1. Celebrate Kingsley Amis’s Birthday by Contemplating Your Own Death

    It’s what he would want.

    With reasonable care and a hell of a lot of luck you might last another ten years, or five years, or two years, or six months, but then of course again on the other hand as I’m sure you’ll appreciate trying to be completely objective about the matter you might not. So in future, if there is any, every birthday is going to have a lot of things about it that make it feel like your last one, and the same with every evening out, and after four of your five years or five of your six months the same with most things, up to and including getting into bed and waking up and the rest of it. So whichever way it turns out…it’s going to be difficult to feel you’ve won, and I don’t know which is worse, but I do know there’s enough about either of them to make you wish you could switch to the other for a bit. And it’s knowing that every day it’s more and more likely that one or the other of them will start tomorrow morning that makes the whole business so riveting.

    —Kingsley Amis, The Green Man

  2. The Daphne Awards (for the best books published 50 years ago)

    An award that a classics series can finally stand up tall and participate in!
    Read why Bookslut wants to award a prize for the best book of 1963 here. And they’re accepting nominations.

    Let’s see, what have we got from 1963?

    FICTION
    One Fat Englishman by Kingsley Amis
    The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes
    The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy (copyright 1963, 1964—but apparently published in ’64)
    The Tenants of Moonbloom by Edward Lewis Wallant
    The Day of the Owl by Leonardo Sciascia*
    Chaos and Night by Henry de Montherlant

    NONFICTION
    Memoirs of a Revolutionary by Victor Serge*
    Miserable Miracle: Mescaline by Henri Michaux*
    Born Under Saturn: The Character and Conduct of Artists by Rudolph and Margot Wittkover

    KIDS
    Three Ladies Beside the Sea Rhoda Levine, illustrated by Edward Gorey

    *First translated into English in 1963

  3. Dump Your Significant Jerk Day—the NYRB Way.

    image

    In honor of Dump Your Significant Jerk Day (today!), we offer you this picture of Kingsley Amis, asleep by the shore and ably punked by a clever beach-goer/very disgruntled lover his wife, Hilly—in lipstick, no less.

    There is almost an eternity of epic break-ups across the NYRB Classics series, but Amis penned some of the most dumpable jerks ever—jerks like Maurice Allington of The Green Man (cheating on his adoring wife Joyce with Diana; angling for a threesome with Diana and Joyce; left by both women for each other) and vain Sir Roy Vandervane of Girl, 20 (who to his latest youthful infatuation poetically intones, “What makes you such a howling bitch?”). And those are just two of the major dumpable jerks in Amis’ novels…don’t even get us started about Roger Micheldene from One Fat Englishman.

  4. “You’ll find that marriage is a good short cut to the truth. No, not quite that. A way of doubling back to the truth. Another thing you’ll find is that the years of illusion aren’t those of adolescence, as the grown-ups try to tell us; they’re the ones immediately after it, say the middle twenties, the false maturity if you like, when you first get thoroughly embroiled in things and lose your head. Your age, by the way, Jim. That’s when you first realize that sex is important to other people besides yourself. A discovery like that can’t help knocking you off balance for a time.”

    — Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim (via kidpretentious)
    Give Lucky Jim to the twenty-something in your life so that you don’t have to give him/her a lecture like this to his face.

  5. Kingsley Amis Celebration @ McNally Jackson: Sunday, September 22nd, 6PM

                                

    After you’ve sated yourself on the literary richness that is the Brooklyn Book Festival, you should really top of your day by attending the launch celebration for Kingsley Amis’ Girl, 20 and One Fat Englishman at NYC’s  McNally Jackson Books. Discussing Amis and these books will be NYRB Classics editor, Edwin Frank, Katie Roiphe, author of In Praise of Messy Lives, Lucas Wittman, literary editor of The Daily Beast, Christian Lorentzen, editor at the London Review of Books, and Michael Moynihan, reporter at Newsweek/The Daily Beast.

    Need we mention that alcohol will be served? No. We didn’t think so.

    The party and discussion begins at 6PM. Visit the event page here for more info.

  6. 
[Dixon] didn’t like having to breakfast so early. There was something about Miss Cutler’s cornflakes, her pallid fried eggs or bright red bacon, her explosive toast, her diuretic coffee which, much better than bearable at nine o’clock, his usual breakfast-time, seemed at eight-fifteen to summon from all the recesses of his frame every lingering vestige of crapulent headache, every relic of past nauseas, every echo of noises in the head.

