It operates as a refuge for a civilizing element in short supply in contemporary America: honest criticism
The old devil
by Mark Steyn
On Zachary Leader's new biography of Kingsley Amis.
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In the BBC TV adaptation of Kingsley Amis’ 1986 novel The Old Devils, John Stride gives a gleeful, roaring performance as Alun Weaver, a celebrity novelist and professional Welshman recently returned from London to his native clime. There’s a scene set at a book-signing for mostly effusive customers, to whom Weaver responds with a glance up from the table and some labored demurring: “No, no, you are too kind. This is mere hack work.”
And then an intense young man appears. “I’m a great fan,” he begins, “but I didn’t think this book quite captured the lyrical freshness of Mumbles Boy.”
There is the briefest of pauses, just time for a malicious smile from the novelist. “Why, thank you very much,” he replies. “And what on earth makes you think I’m interested in the opinion of ...
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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 25 March 2007, on page 9
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