Thursday, June 4, 2009

79. The Old Devils – Kingsley Amis

Read in September 2007
History: This book was published in 1986.
Plot: This story centers around the lives of a group of friends and acquaintances in their retirement and is based in Wales. Alun Weaver, a notable but obnoxious author, returns to his native Wales with his wife Rhiannon, sometime girlfriend of Weaver's old acquaintance Peter Thomas. Weaver begins associating with a group of former friends, all of whom have continued to live locally while he was away. As well as Thomas, they include Malcolm Cellan-Davies and the alcoholic Charlie Norris. While drinking in the house of another acquaintance, Weaver drops dead, leaving the rest of the group to pick up the pieces of their brief reunion.Throughout the whole book, alcohol plays a central role. These people drink it like water. Kingsley was a big alcoholic. Their lives are really, really sterile. They have dashed hopes that they protect but never verbalize, they spend all their lives going to parties they don’t enjoy, engaging in trivial or banal conversation, going through routines without ever thinking of why and always the endless flow of fluid. Mostly, they’re trapped by their fear of each other, of not being accepted by the group, as if this social circle is all there is to life. They have secret affairs with each other which none of them have the balls to even acknowledge to themselves half the time.
Review: I listened to this book. My first Kingsley Amis book, and I like the sarcastic way that Kingsley Amis writes.
Opening Line: ‘If you want my opinion,’ said Gwen Cellan-Davies, ‘the old boy’s a terrifically distinguished citizen of Wales.’
Closing Line: The poem, his poem, was going to be the best tribute he could pay to the only woman who had ever cried for him.
Quotes: “Women have an awful way of feeling things there’s no point in them feeling.” “how small a part people played in each others’ lives and how little they knew about them, even if they saw them every day”
Rating: Good, with boring parts.

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