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Memoirs (Vintage Classics) [Paperback]

Kingsley Amis
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 2004 Vintage Classics
Elegant, provocative and hugely entertaining, Kingsley Amis's memoirs are filled with anecdotes, experiences and portraits of famous friends, family, acquaintances (and a few eminent foes). From his childhood days to Oxford and army life, his travels abroad and his years as a successful novelist, Memoirs offers extraordinary insights into a unique literary life.

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Memoirs (Vintage Classics) + The King's English (Penguin Modern Classics) + Lucky Jim (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (1 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099461064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099461067
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Endlessly entertaining... Good, rollicking stuff, and a delight to read... Sir Kingsley Amis is surely one of the funniest men alive" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Horribly enjoyable... The chief feeling is shame at laughing quite so much" (Independent on Sunday)

"Kingsley Amis's funniest book since Lucky Jim. It's humour is heart-warmingly malicious" (Sunday Times)

"He is nasty about people that have amply deserved it one way or the other; he deflates pretension; he exposes doublethink...he also excels in hailing poets and truepennies" (Guardian)

"Amis can be sharp and even brutal as well as funny and indiscreet...he has evidently written Memoirs with relish" (Sunday Telegraph)

Book Description

'Endlessly entertaining... Good, rollicking stuff, and a delight to read... Sir Kingsley Amis is surely one of the funniest men alive' Auberon Waugh, Sunday Telegraph

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Memoirs Kingsley Amis 16 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Thought this book would be far more entertaining than it was. The anecdotes were - for the most - quite boring.
Can't recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and very funny 17 Aug 2013
By Philip Mayo VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kingsley Amis tells us in the preface to this book that it is not about himself, or only so inasmuch as he features in relation to others. He describes it as a series of sketches about people that he knew well, or not very well, and there are many, including, to name only a very few, Philip Larkin, Robert Conquest, Terry Thomas, Lord Snowdon, John Betjeman, Anthony Burgess, Malcolm Muggeridge, Enoch Powell and Margaret Thatcher. He also includes some essays on periods of his life such as his time in the army, his time in America and a final piece about a stay in hospital (due to a broken leg) which gave him a glimpse of the final act which he felt was not too far distant. And indeed it wasn't - he died 4 years later.

He also tells us that writing about himself would be repugnant to him. Who would want to read about his dull (!!) life? he asks, and also he makes the valid point that to write honestly about his own life would involve hurting people that he was close to - people who he once, or still, loved. Fair enough. So this is not the book in which we get to know the real man. But it is a book in which he displays his wonderful command of the language, his wit, his ability to disarm with charm or mortally lay bare with the barbed comment. We also get to know at least a little more about a host of people, many of whom I knew very little about, other than their names, and their marketed profiles. This gives us a much closer look at the real people, caught in vignette form, and always in a way that makes us smile.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fire in a gypsy's bucket 28 May 2013
Format:Paperback
I first discovered Amis's work when (like most people of my age, I should imagine) I read "Lucky Jim" in the early 1970's. Bowled over by it, I spent the next few years reading everything I could by and about him, seeking out the minor works such as "Girl, 20", "I want it now" and "One Fat Englishman" and loving it all.
Then, round about 1976, with "Ending Up", I started to notice a change. He was becoming bitter and unpleasant; a streak of nastiness that had been just noticeable but largely sublimated in the surrounding humour was coming to dominate his work. After "Jake's Thing"(1978) I gave up on him.
The years passed. One day I found a copy of his "Memoirs" in a junk shop. Moved by the memory of what he had once been, I bought it, more out of plangent curiosity than by any expectation of enjoying it or even reading much of it at all. Opening it at random, I started reading...
and I just kept on.
It reminded me of what it had once been like to read his work - the sense that you weren't reading something written miles away by somebody else, but that he was sitting in the same room, talking to you, one friend to another. It was good to rediscover that sensation, and gave me a feeling that my early enthusiasm hadn't been wasted or foolish, but had instead been validated, as if his later, unpleasant works had somehow been relegated to a distant irrelevance in the greater scheme of things.
To call them "Memoirs" is, to say the least, stretching a point. They are more a collection of essays on different aspects of his past, and deal with whatever it took his fancy to write about. There are essays/chapters on, inter alia, Family, George Gale, USA(1&2), the Army, Tibor Szamuely and the Booker Prize.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read 23 May 2014
By John Mc
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating memoir which often makes you laugh out loud. His recollections of public and literary figures are very entertaining.
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4.0 out of 5 stars an interesting life 14 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Kingsley Amis was (IMHO) one of the best of the post-WWII novelists: amusing, acerbic, his observation was acute and his mimicry of ways of speech unparalleled; as well as all that, his novels and short stories were amazingly varied in setting and storyline. Reading these memoirs, one can see the basis for many of the episodes and characters in his writings. You'll probably enjoy the Memoirs more if you've read some of the novels previously, otherwise the references to them may not be revealing.

Since he is careful not to enlarge on episodes that might cause pain to those nearest to him, a brief overview of his life will enhance understanding of some of the shifts in his circumstances that are not fully explained here. It is well worth the trouble of doing this, for it was a life of considerable interest.

When I read the Memoirs, I wish that I'd known him personally and could have talked with him, or even just listened to him talking with others; it might easily not have been a cosy experience, because he was not a glad sufferer of anything approaching a fool, but it would have been memorable, and I'd have been able to put it in my own memoirs - if only I hadn't been too idle to write them.
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