than this one). I know of one professor who reads this book every year, and I may very well do the same. Get this book, you won't be disappointed. ... Read more

12. Take a Girl Like You
by Kingsley Amis
Paperback: 320 Pages (1976-04-29)
list price: US$4.95
Isbn: 0140018484
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A virgin's progress amid orgy and seduction. When attractive little Jenny Bunn comes south to teach, she falls in with Patrick Standish, a schoolmaster, and all the rakes and rogues of a provincial "Hell Fire Club". ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Amis hits his stride with a funny but dark novel
Kingsley Amis opened his career with the novel that remained his most famous work to the end of his life: Lucky Jim. His next two novels were generally regarded as disappointments, at least relative to Lucky Jim. It is with his fourth novel, Take a Girl Like You, that Amis again hit his stride. This is as with almost all of Amis's works a comic novel, but much darker than Lucky Jim, with a cad for a leading man and a rather sad (morally) ending.

The protagonist is Jenny Bunn, a 20 year old girl from the North of England who has come to a middle class town near London to be a schoolteacher. Jenny is an extremely beautiful woman, a bit naive, and brought up with fairly conventional notions of sexual morality. Which have been a bit of a burden to her since about the age of 14, when she noticed that all of a sudden she was constantly the object of not always welcome male attention.

Soon enough at her somewhat depressing boarding house she meets a very charming and handsome man named Patrick Standish. Patrick is breaking up with her fellow boarder, a somewhat ramshackle Frenchwoman named Anna Le Page. Patrick immediately notices Jenny, the way all men seem to, and not long after he has asked her on a date. Which is quite a lot of fun, until Patrick closes the evening by rather insistently trying to seduce her.

Patrick is a schoolteacher himself, at a private school for boys, and apparently rather good at his job. He has the same problems with his bosses that every Amis leading man seems to have: his headmaster is pleasant enough but ineffectual, and another teacher is a very nasty piece of work. But we slowly gather that Patrick is far from blameless: most egregiously, he is not trying very hard to resist the head's 16 year old daughter's pathetic attempts to sleep with him. He also cruelly torments the clumsier and stupider people around him.

The novel portrays Patrick's courtship of Jenny, over roughly a year's period. This includes attempts to persuade her that her moral views are outdated, a long period of trying to be "not a bastard", failed attempts to resist having sex with other women he encounters while away from Jenny (the dates are a good thing, see, to prove to himself he really loves Jenny ... but he still has sex with the women) ... and finally an ultimatum to Jenny to sleep with him or end the relationship. Which leads to a crucial act and a dispiriting but believable conclusion. As it happens, this is the only novel to which Amis wrote a sequel: Difficulties With Girls, a couple of decades later, in which Jenny and Patrick are married, but Patrick is still philandering. That book ends a bit happier, with Jenny gaining the ultimate upper hand in their relationship.

I think this is an excellent novel. The various characters are thoroughly believable to me, and a varied and odd lot. Amis's comic eye for dialogue, and internal dialogue, is sharp as ever. The novel is funny when it needs to be, and honest and sad when it needs to be.

4-0 out of 5 stars Take a Gril Like You
Spunky Jenny Bunn moves south to start her first taching job, having a recently failed relationship back home - which had a lot to do with her refusal for sex. Finally away from school & home - she feels she's ready to face the world & life - and she certainly gets her share of lessons - with her landlords, another tenant at home, a teacher at the local college who courts her, his weird flat mate, and co workers.

The book is a fun read, though a little naive & old fashioned. ... Read more

13. Rudyard Kipling (Literary Lives Series)
by Kingsley Amis
 Paperback: 128 Pages (1986-08)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$7.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0500260192
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Rudyard Kipling in an afternoon
Far too many mainstream biographies seem to be written primarily for besotted descendents of the subject or for graduate students plumbing the depths of minutiae for footnotes to their dissertation. I applaud those few series, such as Penguin's Lives and the Overlook Press Illustrated Lives, that seek to present in less than 200 pages an informative yetcritical overview of the lives of noteworthies from the (admittedly) English-speaking, Eurocentric civilization in which we live. "Rudyard Kipling" by Kingsley Amis is one of the rare but exemplary short biographies that, in a more ideal world, would find much wider circulation than the more frequently published 500-page doorstops.

