In Kingsley Amis's virtuoso foray into virtual history it is 1976 but the modern world is a medieval relic, frozen in intellectual and spiritual time ever since Martin Luther was promoted to pope back in the sixteenth century. Stephen the Third, the king of England, has just died, and Mass (Mozart's second requiem) is about to be sung to lay him to rest. In the choir is our hero, Hubert Anvil, an extremely ordinary ten-year-old boy with a faultless voice. In the audience is a select group of experts whose job is to determine whether that faultless voice should be preserved by performing a certain operation. Art, after all, is worth any sacrifice.How Hubert realizes what lies in store for him and how he deals with the whirlpool of piety, menace, terror, and passion that he soon finds himself in are the subject of a classic piece of counterfactual fiction equal to Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle.The Alteration won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science-fiction novel in 1976.tion novel in 1976.
Kingsley Amis's poetry tackles all the grimly humorous subjects he tackled in his novels--lust, lost love, booze, money and the lack of it, old age, death--and does so with immense formal poise. A master of both traditional and unconventional meters with a perfect ear for parody, Amis wrote satires, epigrams, and rueful and scornful songs that are remarkable not only for their virtuosity and humor but for their scabrous realism. It all adds up to a small, entirely individual, and memorably bracing body of work. As Amis writes: "Beauty, they tell me, is a dangerous thing, / Whose touch will burn, but I'm asbestos, see?"
CRIME OF THE CENTURY Award-winning novelist Kingsley Amis has always delighted in crime and espionage fiction. His THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY is a classic mystery novel in the best British tradition. Bridget Ainsworth, aged twenty, lay dead in Barn Elms Park, stabbed five times in the back with a peculiarly thin blade. The next night another woman was found murdered-and then another. A serial killer was on the loose in London. Detective-Superintendent Bill Barry, recalled from well-earned retirement to handle the case, was baffled: there seemed to be no sequence, no reason for the choice of victims. But Christopher Dane, a detective novelist suffering from writer's block, was intrigued. Doctors, psychologists, lawyers, politicians, and even a rock star offered their expertise and joined in the hunt. But the biggest crime was yet to come... First published as a six-part serial in London's Sunday Times, THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY includes a unique bonus. British readers were invited to send in their own solutions to the mystery after Episode Five. The winning entry is reprinted here alongside Kingsley Amis's own denouement, and this volume also features an introduction by the author.
With Lucky Jim Kingsley Amis established himself as the bad boy of twentieth-century British letters. Later he became famous as another kind of bad boy, an inveterate boozer, a red-faced scourge of political correctness. He was consistent throughout in being a committed enemy of any form of "right thinking," which helped to make him one of the most consistently unconventional and exploratory writers of his day, a master of classical English prose who was unafraid to apply himself to literary genres all too often dismissed as "low." Science fiction, the spy story, the ghost story were all grist for Amis's mill, and nowhere is the experimental spirit in which he worked, his will to test both reality and the reader's imagination, more apparent than in his short stories. These "woodchips from [his] workshop"--as he called them--are anything but throwaway work. They are instead the essence of Amis, a brew that is as tonic as it is intoxicating. ay work. They are instead the essence of Amis, a brew that is as tonic as it is intoxicating.
Ending Up is a grimly hilarious dance of death, full of bickering, bitching, backstabbing, drinking (of course), and idiocy of all sorts. It is a book about dying people and about a dying England, clinging to its memories of greatness as it succumbs to terminal decay. Everyone wants a comfortable place to die, and Kingsley Amis's characters have found it in Tuppeny-happeny Cottage, where assorted septuagenarians have come together to see one another out the door of life. There's grotesque Adela, whose sole passion is her cheapness; her brother Brigadier Bernard Bastable, always strategizing a new retreat to the bathroom before sallying forth to play some especially nasty practical joke; Shorty, the servant, who years ago had a fling with the brigadier in the barracks and now organizes his day around a trail of hidden bottles; George Zeyer, the distinguished professor of history, bedridden and helpless to articulate his still-coherent thoughts; and Marigold, who slowly but surely is forgetting it all. And now it is Christmas. Children and grandchildren are coming to visit their ailing elders. They don't know what lies in store before the story ends. None of us do.
Kingsley Amis, along with being the funniest English writer of his generation was a great chronicler of the fads and absurdities of his age, and Girl, 20 is a delightfully incisive dissection of the flower-power phase of the 1960s. Amis's antihero, Sir Roy Vandervane, a conductor and composer who bears more than a passing resemblance to Leonard Bernstein, is a pillar of the establishment whohas fallen hard for protest, bellbottoms, and the electric guitar. And since vain Sir Vandervane is a great success, he is also free to pursue his greatest failing: a taste for younger and younger women. Highborn hippie Sylvia (not, in fact, twenty) is his latest infatuation and a threat to his whole family, from his drama-queen wife, Kitty, to Penny, his long-suffering daughter.All this is recounted by Douglas Yandell, a music critic with his own love problems, who finds that he too has a part in this story of botched artistry, bumbling celebrity, and scheming family, in a time that for all its high-minded talk is as low and dishonest as any other.
