Top critical review
9 people found this helpful
One third of this book is great ...
on 11 March 2010
... And the other two thirds are a rare instance of Kinglsey Amis just not trying, or feeling a lack of his usual wary wit. This is a compilation of the three books he wrote about boozing in the seventies and eighties, of which the first, 'On Drinking', is an absolute joy - like his best fictional writing, it's true, enjoyable and consistently funny. The descriptions of his inventive list of cocktails are very fun, his distinction between the physical and the metaphysical hangover (and consequent cures for both) are thoughtful, and the analysis of the drinking man's guide to making guests feel they've drunk well at a dinner party is basically a very entertaining short story. All of them are very funny, and extremely quotable.
The second two thirds of the book are made up of a) a collection of columns written in the early 80s for the Express, in which he comes across as rather tired (uncharacteristically for him I've failed to find a single funny line in it - it was written in quite a fallow period after Jake's Thing and Stanley and the Women, regarded as lesser books of his I think, and before he came back to form with the magnificent The Old Devils), and b) a collection of quizzes. I can't quite put into words how disappointing it is to expect to find 100 pages of Kingsley Amis writing about booze and to discover a whole section of unadorned quizzes.
Nevertheless I can't recommend the first 100 pages enough - easily worth five quid.