Amis was often thought of as a sort of curmudgeon of British letters, but here he is anything but.Indeed, he clearly is a fan of Kipling, both of his stories and of his writing.For example, Amis calls "Kim" "one of the greatest novels in the language."(I happen to concur with Amis' judgment -- confession, every ten years I re-read "Kim" for the sheer joy of it -- but I am gratified to learn that someone so much more qualified than I holds the same opinion.)Yet the book is balanced and critical.Amis does not ignore the unpleasant, arrogant, imperialist aspects of Kipling's character.But he is also sensitive to Kipling's insecurities and all-so-human weaknesses, and he highlights the determination, drive, moral code of conduct (although we, nearly a century later, may nitpick with that code), and basic humanity that ultimately made Kipling one of the most public of all Anglo-American literary figures and, at least to my mind, one of the more admirable ones.

In addition to more traditional biographical matters, Amis also touches on literary aspects of Kipling's works.The book is very liberally sprinkled with photographs and illustrations.I believe it is now o.o.p., but it appears to be readily available in the secondary market, and for anyone interested in an intelligent overview of Kipling it is worth the time and effort to acquire and to read (although the latter certainly requires no undue time and effort). ... Read more

14. Lucky Jim: a Rollicking Misadventure
by Kingsley Amis
 Hardcover: 256 Pages (1954)
-- used & new: US$41.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 096502556X
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15. The Life of Kingsley Amis
by Zachary Leader
Kindle Edition: 1008 Pages (2009-03-10)
list price: US$39.95
Asin: B001V7U6KK
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Here is the authorized, definitive biography of one of the most controversial figures of twentieth-century literature, renowned for his blistering intelligence, savage wit and belligerent fierceness of opinion: Kingsley Amis was not only the finest comic novelist of his generation–having first achieved prominence with the publication of Lucky Jim in 1954 and as one of the Angry Young Men–but also a dominant figure in post—World War II British writing as novelist, poet, critic and polemicist.

In The Life of Kingsley Amis, Zachary Leader, acclaimed editor of The Letters of Kingsley Amis, draws not only on unpublished works and correspondence but also on interviews with a wide range of Amis’s friends, relatives, fellow writers, students and colleagues, many of whom have never spoken out before. The result is a compulsively readable account of Amis’s childhood, school days and life as a student at Oxford, teacher, critic, political and cultural commentator, professional author, husband, father and lover. Even as he makes the case for Amis’s cultural
centrality–at his death Time magazine claimed that “the British decades between 1955 and 1995 should in fairness be called ‘the Amis era’”–Leader explores the writer’s phobias, self-doubts and ambitions; the controversies in which he was embroiled; and the role that drink played in a life bedeviled by erotic entanglements, domestic turbulence and personal disaster.

Dazzling for its thoroughness, psychological acuity and elegant style, The Life of Kingsley Amis is exemplary: literary biography at its very best.

From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Seven Pounds
Zachary Leader's book intrigued me even though I'm not much of a fan of the novelist Kingsley Amis, but I had followed something of the fallout that attended the previous biographer Eric Jacobs when he got "fired" by the Amis family and given the sack and prevented pretty much from editing Amis' letters (often quite witty) and writing this biography.

I would think it would take a certain kind of person to step in on top of such a disaster and actually take the reins and do the book.What I didn't expect is that it would be so thorough.That's putting it charitably, the book is far too long.Then again if one was really convinced that Amis was a great writer and that the second half of the 20th century should have been named the "Amis Era," then you too would probably right something as long as this.The "Amis Era" formulation is not Leader's own, by the way, but a funeral notice he quotes with approval.

Anyhow it's all individual taste isn't it.In my eyes, each chapter just proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Amis and Larkin might have been the two biggest pigs ever to pick up a pen.But Leader, while admitting some of their faults, just thinks they're the cat's meow because, I suppose, for him they were England's leading novelist and poet respectively.I don't think so, and he was never able to persuade me otherwise.The detailed notes of the plots of each of Amis' three dozen novels were an embarrassment in fact...Maybe there weren't three dozen, it just felt that way.His womanizing and drinking are amusing, it's his bigotry and contempt for the world that nauseates.AND the over-ratedness.How did he get so lucky?Leader makes a case that Amis appeared at the right time, and just in the right manner; the social and political conditions were crying out for a man with all of Amis' qualifications, and something about the very slightness of LUCKY JIM appealed to a taste grown tired of modernism, tired of asking questions, to a generation that wanted to have a laugh and to feel that they were cool doing so.

