Books

Raising A Smile

Kingsley Amis

This vast and hugely entertaining collection is vintage Amis from a succession of good years. All of his best non-fiction pieces have been gathered together to reveal Kingsley Amis at his most typically robust and incisive: cutting a swathe through such subjects as writers and writing, 'Abroad', eating and drinking, music, language and education. Ridden hard and fast are such Amis hobby-horses as arts subsidies, literary prizes, and jazz; and among the writers discussed at length are Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell, Anthony Burgess and Ian Fleming, as well as Amis's beloved Philip Larkin.

In these pages we can eat out at some of Amis's favourite (and unfavourite) restaurants, we can sample the Amis hangover cure, and we can wince at the horrible truth of Sod the Public: A Consumer's Guide.

Colonel Sun

Kingsley Amis

First published in 1968, four years after Ian Fleming’s death, this was the first Bond ‘continuation’ novel, penned by one of Britain’s finest novelists, Kingsley Amis.

‘A man in my line of business shouldn’t work to a timetable’

Lunch at Scott's, a quiet game of golf, a routine social call on his chief M – James Bond’s life has begun to fall into a pattern that threatens complacency…until the sunny afternoon when M is kidnapped and his house staff savagely murdered. The action ricochets across the globe to a volcanic Greek island where, stripped of all professional aids, Bond must avert a world-menacing conspiracy and face unarmed the monstrous devices of the glacial, merciless Colonel Sun.

All the Blood Within Me

Kingsley Amis

Boarding the train at Euston, Alec begins the journey to his former lover's funeral. Theirs was an affair acknowledged and so permanent that they called themselves 'the Trio', but now only two of them remain. Returning, 'Uncle Alec' will be welcomed by his lover's children, her husband, Jim, and the suburban world that he left behind. As memories are rehashed and acquaintances re-met, this is a short tale of regret, old age and the lies that we tell ourselves. Through conversations, half-hung sentences and painful allusions, Kingsley Amis contemplates the purpose of love, the myriad ways of loving, and the complex web of relationships and distortions that make up our humanity.

Complete Stories

Kingsley Amis (and others)

The short stories of Kingsley Amis - the great master of post-war comic prose - are dark, playful, moving, surprising and extremely funny. This definitive collection gathers all Amis's short fiction in a single volume for the first time and encompasses five decades of storytelling. In 'The 2003 Claret', written in 1958, a time machine is invented for the weighty task of sending a man to 2010 to discover what the booze will taste like. In 'Boris and the Colonel' a Cambridge spy is unearthed in the sleepy English countryside with the help of a plucky horse, while In 'Mason's Life' two men meet inside their respective dreams. The collection spans many genres, offering ingenious alternative histories, mystery and horror, satirical reflections and a devilishly funny attacks. Amis's stories reveal the scope of his imagination and the warmth beneath his acerbic humour, and they all share the unmistakable style and wit of one of Britain's best loved writers.

Kingsley Amis' (1922-1995) works take a humorous yet highly critical look at British society, especially of the period following the end of World War II. Born in London, Amis explored his disillusionment with British society in novels such as THAT UNCERTAIN FEELING (1955). His other works include THE GREEN MAN (1970); STANLEY AND THE WOMEN (1984); and THE OLD DEVILS (1986) which won the Booker Prize. Amis also wrote poetry, criticism, and short stories.

Rachel Cusk was born in 1967. She has won the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Somerset Maugham Award, and is the author of two works of non-fiction and seven novels, including In The Fold, longlisted for the 2005 Man Booker Prize, and Arlington Park, shortlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize 2007. Her non-fiction book, A Life's Work, was published to huge acclaim in 2001, and her account of a summer spent in Italy with her family, The Last Supper, was published in 2009. Her most recent novel, The Bradshaw Variations was published in 2009. In 2003 she was chosen as one of Granta's Best Young Novelists. She lives in Brighton.