Maurice Allington has reached middle age and is haunted by death. As he says, "I honestly can't see why everybody who isn't a child, everybody who's theoretically old enough to have understood what death means, doesn't spend all his time thinking about it. It's a pretty arresting thought." He also happens to own and run a country inn that is haunted. The Green Man opens as Maurice's father drops dead (had he seen something in the room?) and continues as friends and family convene for the funeral. Maurice's problems are many and increasing: How to deal with his own declining health? How to reach out to a teenage daughter who watches TV all the time? How to get his best friend's wife in the sack? How to find another drink? (And another.) And then there is always death. The Green Man is a ghost story that hits a live nerve, a very black comedy with an uncannily happy ending: in other words, Kingsley Amis at his best.
Regarded by many as the finest, and funniest, comic novel of the twentieth century, Lucky Jim remains as trenchant, withering, and eloquently misanthropic as when it first scandalized readers in 1954. This is the story of Jim Dixon, a hapless lecturer in medieval history at a provincial university who knows better than most that "there was no end to the ways in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones." Amis's scabrous debut leads the reader through a gallery of emphatically English bores, cranks, frauds, and neurotics, with each of whom Dixon must contend in one way or another in order to hold on to his cushy academic perch and win the girl of his fancy. <P><P> More than just a merciless satire of cloistered college life and stuffy post-war manners, Lucky Jim is an attack on the forces of boredom, whatever form they may take, and a work of art that at once distills and extends an entire tradition of English comic writing, from Fielding and Dickens through Wodehouse and Waugh. As Christopher Hitchens has written, "if you can picture Bertie or Jeeves being capable of actual malice, and simultaneously imagine Evelyn Waugh forgetting about original sin, you have the combination of innocence and experience that makes this short romp so imperishable."
Age has done everything except mellow the characters in Kingsley Amis's The Old Devils, which turns its humane and ironic gaze on a group of Welsh married couples who have been spending their golden years--when "all of a sudden the evening starts starting after breakfast"--nattering, complaining, reminiscing, and, above all, drinking. This more or less orderly social world is thrown off-kilter, however, when two old friends unexpectedly return from England: Alun Weaver, now a celebrated man of Welsh letters, and his entrancing wife, Rhiannon. Long-dormant rivalries and romances are rudely awakened, as life at the Bible and Crown, the local pub, is changed irrevocably. <P><P> Considered by Martin Amis to be Kingsley Amis's greatest achievement--a book that "stands comparison with any English novel of the [twentieth] century"--The Old Devils confronts the attrition of ageing with rare candor, sympathy, and moral intelligence.<P> Man Booker Prize winner
The hero of One Fat Englishman, a literary publisher and lapsed Catholic escaped from the pages of Graham Greene to the campus of Budweiser College in provincial Pennsylvania, is philandering, drunken, bigoted, and very very fat, not to mention in a state of continuous spluttering rage against everything, not least his own overgrown self. In America, Roger Micheldene must deal with not so obliging suburban housewives, aspiring Jewish novelists who as good as clean his clock, stray deer, bad cigars, children who beat him at Scrabble ("It was no wonder that people were horrible when they started life as children"), and America itself, while making ever-more desperate and humiliating overtures to Helen, a Scandinavian ice queen. If only Roger would dare to show some real feeling of his own. This comic masterpiece--about the 1950s crashing drunkenly into the consumerist 1960s and a final scion of a disintegrating Old World empire encountering its upstart New World offspring--is one of Kingsley Amis's greatest and most caustic performances.
Take a Girl Like You may well be Kingsley Amis's most ambitious reckoning with the serious subject at the heart of his work: the sheer squalor--emotional, material, sexual, you name it--of modern life. It also introduces one of the rare unqualified good guys in Amis's rogue-ridden world: Jenny Bunn, a girl from the (English) north country come south to teach school in a small smug town where she hopes to find love and fortune. Jenny is a beauty and men and women are crazy about her, most of all handsome Patrick Standish, who Jenny also likes. But Jenny and Patrick live in a world where it's becoming ridiculously difficult--disastrously difficult--to sort out the claims of sex and the claims of love.
Publicada en 1986 y galardonada con el premio Booker, Los viejos demonios es una de las grandes novelas inglesas de la segunda mitad del siglo XX. Cuando parecía que ya había culminado su obra, Sir Kingsley Amis sorprendió al público y a la crítica con esta desternillante y ácida obra.La novela cuenta la historia de un grupo de amigos galeses cuyas aposentadas vidas se ven de pronto alteradas por el inesperado regreso a la provincia del matrimonio Weaver, tras una larga y exitosa carrera en Londres. El reencuentro provoca delirantes escenas, encontradas sensaciones, viajes en el tiempo y disparatadas borracheras. A solas con la edad, los amigos se enfrentan a los demonios del pasado.Al final de su vida, Amis ofreció en esta inolvidable novela una síntesis de su universo literario, además de una alta y aguda comedia sobre la vejez y la amistad.
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