I've been reading the book for well over a year, as some men read Proust I read Zachary Leader's life of Amis and now, as I come to leaf through the book again trying to sum up my general impressions, I find that my memory must be fuzzy.There are whole chapters with mysterious titles that yield nothing back to me, even though I spent a month reading each.What was (chapter 9) "Swansea"?Leader's predilection for dating everything according to what mansion Kingsley and Hilly (or then Kingsley and Jane) were living in at the time never clicked for meChapter 17: "Patrick and Dai."Refresh my memory, Zachary Leader!Were they, perhaps, Amis' dogs?Make them wag their tails, make them bark at me!Don't leave me like this....I can date my entrance into this book (I had the ARC), it was February 2007.That means...click click click...it's been more than a year, more like a year and a half.I could have walked to Swansea at this rate, been there to chuck Patrick and Dai under their long floppy ears.

3-0 out of 5 stars boring
I found it a struggle to stick with this biography, though I am a big fan of Kingsley Amis and was eager to learn more about his life.I wasn't impressed with author's writing style, found it a bit labored and muddy, andthe way he keeps looking for confirmation of Amis's persona in his fictional characters got extremely tiresome and distracting.I think the biggest prblem for me here is that the narrative just isn't smooth enough or captivating enough.I got the feeling that Leader was afraid to say anything truly critical.

5-0 out of 5 stars Big But Good
This a hefty read -- there are relatively few biographies of literary figures that are as long.But, the length is worth it.Leader writes gracefully and interestingly about a man who often is hard to like but difficult not to admire.Most of us know Amis either as the author of "Lucky Jim" (book and movie) or as the father of the Booker Prize winner Martin Amis.Kingsley's career, however, is more important than those two claims to fame.He was one of the initiators of the Angry Young Men who had a major impact on English writing from the 1950s on.And, he brought back to English, and American poetry, an emphasis on accessibility to the average reader, although his effort is not always visible today.Further, he was the model of the hard-drinking, womanizing author that populates so much of popular fiction and film.In that story, we find a lot of what makes his life so sad as well as so interesting.And, this is an interesting book that takes you inside the creative process of writing and the destructive process of hard living.

4-0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive/exhausting biography of a great writer
I love Amis' work and expect that he'll be read as long as literature has legs, but this bio requires a lot of stamina.It's all there: drinking, carousing, family life, contrarian politics, the wicked sense of humor.Leader did an enormous amount of research and doesn't pull punches about some serious character flaws.One thing that bugged me throughout was the implicit assumption that the books and poetry were autobiographical - besides being factually wrong, this drags things out unnecessarily.

If I was going to pick out a novel of Amis for the uninitiated, I'd have to make it 3 of them to show his versatility: "Lucky Jim", "The Alteration", and "Ending Up".But you wouldn't go wrong with "Take A Girl Like You", "Girl, 20", "The Anti-Death League", his collected short stories or any of his criticism. ... Read more

16. Memoirs
by Kingsley Amis
Hardcover: 8 Pages (1991-09)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$12.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671749099
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars A last round for (or on) his friends
The famous founder of the original Angry Young Men offers up these mis-named memoirs.It is not an autobiography but more a collection of pub performances in written form.Which is no handicap to enjoying the collection: conversation remained an art in England long after it became extinct in America.

Some of the people profiled are not friends or enemies, but neglected writers whose stars Amis hoped to revive.The writer Elizabeth Taylor is one of these.Others, like Anthony Burgess and Enoch Powell, are simply famous people who were barely acquaintances, but with whom Amis had notable run-ins.

The profiles of his literary friends are mostly strings of amusing faux pas or escapades, usually drunken.He sportingly lingers over his own social pratfalls as much as over others'.Or maybe fair play has nothing to do with it; he just recognizes good material no matter who the subject is.In his own telling, he spends much of these events half in the bag, to the point of being unable to reconstruct them from memory later.Except for a passing opinion or two, he stays away from politics and literary theories, even giving Robert Conquest's limericks more ink than his Sovietology.He sticks to the same approach even with his nearest and dearest: his wives and novelist son only appear as part of some anecdote or other.

His view of America is like Frances Trollope's.Gleeful japes at the Ugly American abound, each more devastating than the last.Well, H. L. Mencken did it earlier and better.And no charge for saving England's bacon so many times, old top.

Here and there genuine affection for his closest friends bubbles to the surface.Philip Larkin appears throughout the collection, in addition to his own chapter, and Amis frequently quotes from Larkin's uncollected poetry.Under Amis' treatment, the mopey old onanist almost becomes a tragic figure.Other people like post-conversion Malcolm Muggeridge make no sense to him, as Amis does not have or at least does not display any spiritual side.

