Abandoned Books

Reviews of books and authors not much discussed on the web.

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Kingsley Amis -- information

My take on Amis is that he's a typical late Twentieth Century writer -- that is, rather good but not really great, and certainly overrated in many respects. Lucky Jim is a lot of things, including sporadically amusing, but it's not exactly the comic masterpiece it's represented to be, for instance. (Much like Peyton Place, though, it's historically important and influential, and probably deserves to be read for that alone.) Most of Amis's other "serious" books are equal parts sexual obsession and self-loathing -- personally I think his best effort, and maybe his best book, is Girl, 20, where he manages to get outside himself, for a bit, but in a manageable way unlike say Take A Girl Like You.

His genre pieces are more formally experimental and more engaging to read; I think his other "best book" is The Green Man, his take on the traditional English Ghost Story. Again, anything that kept the self-involvement down is generally good with him -- I haven't read them but suspect he was quite a fine essayist.

A very nice Wikipedia piece:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingsley_Amis

Steyn on Amis. Steyn not good on Amis. Steyn has big talent, but me no think literary criticism one of them.

http://www.newcriterion.com/archives/25/03/the-old-devil/ (You gotta register to get the full piece of this.)

An example of the endless apologetics certain folk -- in the UK especially -- make for this guy. I rather like his boorishness myself, but at least I understand that's a weakness in my character.

http://www.tls.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25336-2576533,00.html

This is interesting only in that I graduated from Williams and I think I might've had a run-in with this guy. (I had a run-in with almost all the literature people there.) If I remember right, it was a novel survey course, some of it good -- he was good on Tom Jones -- some of it not. This particular piece is notable for it's dullness.

http://www.williams.edu/English/faculty/rbell/scholarship-and-criticism/AmisIntro.html

And this is interesting for a mention of Paul Fussell writing on Amis, I am very curious what a contrary appreciation might look like. Oh, and that he liked Flashman -- that's the kind of thing that would endear any man to me.

http://books.guardian.co.uk/authors/author/0,5917,-5,00.html

There's others, including what looks to be a big glossy article on Kingsley and Martin Amis, but I didn't really feel like poking around any further.

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