Girl, 20

Girl, 20

Book - 1972 | 1st American ed
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Kingsley Amis, along with being the funniest English writer of his generation, was a great chronicler of the fads and absurdities of his age, and Girl, 20 is a delightfully incisive dissection of the flower-power phase of the 1960s. Amis's antihero, Sir Roy Vandervane, a conductor and composer who bears more than a passing resemblance to Leonard Bernstein, is a pillar of the establishment who has fallen hard for protest, bellbottoms, and the electric guitar. And since vain Sir Vandervane is a great success, he is also free to pursue his greatest failing: a taste for younger and younger women. Highborn hippie Sylvia (not, in fact, twenty) is his latest infatuation and a threat to his whole family, from his drama-queen wife, Kitty, to Penny, his long-suffering daughter. All this is recounted by Douglas Yandell, a music critic with his own love problems, who finds that he too has a part in this story of botched artistry, bumbling celebrity, and scheming family, in a time that for all its high-minded talk is as low and dishonest as any other.
Publisher: New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9780151356904
Branch Call Number: FIC AMIS
Characteristics: 253 pages ; 21 cm
Alternative Title: Girl, twenty


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Nov 14, 2013

Aside from the comic novels that Amis made his name with, he wrote poetry, articles about drink (a subject with which he was intimately acquainted), a study of sci-fi and even a James Bond sequel. Like a lot of readers, I started with "Lucky Jim," his classic comic novel, and have struggled to find others that have the same pop and fizz ("Take a Girl Like You" comes close). As he aged, he became crankier and his views and style curdled. I'd say he was something of a bigot, but he expressed contempt for almost everybody. This is a decent, curious novel about the 60s and a conductor.


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