Taken altogether, this is a very English, sometimes acidly English, survey of one writer's circle of acquaintances, but not much of their era. ... Read more

17. The Letters of Kingsley Amis
by Zachary Leader
Hardcover: 1212 Pages (2001-11-21)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$24.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786867574
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In 1954, Kingsley Amis grabbed the attention of the literary world as one of the Angry Young Men with his first novel Lucky Jim. He maintained a public image of blistering intelligence, savage wit, and belligerent fierceness of opinion until his death in 1995. In his letters, he confirms the legendary aspects of his reputation, and much more. This collection contains more than eight hundred letters that divulge the secrets of the artist and the man, with an honesty and immediacy rare in any biography or memoir.

Amis, so assured in his pronouncements on fellow writers, grapples privately with fears, self-doubts, ambitions, and personal disasters. He is wildly funny, indulging in mordant gossip and astonishing frankness with his intimate friends and lovers. Some letters are dashed off with signature frustration; others are written with painstaking and painful circumspection. They make vivid the triumphs and tumult of his life and his times, from post-war Britain through the Thatcher era, as well as his attractions to women, jazz, drink, and the comic possibilities of the English language.

As an intellectual pugilist who took no prisoners, Kingsley Amis had few peers. These letters, at times scandalous, at times tragic, reinforce his historical relevance and literary stature. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Amusing, interesting, often catty, revealing
Kingsley Amis is one of my favorite post-war novelists. I had not before read a collection of letters, and I confess there was a time when I would have thought the idea of actually reading through someone's lifetime of letters just plain idiotic. But in fact I found these fascinating -- interesting to read for the biographical details, hints of the creative process, discussion of his works and Philip Larkin's works in progress -- as well as often very very funny and sometimes eyebrow-raisingly nasty.

Zachary Leader has chosen about 800 of several thousand surviving letters. The great bulk are to the poet Philip Larkin, his closest friend. Another huge chunk are to another very close friend, the writer and Sovietologist Robert Conquest. He also corresponded a good deal with my favorite novelist, Anthony Powell, another good friend of his (though Amis betrays a certain lack of confidence in his friendship with AP -- I sense that he was intimidated by Powell's upper class background and lifestyle, by his rather mandarin literary taste, and by his age). There are many letters to his second wife, Elizabeth Jane Howard, as well as a rather unfortunate set of nasty comments about her in other letters after their rather ugly divorce. Lots of letters to agents and publishers -- these rather interesting from the writing business point of view. Quite a few responses to fan letters -- these generally quite gracious and often offering interesting answers to questions about Amis' books. Unfortunately no letters to Bruce Montgomery ("Edmund Crispin"), another of Amis' special friends: they cannot be inspected until 2035! Hilly Bardwell Amis Boyd, Lady Kilmarnock, his first wife, burned all his letters, perhaps understandably, after he left her (or she left him but because of his affair with Howard) in 1963. Amis in his life was reluctant have any of his other letters to women lovers printed, and Leader either didn't track down any such, or chose not to print them. As for his children, Philip did not keep his letters, Sally did not want them published, and Martin could find only a postcard or two (though apparently there were many more).

Highlights? His early letters to Larkin, with their complex
abbreviations and injokes, and the talk about poetry. The cattiness he displays towards writers whose work he disliked, such as most obviously John Wain, his fellow "Angry Young Man". Amis on "Old English Literature": "The prose is admitted even by initiates to be stumbling and graceless; the verse is shackled by continual repetitions of idea ... This is the echo of an Age stated but not shown to be Heroic whose literature carries neither primitive insight nor civilized assurance." (and more) The general funniness of things, even though occasionally mean.

Certainly an amusing and interesting angle from which to consider a great writer.

4-0 out of 5 stars Always Diverting
Amis's letters are a lot of fun, as you might expect. Amis is often as outraged and funny as in his best fiction (especially in the letters to Larkin). Often in literary appraisals he is acute, and he always seems true to something in himself, so that even when one disagrees--i. e., T. S. Eliot is not simply a pretentious bore--one goes along.

Good as this correspondence is, it isn't up to Larkin's letters because Amis doesn't believe or feel as deeply as Larkin does, nor does he have as focussed a perspective as Larkin, so the humor isn't set set off in such sharp contradistinction to a fundamental seriousness. Yet you keep reading because the book clears away cant and intellectual fustian so vigorously. Moreover, it gives just enough glimpse of Amis's biography: a sad, messy counterpoint spreads out in the background: the meanderings of a brilliant man with a zillion reactions and nothing firm to attach them to.

