Monday, January 30, 2006

5. Take a Girl Like You by Kingsley Amis

Take a Girl Like You pictureLucky Jim is one of my favorite books. I've tried to read a few other of Kingsley Amis's books, The Green Man, Stanley and the Women, The Girls and none of them even came close to the acerbic wit, careening narrative trajectory and total satisfaction of Lucky Jim. I found Take a Girl Like You for 50 cents at the local thrift store. It had a neat cover so I picked it up.

It was okay, but sadly I'll have to put it in the same category as the other non-Lucky Jim Amis books. It is very similar in themes and tomes, taking place in a small college town, showing small social conflicts, often with subtle class and generational differences. The story is about a girl from a northern town who arrives in this suburb of London (thus a small step up in sophistication). She is very attractive and immediately becomes a center of interest. Fortunately, she is also quite sensible, despite her naïveté. The book's perspective jumps, without any apparent structure, between her point of view and the guy she ends up dating. We are never sure if he is really sincere or just wants to get laid as the central conflict revolves around the protagonist wanting to keep her virginity.

There are some funny moments and some funny critical passages. But I didn't really care too much about the main characters and when I did start being concerned with the heroine's passage, he would jump away. The sexual mores of this period, the late '50s also seem really bizarre and I had trouble understanding the characters' behaviours. They are all very loose sexually, constantly making out with other people, even when they are already definitely a couple. They get mad about some things and completely blasé about others. Maybe Amis was trying to be critical of this behaviour, but it didn't come across with any of the quiet ferocity of Somerset Maugham. The whole thing just left me kind of non-plussed and beginning to wonder about Amis reputation.

1 comment:

Crumbolst said...

Very interesting. I haven't read any Amis and have wondered about his rep. If I do pick up one of his books, it sounds like it should be Lucky Jim.

What in heaven's name is it about the cover that piqued your interested?