Russian Hide and Seek by Kingsley Amis (1980)

This is another surprise from an author I’m getting used to being surprised by. Amis has the reputation of writing realistic comic novels about the contemporary world, skewering contemporary trends and types with a speciality in documenting scabrous and often misogynistic ‘problems with girls’ – but of the seven novels before this one, only two […]

Jake’s Thing by Kingsley Amis (1978)

The thing about you and your wife making love was that it made things all right, not often forever but always for a long time and always for longer than the actual love-making. In that it was unique; adultery could make life more interesting but it couldn’t make things all right in a month of […]

The Alteration by Kingsley Amis (1976)

Counterfactual history This is a startling surprise in Amis’s oeuvre, a counterfactual fantasy set in a meticulously-worked-out alternative England, an England in which Prince Arthur didn’t die and so Henry VIII never gained the throne, there was no Reformation, no Protestant tradition and no Industrial Revolution. Instead England in 1976 is dominated by the Catholic […]

The Crime of The Century by Kingsley Amis (1975)

You couldn’t be our man, because it would have to have meant a bloke who writes detective stories had started setting up a detective story in real life, and that kind of thing only happens in detective stories. (p.129) Amis was commissioned by the Sunday Times to write a detective serial to run in the […]

Ending Up by Kingsley Amis (1974)

Another mistaken forecast of his had been that, knowing what he knew, he would come to prize the things outside himself, like the scene before him; yet another, that he would have been able to look back on his life and – not find a meaning in it, which he had never hoped for, but […]

The Riverside Villas Murder by Kingsley Amis (1973)

‘You’ll find the blurb, the summary inside the jacket, is rather misleading as regards one crucial point. But I think that’s more or less legitimate, don’t you? After all, the whole raison d’ĂȘtre of a murder story is to trick the reader. Isn’t it?’ (p.160) This is a historic murder mystery novel, set in the […]

Girl, 20 by Kingsley Amis (1971)

‘Ageing shag tries to stimulate jaded appetite by recreating situation of days of first discovery of sex plus whiff of illegality.’ (p.69) After the madcap freedom of Riotous Assembly by Tom Sharpe, returning to Amis felt like walking back into a cocktail party uncomfortably packed full of stuffy, unattractive, middle-aged English people all getting drunk and […]

The Green Man by Kingsley Amis (1969)

Another voice spoke then, but I never remembered to what effect. I know only that, after some lapse of time, I was standing in front of my house while a car – a Humber Hawk, perhaps – receded into the distance. I felt like a man on the moon, almost weightless, or as if on […]

I Want It Now by Kingsley Amis (1968)

Ronnie… sat on the opposite side of the deck with some people called Sir something and Lady Saxton and, a yard or two further off, Chummy Baldock, who was drinking a glass of beer and, to all appearances, sneering at the sea. Ordinarily, Ronnie despised the sea himself: it was a part of scenery and […]

The Anti-Death League by Kingsley Amis (1966)

‘Do you believe in God?’ ‘I’ll have to think about that. I’ve never been able to understand what it means, you see. It’s the most difficult idea I’ve ever heard about. And yet people seem to get results by it all the time.’ Churchill said animatedly, ‘Only people with no sense of right and wrong. […]