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Thursday, June 02, 2016

The Green Man (1969) by Kingsley Amis

The Green Man was made into a mini-series with Albert Finney in the early 1990's.
Book Review
The Green Man (1969)
 by Kingsley Amis

  Kingsley Amis is a kind of English Norman Mailer figure, hard drinking and hard loving, but in a uniquely English way.  In between Lucky Jim, his break-out novel, published in 1954, and The Green Man, published in 1969, Amis published nine other full length novels, so the The Green Man is an example of "middle Amis" in the same way that Lucky Jim is the book to read for "early Amis."  "middle Amis" was known for combining his indelible English protagonist, drunken, philandering men like Amis himself, with genre fiction.  Science fiction was a favorite of his, but The Green Man is a straight-forward ghost story, like a Washington Irving story blended with the comic social novel tradition.

   The Green Man got dropped from the 2008 revision of the 1001 Books list, leaving Lucky Jim and the "late Amis" example of The Old Devils as his two representative works in the list.  This makes sense, since genre work, or books that cross genre themes with literary themes are often disfavored compared to "pure" works of literature by the same author (different considerations when the author is primarily an author of genre work.)

  It's hard to feel remorse for Amis losing a place on any canonical list of literature, since he is literally the epitome of the privileged, white, male novelist.  Surely, if you are going to make room for new voices, Amis pere is top of the list to be cut down a notch.

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