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Comment: Ex-library softcover book. All the usual marks/stamps. Heavy wear to cover and edges of pages. minor water damage , still a good readable copy. Curled corners on cover
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Girl, 20 Paperback – April, 1989

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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'Not only a very funny book, it also hits dozens of nails smartly on the head' Observer 'Kingsley Amis has a wicked ear ... and a stiletto pen for pseuds' The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Summit Books (April 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671671200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671671204
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,033,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Kingsley Amis has again written a story of infidelity, destructive selfishness, and blatant stupidity and managed to make it hilarious. The basic story centers on a symphony conductor who, in an attempt to reawaken his lust for life, is having an ill-advised affair with a girl one-third his age. As you might expect, the disasters this creates in his life are quite entertaining. The narrator, an upper-crust music critic, speaks of the rapid disintegration of the conductor's family and his own love life with such detached snobbery, that even mundane events come alive with vivid humor. Especially funny is his description of a date that includes attending a wrestling event. One warning: Amis offers no clean-cut solutions, but turns expectations upside-down. The last page of Girl,20 comes as a surprise that will leave you wishing for more.
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Kingsley Amis, famous old alcoholic, womanizing fascist curmudgeon, and anti-Semite (you name it), has a very human and often unnoticed side that is shown to great effect in this excellent novel. The narrator, the music critic Douglas Yarnell, is asked by all his friends to help sort out their messes, and so he tries, but never with the slightest success. All the people he touches, or attempts to reason with, acknowledge his intelligence, the correctness of his argument, but decide to go their own way for reasons of the heart or lust or just because they have no choice. This is the world as Amis sees it, as it is, now, not as one would wish it be. Truth ring out. Amis's great talent, one very much in the manner of the great French realists, is his ability to depict the world with a cold and accurate eye. He sees all and misses nothing. But all of his characters are fully drawn, particularly the women. It is unusual for a man, and a heterosexual man at that, to understand the psychology of women as perceptively and wisely as he does. In this comic novel, no one is satirized or caricatured, easy as that might be, as they all behave ridiculously at some point or other. There is an enormous degree of compassion under the crust, a sort of unstated sadness. We are all what we are. We have been given a life to live, and it is our inalienable right to live it nobly or foolishly or to destroy it. Not a very uplifting message, I'll agree, but an unabashedly honest one, spoken in a voice that is uniquely his. First rate writing and highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
In Zachary Leader's biography of Amis, he quotes Christopher Hitchens as saying that, in `Girl, 20', Amis had `inflicted a satirical wound' on the `intellectual left'. He feels that this book, published in 1971, actually damaged the credibility of the left.

Kingsley Amis was an exceptionally perceptive writer, but he falls into the same trap that so many writers writing about the `swinging sixties' fall into, of conflating the radical left and hippy movements and assuming that all members of both were idiots, or at least failures. In fact the people who were idiots were the weekend hippies and armchair radicals who never took a risk in their lives and wore kipper ties and fantasized about being on television (or actually managed it).

Robert H Bell, a critic, in an accessible webpage about Amis's novels, feels this is a brilliant novel about people who lead `desparate, bleak and terrible lives'.

Personally I found all but one of the characters highly unattractive. We have a total wimp of a narrator, who takes everybody's side and never says no to anyone, a famous conductor with an IQ of 70, the narrator's girlfriend who competes with her partner in acquiescence, a nasty newspaper editor and a high-class 17 year old harridan, not to mention an odious small boy and his pathetic mother.

Excuse me while I collect myself.

The only attractive character is Vandervane's (ie the conductor's) daughter who has spirit and intelligence, and doesn't constantly assume centre stage pontificating like everyone else.

Because Amis is an excellent writer his surface cynicism is always layered over a certain `we're all in it together' empathy, which this girl somehow embodies.
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