Difficulties With Girls

Kingsley Amis

In Kingsley Amis's Difficulties With Girls, Jenny Bunn and Patrick Standish have settled into London life with their troubled courtship long behind them. Patrick works in publishing and Jenny teaches sick children in a hospital. They have reached a certain level of maturity, or so they think. It is not long before they realize their respectability will be severely tested by seductive neighbours with a taste for whisky, the sexually confused Ted Valentine, and the literary set of Hampstead.

In this funny and provocative study of a young couple growing up, Amis shows us that the difficulty with marriage is that it's so hard to preserve, especially when Patrick and Jenny harbour deep yearnings for a different kind of life.

Kingsley Amis's (1922-95) works take a humorous yet highly critical look at British society, especially in the period following the end of World War II. Born in London, Amis explored his disillusionment in novels such as That Uncertain Feeling (1955). His other works include The Green Man (1970), Stanley and the Women (1984), and The Old Devils (1986), which won the Booker Prize. Amis also wrote poetry, criticism, and short stories.

Take A Girl Like You

Kingsley Amis

In Kingsley Amis's Take A Girl Like You, twenty year old Jenny Bunn is supernally beautiful and stubbornly chaste, which is why Patrick Standish, an arrogant schoolmaster, wants her so much. This perceptive coming of age novel about a northern girl who moves south, wants to fit in and yet wants to preserve her principles, challenges our assumptions about the battle of the sexes and classes in Britain. It is a story about 'the squalid business of the man and the woman' and 'the most wonderful thing that had ever happened' to Jenny Bunn.

Few twentieth century novelists have explored our preoccupation with sex like Kingsley Amis. The results are surprising and often hilarious.

Kingsley Amis's (1922-95) works take a humorous yet highly critical look at British society, especially in the period following the end of World War II. Born in London, Amis explored his disillusionment in novels such as That Uncertain Feeling (1955). His other works include The Green Man (1970), Stanley and the Women (1984), and The Old Devils (1986), which won the Booker Prize. Amis also wrote poetry, criticism, and short stories.

That Uncertain Feeling

Kingsley Amis

In That Uncertain Feeling by Kingsley Amis, competition is stiff for the position of sub-librarian in Aberdarcy Library. For John Lewis, the situation is complicated by the attentions of daunting and desirable village socialite, Elizabeth Gruffyd-Williams, who is married to a member of the local Council. Pursuing an affair with her whilst keeping his job prospects alive is John's predicament, as he finds himself running down Welsh country lanes at midnight in a wig and dress, resisting the advances of local drunks and suffering the long speeches of a 'nut-faced' clergyman.

At times tenderly satirical and at times riotously slap-stick, Amis sends up an array of rural stereotypes in this story about a man who doesn't know what he wants.

Kingsley Amis's (1922-95) works take a humorous yet highly critical look at British society, especially in the period following the end of World War II. Born in London, Amis explored his disillusionment in novels such as That Uncertain Feeling (1955). His other works include The Green Man (1970), Stanley and the Women (1984), and The Old Devils (1986), which won the Booker Prize. Amis also wrote poetry, criticism, and short stories.

I Want It Now

Kingsley Amis

The quickest way to get rich is to marry someone rich, but how do you do this if you aren't yet rich? TV chat-show host Ronnie Appleyard is preoccupied with this question as he pursues wealthy heiress Simona Quick over two continents in the company of braying aristocrats, Greek shipping magnates, American dandies and the dreaded mother-in-law to be. But as he comes closer to his prize other questions present themselves. Is the androgenous Simona really worth it? Why doesn't she like sex? Is it possible to drink all day? With his unerring eye for absurdity and class satire Kingsley Amis shows us what happens when money meets naked ambition.

The Riverside Villas Murder

Kingsley Amis

A mummy is stolen from a small town museum along with some Roman coins and a soaking wet man collapses in fourteen year old Peter Furneaux's living room bleeding from the head. What was a suspected student prank is followed by murder. At first it is impossible to see the connection, but the eccentric Colonel Manton does. With Peter's help the Colonel unravels a mystery that strikes fear into the heart of a genteel suburban neighbourhood and gives Peter rather more excitement than he bargained for at the tennis club social. This meticulously paced thriller shows Amis at his most subtle and daring.

