Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Review: "The Green Man" by Kingsley Amis
My only previous connection to Kingsley Amis was through his son Martin, of whom I have read four of his books. I find them to be a bit tawdry stylistically and not very impressive to varying degrees (I really liked Money: A Suicide Not and Time’s Arrow but really didn’t care for London Fields, although that has been on my re-read list for a few years), an attribute that his father now shares, because I was wholly, unabashedly unimpressed with The Green Man, a novel that is part ghost story and part family drama. I appreciate the trajectory of Amis’ work, which runs the gamut from kitchen sink realism to full blown science fiction, but this uninteresting mash up of two very unlike genres can only be seen, at least for me, as a staggering misstep. I at least like the opening, where we are introduced to the life of Maurice Allington, a former scholar who now owns a century’s old inn that only appears haunted to him. He lives there with his second wife Joyce, his two kids Nick and Amy and his feeble 80 year old grandfather. After a series of events, which include the death of his grandfather by possible ghost sighting, the rebellion of Amy and a rather hilarious interlude where he is cast out of the threesome he initiated, Maurice must contend with the ghost that haunt his abode and threaten to tear his life apart. After introducing really strong characters, Amis fails when it comes to action and motivation, with vague scene after vague scene leading to an underwhelming climax and realization on Maurice’s part. While his varied output promises a different kind of book each time (my interest might lie with Lucky Jim), like his son, I don’t see myself in a big hurry to read anything else by him.