Larkin's parody of his own poem "Days" on page 1040 is not to be missed; it's in one of Leader's helpful footnotes.

This book weighs a couple of pounds, so is hard to hold--to be read at table rather than in bed. Couldn't the publisher have used lighter weight paper and given us smaller type and less margin?

5-0 out of 5 stars Rage & Glee
Volumes of letters should be judged by their editing as much as their content, hence the five stars. Z. Leader is thorough, intelligent, impartial, and exact. There is sufficient scholarly apparatus to guide the working academic and the demanding lay reader. As for the letters, well, there are a lot of them. Despite his professed laziness, Amis cranked off an immense amount of smart, thoughtful, scurrilous, and funny correspondence in the 50+ years recorded here. Exemplary funny bits are on pages 276-277 in a 1952 letter to Philip Larkin. If you laugh, buy the book. If you don't, don't. If you're shocked by cruel, rude jokes between close friends, don't. Amis demanded, and often provided, hard thinking, precise expression, and blunt honesty. His staunchly conservative, sometimes reactionary, views contrast interestingly with his drunken philandering, which should provoke thought among those readers who enjoy thinking at all. ... Read more

18. The Alteration
by Kingsley Amis
Mass Market Paperback: 204 Pages (1988-09)
list price: US$3.95 -- used & new: US$27.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0881844322
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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The year is 1976 and we are alive in an all-Catholic world. The Reformation never took place because Martin Luther made a deal with Rome and became Pope Martin I. The "alteration" proposed to Hubert Anvil, brilliant 10-year-old boy soprano, is that most feared by all males. Pope John XXIV wishes Hubert to preserve the purity of his voice to glorify the Church on a permanent basis; Hubert wishes to share his talent but he has some disquieting thoughts about Pope John's proposal. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

2-0 out of 5 stars mercilessly boring
I once confessed to a friend my frequent (theoretical) desire to have my gonads surgically removed, that I might concentrate more intently on the true purpose of my life:studying.

Chuckling, he brought over a copy of Amis's "The Alteration," claiming I would find it hilarious and delightful.

The story is set in the mid-twentienth century, but in an alternate universe in which the Protestant Reformation never occurred, so the Catholic church has dominated modern European history as it did during the Middle Ages.

This is just the backdrop.The action centers on young opera singer and the pressure on him to undergo emasculation as a way of preserving his gifts.

Though the book is highly literate and will provide many chuckles for those who are up on their modern European history, I don't feel Amis accomplished anything here that couldn't have been brought off much more swiftly and capably in a simple short story.

Worse, Amis's style in this book is difficult and overwritten, the book lacks sharply-drawn characters, the "alternate reality" angle adds little of substance, and what little suspense is there seems inexplicably squandered.

I returned "The Alteration" to my friend with a polite smile, knowing I'd never read it again.

Oh well.Back to studying.

5-0 out of 5 stars music, love, and strange times
Amis gives us a very strange 20th century: Since the fundamentalist Martin Luther was elected pope and the Church was reformed, all Europe (including Great Britain) remained Catholic. Science and the laws, hemmed by theological traditions,have not developed to a form we are used to nowadays.
The musical prodigy Hubert Anvil, aged ten, excels with his pure soprano voice and early compositions. So the pope wants to have him alterated to preserve this wonderful voice for his Sistine Chapel. Two emissaries, also alterated, shall test the boy. Here Amis is at his wittiest: Fredericus Mirabilis translated is the famous German tenor Fritz Wunderlich, and the other one, addressed only as Lupogradus, is in German "Wolfgang" (Amadeus Mozart, about sixty years old). Through alteration he lost all his abilitites as a composer, and predicts this sad fate to Hubert, too.
We find a lot of descriptions and disputes about the different kinds of love - carnal, spiritual, and infantile - none which is funny, sometimes cruel, and the boy is interested to hear much about the love he is still too young for, and the joys he will be missing.
When he tries to escape his fate with the help of the dissident American ambassador he falls ill and can only be saved by the removal of his testicles - alteration. Miracle, act of God? A very strange end of the book indeed.

