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Showing 1-10 of 13 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 17 reviews
on October 11, 2016
I enjoyed the book ... almost every page had some sardonic comment that was worth a chuckle.

In different sections you follow a different elderly character from a revolving cast of long-time friends. Many of the scenes are written very well, capturing the tiny implications, inferences and innuendo that lie beneath the surface of even the most casual conversation.

One problem I had was trying to keep track of the secondary characters, in the end I gave up trying and enjoyed the cynical sarcasm, regardless of what character was supposedly mouthing it.

But if you're looking for highly developed characters - or any character development at all - this isn't the book. The men, with one exception, are very similar. Actually, there is one character who surprisingly becomes somewhat sympathetic towards the end of the book, but I think I should pause now and erect the ...


There! Now that we're past that I can talk more freely. At the end it would have been interesting to see how Peter and Rhiannon got on, reunited as lovers (or not?) after all these years. Instead we only hear about it from the outside. Then again, anything more revealing may have been too big a departure from how the rest of the story has been presented. And was Alun's sudden death just a way to get Peter and Rhiannon together again? One senses the meddling of the authorial hand becoming a bit too obvious.
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on March 13, 2013
In THE OLD DEVILS, Kingsley Amis examines the complex social dependencies that exist among six boozing sixty-something couples. In doing so, he creates three remarkable male characters that seem to originate from aspects of his own personality. These are Alun Weaver, a charming rogue and intellectual operator; Charlie Norris, a phobic alcoholic; and Peter, a fat man weary of modern life who eventually returns to his first love.

In writing TOD, Amis developed a book with 10 "parts". While there are exceptions, most of these "parts" are multi-chapter narratives that follow one or two characters through a few hours of their day. Part One, for example, is entitled "Malcolm, Charlie, Peter, and Others" and shows several major characters in TOD as they move towards, and then enjoy, the day's first drink. Meanwhile, Part Two, "Rhiannon and Alun", shows these characters return to Wales, after only second-tier celebrity in England, and reestablish old friendships. Part Three, "Charlie", shows the alcoholic Charlie Weaver on a pub crawl. Here, the reader learns about Charlie's friends and can see how the libertine Alun uses his friends to have and conceal liaisons with their wives. Here, my point is that each "part" exists in a very specific time and place and clearly establishes aspects of Kingsley's characters. TOD, in other words, is a disciplined narrative.

TOD is the third Amis novel that I've read. The others are Lucky Jim (New York Review Books Classics) and That Uncertain Feeling (Penguin Modern Classics), which were Amis's hilarious first and second novels. These are very British and carefully crafted, although Amis's son Martin famously declares that some of Kingsley's sentences, not only in these early novels, are fashioned in oak. In contrast, the sentences in TOD are often loose and even... well... maybe Kingsley wanted a drink and couldn't be bothered to tighten all the screws. For example:

"One of Malcolm's troubles, and many others' too, was that he expected not only to follow conversations himself but that those around him should do the same, without any allowance for their being bored, mad, deaf, thick, or drunk without having been seen by him personally to set about becoming so."

"... with the low cloud and heavy rain outside, the twilight seemed to closing in already. Never mind that by the calendar it was still summer, the local weather had always had its own ideas on that."

This looser style sometimes enables Kingsley's funniest remarks. Even so, this style, which probably captures how certain Brits spoke in the 1980s, does also create occasional cloudiness in the text. For this reason, I think the greatest fans of TOD might well be Brits or those who have spent serious time in England and don't need to think about the shape or center of English phrasing.

Regardless, TOD is a compassionate and very funny novel and a worthy winner of the Booker.

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on August 20, 2016
His style makes it a little hard to follow sometimes and to remember all of the characters, but this is a wonderful book. I read Lucky Jim a few weeks ago, and thought that his was much better--although I also liked Lucky Jim, just not as much
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on June 8, 2015
Kingsley Amis received a Booker Prize for this novel. I had read Lucky Jim some years ago and thought this one ought to be good. It starts a bit slowly, but gathers momentum as the various characters, almost all late-middle aged near alcoholics, are fleshed out. Amis was Welsh, but he wrote very convincingly about life in Wales. At the end I was sorry to say goodbye to the group of aging friends.
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on February 21, 2015
Extremely comical, satirical. Amid strikes again with his arrows that go to the heart of the matter -- aging, vanity, sex, and booze, lots and lots of booze. Intricately plotted with a large group of extremely colorful characters who come to life and remain in the mind. Colorful descriptions and much Welshness.
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on July 3, 2013
This was satisfactory bedtime reading, amusing with some interesting characters (who drink far too much for their own good, but that was fairly typical for the period and class, I think) and a surprise development or two toward the end.
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on December 12, 2013
classic Amis trademark wry humor tinged with a rare emotionality. A story of 3 men in their dotage and their stories that follow the return of an old friend and his wife , an old flame too.
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on May 28, 2014
Easy read but characters not very endearing to me. I got annoyed that over age 50 or 60 was portrayed as falling apart!
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on May 29, 2015
Kingslry Amis wrote many good books and I would classify him one of the best writers of GB in the last century.
The Old Devils is in my opinion the best of them all.
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on March 31, 2015
fun fun fun... you might like if you old goat man like me....
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