—Kingsely Amis, Lucky Jim
A reader in Tuscon, Arizona, sent in this photo along with his favorite line from Lucky Jim:

He disliked this girl and her boy-friend so much that he couldn’t understand why they didn’t dislike each other.

Do you have a picture of one of our books with coffee or tea? Send it to this address and we’ll post them here (making you an honorary member of the Classics and Coffee Club).

    [Dixon] didn’t like having to breakfast so early. There was something about Miss Cutler’s cornflakes, her pallid fried eggs or bright red bacon, her explosive toast, her diuretic coffee which, much better than bearable at nine o’clock, his usual breakfast-time, seemed at eight-fifteen to summon from all the recesses of his frame every lingering vestige of crapulent headache, every relic of past nauseas, every echo of noises in the head.

    —Kingsely Amis, Lucky Jim

    A reader in Tuscon, Arizona, sent in this photo along with his favorite line from Lucky Jim:

    He disliked this girl and her boy-friend so much that he couldn’t understand why they didn’t dislike each other.

    Do you have a picture of one of our books with coffee or tea? Send it to this address and we’ll post them here (making you an honorary member of the Classics and Coffee Club).

  7. Kingsley Amis Goes to Church

    "What’s it like in your country?  We hear so many strange things of it which can’t be true.  Not all of them."

    "It’s beautiful, Hubert, which nobody believes who hasn’t seen it.  And various, because it’s so extensive.  Seven hundred miles from north to south, four hundred miles across in places, three times France.  In the north-east in winter, everything freezes solid for three months; in the south, there are palm trees and lions and swamps and alligators…"

    Sound familiar?  The place described is New England, but not the one you know.  Ready for a world where the Reformation never happened, electricity is considered “appallingly dangerous” in 1976, and a young choir boy is facing a hair-raising surgery?  Kingsley Amis’ alternate history The Alteration is out now, a vivid take on a repressive religious society that Phillip K. Dick called “ One of the best- possibly the best- alternate-worlds novels in existence.” 

  8. Green Men

    image

    Kingsley Amis's very funny and very scary ghost story, The Green Man, has just been released.  The cover features an excellent depiction of the Green Man by Eric Hanson, following in the footsteps of many wild cover variations, including the above, and this one too.

    Striking a different tone altogether is the soft-core 1970s Panther edition. Thanks to Ryan Britt’s Tor.com review (“like Fawlty Towers Plus Sex and Ghosts”) of the book for bringing this one to our attention.

  9. On Monday, Throw back a pint with Kingsley Amis

    Half King

    On Monday, May 6th at 7 PM, writers Lev Grossman, Nathaniel Adams, and Jen Vafidis will discuss Kingsley Amis’ newly reissued novels, the alternate history The Alteration and the ghost story The Green Man at the Half King. Co-sponsored with Vol. 1 Brooklyn.

    Full details here.

  10. “Victor was a blue-point Siamese, a neutered tom-cat now in the third year of his age. He entered, as usual, in vague semi-flight, as from something that was probably not a menace, but which it was as well to be on the safe side about. Becoming aware of me, he approached, again as usual, with an air of uncertainty not so much about who I was as about what I was, and of keeping a very open mind on the range of possible answers. Was I potassium nitrate, or next October twelvemonth, or Christianity, or a chess problem—perhaps involving a variation on the Falkbeer counter-gambit? When he reached me, he gave up the problem and toppled on to my feet like an elephant pierced by a bullet in some vital spot. Victor was, among other things, the reason why no dogs were allowed at the Green Man. The effort of categorizing them might have proved too much for him.”

    — 

    Kingsley Amis knew his cats.
    This is from his ghost-story The Green Man (which is also the name of the narrator’s inn, from which dogs are banned in deference to the feline Victor Hugo).

    and here’s Amis’s poem “Cat English.”

  11. "The funniest novel I have ever read"

    Are you a rereader? What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?

    I don’t do much rereading anymore because I’ve been ill and feel that I’m running out of time. But recently I did reread all of Evelyn Waugh’s novels, and was pleased to find that he was almost as thoughtful as, say, Olivia Manning, although his snobbery sometimes grates. Also, I enjoyed Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis, all over again: the funniest novel I have ever read. Is there some Bulgarian equivalent, languishing untranslated? Probably not.