4-0 out of 5 stars An example of Kingsley Amis's range.
Kingsley Amis is best known as a satirist -- Lucky Jim is one of the funniest books since World War II -- but he always had an interest in science fiction (according to his son Martin, one of his favorite movies was The Terminator), and this book presents an alternative history in which Britain remained a Catholic country, and Martin Luther was reconciled to the Church.Other changes including Bethoven writing 20 symphonies and Mozart dying even earlier than in real life.The main character is a boy (Hubert) about to lose his voice because of puberty; the "alteration" of the title is castration to preserve that voice.Amis presents a well-thought out altenrate version, and the adventures of Hubert to escape his alteration are both interesting and used to further explain this alternative history. Unfortunately, the book is out of print in the U.S.; I got my copy on a trip to Britain. Almost anything Kingsley Amis wrote is interesting, and it is our loss that more of his works are not available in the U.S. ... Read more

19. The Anti-death League
by Kingsley Amis
Paperback: 304 Pages (1975-11-30)
list price: US$2.25
Isbn: 014002803X
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Brian Leonard, a Monty Python of secret agents, meets James Churchill, a young officer, at an English army base where preparations are under way for Operation Apollo. To complicate matters, Churchill has gone round-the-bend for a parole from the mental ward.

Thrown amongst these loose cannons is a widowed beauty who practices "conspicuous polyandry," an unfocused psychiatrist, an unbelieving chaplain, and a charming alcoholic.

"Amis delights in combining espionage, violence, love and religious skepticism.Such disparate elements, like dishpans and fire rings, challenge his juggler's dexterity. Who wins? The reader!" (Publisher's Source) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

2-0 out of 5 stars A black comedy manquée
Randy soldiers (homo and hetero); a nymphomaniac aristocrat who entertains, seriatim, officers in her country house; a mad psychiatrist at the army mental hospital; a semi-agnostic and non-judgmental padre; a mad security officer; an army officer and an ex-mental hospital patient in love with each other- these are the principal characters in this novel, most of whom verge on caricature.And they are constantly in need of a drink.The first half of the book is mainly about the relationship between all these people, though in the background there is a sinister army exercise called Operation Apollo.This becomes more central in the second half.Operation Apollo is a preparation for nasty things being done to the Chinese whose spying activities and aggressive intentions obsess the security establishment. (The book was first published in 1966.) At various times several characters on the army base are suspected as Chinese agents; the plot becomes as insane as some of the individuals in the book, but without a lucid story line such as is found in good spy novels.The book aims at being a black comedy; and there are several speeches in which characters reflect on whether there can be a God in such a wicked world: this debate, also, has been much better done elsewhere.

I couldn't get involved with the book at all.

2-0 out of 5 stars Never Comes Together
Having read a couple Martin Amis books, and more or less enjoyed them, I figured I should check out something by Amis pere. Set on an army base in (apparently) the 1960s, this book tries to blend farce with love story with meditation on the fallacy of God. It doesn't ever really all come together, and in fact no one element works very well on its own either. The farce aspect just wasn't that funny, the love story was hoary and trite, and the meditations of the cruelty and indifference of God seemed rather forced into the rest of it. There are some good scenes here and there, and a large cast of nutty characters, but rarely was I made to care about any of them. Guess I'd better stick to Martin.

4-0 out of 5 stars Quite good, guvnor
For a book full of the lovely Brits that habitually inhabit the books of Amis, this is the best I've read yet. We have the whole cast right here, the irreverent homosexual to the chaplain who goes on sexual escapades. Thebook is based in the British Army in the 60s, and we get a prettyintriguing plot to do with a foreign enemy and mysterious weapon ofunimaginable horror. And this is where we get a clue to the title. Lt.James Churchill isn't the central character here (for that, there really isno main character, but rather a set of characters) but the story revolvesaround his particular aversion to God and the bad things that happen topeople apparently at random, especially death. This is where I found thebook to be most intelligent and thought-provoking. The Anti-Death League inreality only features very briefly, but it does give meaning to the mainidea of the book, that of people feeling disillusioned with God andchallenging His existence. Apart from that, there are some hilarious sceneswith a mad doctor in charge of the local loonies place, the homosexual MaxHunter and the inept spycatcher Captain Leonard. There is some excitementwith the chasing and catching of the purported spy or spies, very muchhelped by Amis' comic touch. And the end is very nicely and properlypoignant and leaves the reader to decide for himself if the book's messageis atheistic or otherwise or not at all that either.

My only reservationwith this delightful book was the romantic aside between Churchill andCatharine, a former patient of the asylum. Although it fits in well enoughwith the story, it just did strike me as a bit trite and, well, rather toosentimental. If not for that, I would have given it a fiver, and even now Ithink four and a half stars do the real justice to this book. ... Read more

20. The Golden Age of Science Fiction (An Anthology)
by Kingsley Amis
 Hardcover: Pages (1982)

Asin: B000S3J8BG
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