Kingsley Amis centre. At the time, however, it came as something of a surprise. There are notable similarities between the way Amis Snr was regarded then and his son Martin is now. Kingsley was widely seen as past his best before The Old Devils came out and more column inches were devoted to denunciations of what commentators imagined he thought than to the words he wrote.
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Alun has for some time been an ambitious media personality whose career resulted in the "popularization" of Wales. He is vaguely blamed for the onslaught of developers and bad architecture in the country, though this seems to me baseless. A vile bastard masquerading as a chum. At once upon his return he commences to systematically cuckold most of his friends, whom he then routinely meets the next day at the Bible and Crown for round after round of powerful cirrhotic drinks. Everyone, or almost everyone, in The Old Devils drinks themselves into near insensibility on a daily basis.
For what else is there to do in culturally bereft Wales? Peter Thomas was a local college professor in the old days. Back then he seduced and knocked up his student, Rhiannon, still something of a beauty today, whom he promptly left for one Angharad, under the delusion of greener pastures.
Peter is now married to the imperious Muriel. Structurally The Old Devils is a traditional novel; there is nothing new or even innovative about it. There are no sophomoric metafictional tricks, for which I was grateful. The novel beguiles us chiefly through its mastery of technique. It is so sure footed. It makes a virtue of the run on sentence. It was surprising to find amid the rich comedic scenes these stretches of striking descriptive beauty.
Amis got the Booker Prize for this novel and one can see why. Here is everything he knows from the writing of, what, twenty novels? Here it is all in one book. He was essentially a comic novelist, like his son.
That was another striking thing, the similarity of phrasing between father and son. One can almost imagine them arguing about the merits of a proper sentence during their famous weekly meetings see Experience: A Memoir.
Highly amusing, often LOL funny. Exuberantly recommended.
Booker club: The Old Devils
The Old Devils