The Life Of Kingsley Amis, a new biography of the one-time James Bond continuation author (1968’s Colonel Sun) by Zachary Leader, has recently been released in the US.
In addition to his only Bond novel, literary 007 fans also know Amis for 1965’s The James Bond Dossier, which was a critical analysis of the Ian Fleming novels and The Book Of Bond Or, Every Man His Own 007, published under the pseudonym ‘Lt Col. William (‘Bill’) Tanner.’
Here is the authorized, definitive biography of one of the most controversial figures of twentieth-century literature, renowned for his blistering intelligence, savage wit and belligerent fierceness of opinion: Kingsley Amis was not only the finest comic novelist of his generation-having first achieved prominence with the publication of Lucky Jim in 1954 and as one of the Angry Young Men-but also a dominant figure in post–World War II British writing as novelist, poet, critic and polemicist.
In The Life of Kingsley Amis, Zachary Leader, acclaimed editor of The Letters of Kingsley Amis, draws not only on unpublished works and correspondence but also on interviews with a wide range of Amis’s friends, relatives, fellow writers, students and colleagues, many of whom have never spoken out before. The result is a compulsively readable account of Amis’s childhood, school days and life as a student at Oxford, teacher, critic, political and cultural commentator, professional author, husband, father and lover. Even as he makes the case for Amis’s cultural centrality–at his death Time magazine claimed that “the British decades between 1955 and 1995 should in fairness be called ‘the Amis era'”-Leader explores the writer’s phobias, self-doubts and ambitions; the controversies in which he was embroiled; and the role that drink played in a life bedeviled by erotic entanglements, domestic turbulence and personal disaster.
Dazzling for its thoroughness, psychological acuity and elegant style, The Life of Kingsley Amis is exemplary: literary biography at its very best.
The Life of Kingsley Amis was first published in the UK by Jonathan Cape in November 2006. It is also available to order in the US (published by Pantheon and a whopping 1,008 pages in length). A UK paperback is due out later this year.
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