Saturday, February 09, 2008

Book #9: The Biographer's Moustache by Kingsley Amis

After reading The House of Meetings by Martin Amis, I was interested in reading more books by him. At Dasa, my favorite used book store in Bangkok, I found several more books by him as well as books by his father, Kingsley Amis.

In the Biographer's Moustache, a journalist named Gordon Scott-Thompson hits on the idea to write an in-depth biography about a writer of several grade B novels and poems. Jimmie Fane, an upper-class type, agrees, thinking that it will raise his standing at the club and finds it amusing that it might stimulate a revival of his books. The biographer/ subject relationship becomes uncomfortable close, but Gordon finds that the wealthy seem to get amusement with toying with him and other 'commoners.'

One review I read said this was not Amis' best novel, so I'm interested in reading others. His style is snappy, and his characters are swiftly draw. He writes humor well, although a lot of the snips about classes in the UK were kinda obscure. While his original characterization of Gordon is not that favorable, Gordon does grow during the book. He finds himself in situations created by Fane, which make him weigh what he is doing (even when he considers what the right thing to do would be, and then goes ahead and does the wrong thing). In some of the text, the omniscient narrator knows what Gordon is up to, and describes Gordon's actions as a unwinding mystery to the reader.

From Fantastic Fiction I found this short biography:
Sir Kingsley Amis, who died in October 1995, was born in London in 1922. In 1954 his first novel, 'Lucky Jim', burst onto the literary scene with extraordinary force, gaining him instant fame and notoriety as one of the most prominent of the so-called 'angry young men'. He went on to write over twenty novels (winning the Booker Prize in 1986 for 'The Old Devils'), and many volumes of poetry and non-fiction. He was knighted in 1991. His last novel, 'The Biographer's Moustache', was published in September 1995.

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