Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Was Kingsley Responsible for Martin's Books?

I've been reading Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis lately. Some of you might remember Kingsley as Martin Amis's Dad; others might tend to think of Martin as Kinglsey Amis's son; either way, this book is damned good, full of choice quotes:

"... Are you in love with him?'
'I don't much care for that word,' she said, as if rebuking a foul-mouthed tradesman.
'Why not?'
'Because I don't know what it means.'
He gave a quiet yell. 'Oh, don't say that; no, don't say that. It's a word you must often have come across in conversation and literature. Are you going to tell me it sends you flying to the dictionary each time? Of course you're not..."


"... People get themselves all steamed up about whether they're in love or not, and can't work it out, and their decisions go all to pot. It's happening every day. They ought to realise that the love part's perfectly easy; the hard part is the working out, not about love, but about what they're going to do. The difference is that they can get their brains going on that, instead of taking the sound of the word "love" as a signal for switching them off."

Great stuff!


Tim said...

Another great bit:

"Those who professed themselves unable to believe in the reality of human progress ought to cheer themselves up, as the students under examination had conceivably been cheered up, by a short study of the Middle Ages. The hydrogen bomb, the South African Government, Chiang Kai-Shek, Senator McCarthy himself, would then seem a light price to pay for no longer being in the Middle Ages."

The main character in Tim Parks's new novel, Cleaver, reminds me a lot of Kingsley Amis.

TimT said...

I don't know much about Kingsley Amis, but I have a clear picture of him in my head: fat, well-dressed, pen in one hand, probably a packet of cigarettes in his shirt pocket ...

Interesting person to find out more about, Kingsley. Apparently he became involved with the 1960s SF crowd ...

Rachy said...

pretty apt stuff

Caz said...

I've only read about him via his equally famous son ... he was "colourful", I gather, and father and son were very competitive, with the father begrudging in providing any scap of praise or encouragement to young Martin.

I still haven't bought or read Martin Amis' biographical book from a few years back, but by all accounts well worth the time.

TimT said...

I read somewhere that Kingsley hated his son's books, and that he used to throw them across the room when he got a copy!

Caz said...

Tim - that certainly rings a bell.

Always good to have Dad's support and encouragement, 'eh?

Email: timhtrain - at -

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