New Maps of Hell

Kingsley Amis

In this hilarious, inspiring and provocative series of essays, Kingsley Amis introduces every reader to the wonders and value of science fiction writing. From the extraordinary ideas but sexless science of Jules Verne to the power of H. G. Wells's terrifying storytelling; from the brilliance of bad science fiction writing to the potency of their important ideas; from a portrait of the average SF reader to Amis's sad prediction that this genre will never make it in film or television, New Maps of Hell is a warm and witty exploration of a world many readers may be yet to discover.

The Folks That Live On The Hill

Kingsley Amis

Harry Caldecote is the most charming man you'll ever meet, a convivial academic who devotes his life to others. He is on call when his alcoholic niece falls into strange hands, when his brother threatens to emulate Wordsworth, when his son's lesbian lodger is beaten up by her girlfriend. He endures misplaced seductions, swindles and aggressive dogs just to keep the peace at the King's pub in Shepherd's Hill. But when the Adams' Institute of Cultural and Commercial History in America offers him the opportunity to do 'whatever he wanted to do' in a picturesque lakeside town, he faces a choice between freedom or responsibility - and whether to take charge of his own life.

The Anti-Death League

Kingsley Amis

In this surreal comedy of soldiers and spies, Lieutenant James Churchill and his colleagues find themselves questioning their purpose. Are they for death or against it? These men of action will travel between the barracks, the lunatic asylum and the house of an aristocratic nymphomaniac in search of answers. For while few know the awful truth about Operation Apollo, the mission they are being trained for, fewer still understand the motives of the powerful psychiatrist Dr Best, who thinks he is surrounded by repressed homosexuals, and none know the identity of the secret agent among them. When the Anti-Death League is founded they are at last offered the chance to rebel and perhaps escape ...

Lucky Jim

Kingsley Amis

'His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as a mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.'

Jix Dixon has a terrible job at a second-rate university. His life is full of things he could happily do without: the tedious and ridiculous Professor Welch, a neurotic and unstable girlfriend, Margaret, burnt sheets, medieval recorder music and over-enthusiastic students. If he can just deliver a lecture on 'Merrie England', a moderately successful career surely awaits him. But without luck, life is never simple . . .

One Fat Englishman

Kingsley Amis

Brimming with gluttony, booze and lust, Roger Micheldene is loose in America. Supposedly visiting Budweiser University to make deals for his publishing firm in England, Roger instead sets out to offend all he meets and to seduce every woman he encounters. But his American hosts seem made of sterner stuff. Who will be Roger's undoing? Irving Macher, the young author of an annoyingly brilliant first novel? Father Colgate, the priest who suggests that Roger's soul is in torment? Or will it be his married ex-lover Helene? One thing is certain - Roger is heading for a terrible fall.

Outrageously funny and irreverent, One Fat Englishman (1963) is a devastating satire on Anglo-American relations.

Girl, 20

Kingsley Amis

Douglas Yandell, a young-ish music critic, is enlisted by Kitty Vandervane to keep an eye on her roving husband - the eminent conductor and would-be radical Sir Roy - as he embarks on yet another affair. Roy, meanwhile, wants Douglas as an alibi for his growing involvement with Sylvia, an unsuitably young woman who loves nothing more than to shock and provoke. Life soon becomes extremely complicated as Douglas finds himself caught up in a frantic, farcical tangle of relationships, rivalry and scandal.

Girl, 20 is a merciless send-up of 1970s London's permissive society from a master of uproarious comedy.

The King's English

Kingsley Amis

An indispensable companion for readers, writers, and even casual users of the language, the Penguin Modern Classics edition of Kingsley Amis's The King's English features a new introduction by Martin Amis.