    —Clive James, novelist, critic, poet and recent translator of Dante’s Divine Comedy, was in the The New York Times Book Review answering questions in their "By the Book" column. We’re thrilled he enjoyed rereading Lucky Jim, and will make it easier to return to Olivia Manning as we are publishing the second trilogy in the Fortunes of War series, The Levant Trilogy, in Spring 2014 (we published The Balkan Trilogy in 2010).

    (illustration by Jillian Tamaki)

  12. thebooksmith:

OH YES OH YES

In honor of the release of Kingsley Amis’s ghost story, The Green Man and his alt-history, The Alteration, we have a slew of SF, fantasy, and horror books on sale (for a limited time).
SALE!
And, for Anglophile eyes only, a bonus sentence from The Green Man that uses the terms “birds” (to mean women) and “steak-and-kidney pie.”

    thebooksmith:

    OH YES OH YES

    In honor of the release of Kingsley Amis’s ghost story, The Green Man and his alt-history, The Alteration, we have a slew of SF, fantasy, and horror books on sale (for a limited time).

    SALE!

    And, for Anglophile eyes only, a bonus sentence from The Green Man that uses the terms “birds” (to mean women) and “steak-and-kidney pie.”

  13. A conversation with the devil

    'Now then, I want you to stand up to Underhill and, uh…Put paid to him.'
    'How?'
    'I can't tell you that, I'm afraid. Sorry to be a bore, but I'll have to leave the whole thing to you. I hope you make it.'
    'Surely you know? Whether I will or not?'
    The young man sighed, swallowed audibly and smoothed his fair hair. ‘No. I don’t. I only wish I did. People think I have foreknowledge, which is a useful thing for them to think in a way, but the whole idea’s nonsense logically unless you rule out free will, and I can’t do that. They were just trying to make me out to be grander than I could possibly be, for very nice motives a lot of the time.’
    'No doubt. Anyway, I don't care for doing what you want. Your record doesn't impress me.'
    'I dare say it doesn't, in your sense of impress. But all sorts of chaps have noticed that I can be very hard on those who don't behave as I feel they should. That ought to weigh with you.'
    'It doesn't much, when I think of how hard you can be on people who couldn't possibly have done anything to offend you.'
    'I know, children and such. But do stop talking like a sort of anti-parson, old man. It's nothing to do with offending or punishing or any of that father-figure stuff; it's purely and simply the run of the play. No malice in the world. Well, I think you'll take notice of what I've said when you turn it over in your mind afterwards.'

    —A conversation between Maurice Allington, “drunk and seeing ghosts and half of my head”, and a young man, “about twenty-eight years old, with a squarish, clean-shaven, humorous, not very trustworthy face, unabundant eyebrows and eyelashes, and very good teeth,” aka the devil, from Kingsely Amis’s ghost story, The Green Man.

  14. “Go and throw down another of your specials and then trot round the dining-room apologizing for the bits of dogshit in the steak-and-kidney pudding while I chat up these birds.”

    — Is there a contest for most English-y sounding English sentence written in the English language? Because we just found this, from The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

  15. "and fly they bloody well did"

    "Peter’s getting-up procedures were less taxing to the spirit than [his friends] Charlie’s or Malcolm’s but they were no less rigid. They had stopped being what you hurried heedlessly through before you did anything of interest and had turned into a major event of his day, with him very much on his own, which was right for an oldster’s day. Among such events it was by far the most strenuous performance. The section that really took it out of him was the actual donning of clothes, refined as this had been over the years, and its heaviest item was the opener, putting his socks on. At one time this had come after instead of before putting his underpants on, but he had noticed that that way round he kept tearing them with his toenails.
          Those toenails had in themselves become a disproportion in his life. They tore the pants because they were sharp and jagged, and they had got like that because they had grown too long and broken off, and he had let them grow because these days cutting them was no joke at all. He could not do it in the house because there was no means of trapping the fragments and Muriel [his wife] would be bound to come across a couple, especially with her bare feet, and that was obviously to be avoided. After experimenting with a camp-stool in the garage and falling off it a good deal he had settled on a garden seat under the rather fine flowering cherry. This restricted him to the warmer months, the wearing of an overcoat being of course ruled out by the degree of bending involved. But at least he could let the parings fly free, and fly they bloody well did, especially the ones that came crunching off his big toes, which were massive enough and moved fast enough to have brought down a sparrow on the wing, though so far this had not occurred.”

    —A description of daily dressing, and cutting toenails, from Kingsley Amis’s The Old Devils, about a group of elderly couples living in Wales. This is from the point-of-view of Peter, elsewhere described as “a large, lumpish figure.”