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GIRL, 20 by Kingsley Amis

GIRL, 20

by Kingsley Amis

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 1971
ISBN: 0671671200
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

This is Kingsley Amis as you know him best (after Lucky Jim and before The Green Man) in which via a fatcat Englishman, Sir Roy Vandervane, he manages to strafe the scene with an exactitude of eye and ear which is infallibly and fractiously funny. And you cannot question his prophylactic purpose as he manages to lay it all out even where storywise he doesn't manage to get it together -- whether it's murky, trendy pubs and discotheques, or decor, or apparel on and off Carnaby Street, or speechways ("you old buhg") or politics, or sex. It's sex which really starts this going since Sir Roy, an arrantly assured and aging shag and a popular conductor, is making it with girls who are getting younger at half the rate he's getting older -- he has tired of his wife and "normal, decent God-fearing sex." Then there's Douglas, a younger man, who's retained by Sir Roy's wife to do something about it although he's also being used by Roy as a go-between -- with Penny who's their daughter who's involved with a black man and without Vivienne who is Douglas' current girl, etc. And so it goes, with some of the too convenient switches which make the novel no more than a vehicle for its cultural commentary and basically moral intention. Thus the comic effects and comic they are become purely pleasurable perquisites -- like Penny when she is handed over to Douglas -- as attractive a prospect as "the free offer of a new and prodigious set of hi-fi equipment.