The King's English is Kingsley Amis's authoritative and witty guide to the use and abuse of the English language. A scourge of illiteracy and a thorn in the side of pretension, Amis provides indispensable advice about the linguistic blunders that lie in wait for us, from danglers and four-letter words to jargon and even Welsh rarebit. If you have ever wondered whether it's acceptable to start a sentence with 'and', to boldly split an infinitive, or to cross your sevens in the French style, Amis has the answer - or a trenchant opinion. By turns reflective, acerbic and provocative, The King's English is for anyone who cares about how the English language is used.

Kingsley Amis (1922-1995), born in London, wrote poetry, criticism, and short stories, but is best remembered as the novelist whose works offered a comic deconstruction of post-war Britain. Amis explored his disillusionment with British society in novels such as Lucky Jim (1954) and That Uncertain Feeling (1955); his other works include The Green Man (1970) Stanley and the Women (1984), and The Old Devils (1986) which won the Booker Prize.

If you enjoyed The King's English you might like Amis's Lucky Jim, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'A terrific book ... learned, robust, aggressive, extremely funny'
Sebastian Faulks

Ending Up

Kingsley Amis

At Tuppenny-hapenny Cottage in the English countryside, five elderly people live together in rancorous disharmony. Adela Bastable bosses the house, as her brother Bernard passes his days thinking up malicious schemes against the baby-talking Marigold and secret drinker Shorty, while kindly George lies bedridden upstairs. The mismatched quintet keep their spirits alive by bickering and waiting for grandchildren to visit at Christmas. But the festive season does not herald goodwill to all at Tuppenny-hapenny Cottage. Disaster and chaos, it seems, are just around the corner ...

Told with Amis's piercing wit and humanity, Ending Up (1974) is a wickedly funny black comedy of the indignities of old age.

Dear Illusion

Kingsley Amis

'I suppose it was conceited of me. But it was fun. And I felt like getting a bit of my own back on some of the people who'd conned and flattered me into wasting all those years.'

In this wry, piercing short story from one of the greatest of all British postwar writers, an ageing poet considers the value of his art - and of the critics who've found genius in it. Then, with his final work, he exercises a unique revenge . . .

Lucky Jim

Kingsley Amis

Penguin Decades bring you the novels that helped shape modern Britain. When they were published, some were bestsellers, some were considered scandalous, and others were simply misunderstood. All represent their time and helped define their generation, while today each is considered a landmark work of storytelling.

Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim was published in 1954, and is a hilarious satire of British university life. Jim Dixon is bored by his job as a medieval history lecturer. His days are only improved by pulling faces behind the backs of his superiors as he tries desperately to survive provincial bourgeois society, an unbearable 'girlfriend' and petty humiliation at the hands of Professor Welch.

Lucky Jim is one of the most famous and influential of all British post-War novels.

Jake's Thing

Kingsley Amis

Jake Richardson, an Oxford don nearing sixty with a lifetime's lechery behind him, is in pursuit of his lost libido and heads off to the consulting room of a miniature sex therapist. Not one to disobey a doctor's orders, he runs the full humiliating gamut of sex labs and trendy 'workshops', where more than souls are bared. He decks himself with cunning gadgetry, dreams up a weekly fantasy, pets diligently with his overweight wife and browses listlessly through porn magazines behind locked doors. Is sex really worth it? As liberationists abuse him, a campus hostess bores him into bed - and even his own wife starts acting oddly - Jake seriously begins to wonder.

Biography

Kingsley Amis was born in south London in 1922 and was educated at the City of London School and St John's College, Oxford. After the publication of Lucky Jim in 1954, Kingsley Amis wrote over twenty novels, including The Alteration, winner of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, The Old Devils, winner of the Booker Prize in 1986, and The Biographer's Moustache, which was to be his last book. He also wrote on politics, education, language, films, television, restaurants and drink. Kingsley Amis was awarded the CBE in 1981 and received a knighthood in 1990. He died in October 1995.