Another brilliant book by Amis It s remarkable that his books are so incredibly hilarious but underneath it all is a real sadness or melancholy. Con el clima feminista y pol ticamente correcto que vivimos ltimamente a Kingsley Amis lo hubieran crucificado, aunque supongo que la gente con sentido del humor sabr a sabr apreciarlo porque el libro no est nada mal A m me ha gustado, no tanto como La suerte de Jim pero mucho m s que Los viejos demonios no aburre, la prosa es aguda y est lleno de situaciones estrafalarias y divertidas Ayuda leer el pr logo, en el que explican la raz n de la particular opini n del se or Amis sobre las mujeres. As If It Weren T Terrible Enough, Stanley Finds Himself Beset On All Sides By Women Neurotic, Half Baked, Critical Or Just Plain Capricious And He Begins To Wonder Whether Insanity Is Not Something With Which All Women Are Intimately Acquainted This book made me so angry I ripped it up directly after finishing it It s the worst piece of misogynistic garbage I have ever read and nothing can induce me to read another book by Kingsley Amis I didn t believe, then, in not finishing a book no matter how much it disgusted me but now I have decided life is too short and there are too many good, worthy books out there to read. In de memoires van Martin Amis Experience, 2000 wordt de moeizame verhouding met zijn vader Kingsley beschreven en tegelijk een openhartige blik op het literaire werk van de oude meester geworpen Vrouw en vijand lag verstikkend dicht tegen het pijnrooster aan Ik voelde bij Kingsley dat zijn evenwicht zoek was Dat mag een typisch Brits understatement genoemd worden, want zonder kromme tenen is deze curieuze roman niet door te komen In zijn weliswaar prachtig doorwrochte schrijfstijl worden we in de wereld van Stanley Duke geplaatst, verkoper van advertentieruimte bij een grote krant en voor de tweede maal getrouwd een mannetjesputter met het liefst doorlopend een borrel in de hand Als zijn zoon wordt opgenomen in een psychiatrische kliniek raakt Stanley de greep kwijt op zijn vooringenomen zekerheden omtrent de vrouwen om hem heen zijn echtgenote, zijn eerste vrouw en de behandelend arts Kingsley Amis stopt het hoofd van Stanley vol met gedachten die anno 2014 menig wenkbrauw doen fronsen en voor een overload aan boze kritieken op internet hebben gezorgd Misogyn is de meestgebruikte kwalificatie Sad, but humorous in many places and insightful about women, who should not read this book It should be remembered that it is written in the first person, which means that what the main character is saying and thinking is just that the character, and not necessarily the author Some reviewers have apparently missed that point.Stanley Duke, a middle aged Londoner, had a son, Steven, who developed schizophrenia This forced him, against his preference, to spend time with his ex wife, a woman of doubtful mental stability herself Every conversation with her was walking on thin ice, waiting for her to raise hell about what he said, how he said it, or what he didn t say.This also required visits to a female psychiatrist who hated him so much she went out of her way to blame him for the son s illness and whose animosity caused her to lose her objectivity and endanger Steven s recovery At the same time, Stanley had to work as advertising head at a newspaper, deal with a freeloading, cheapskate editor, and frequently encounter a former lover, now a friend He also looked after Steven, befriended his ex wife s new husband who drank heavily and acted drunk when he s not to avoid confronting the ex wife , and talked to his general practitioner and an older psychiatrist who had doubts about the female psychiatrist s technique His new wife was helpful, but her mother and sister, who visited frequently, made no effort to conceal their disdain for him and his son. This is Amis s view of how a man from South London lives inthe 80 s London, emphasizing his relationships with variouswomen his current wife, his ex wife, a doctor in charge oftreating his son for madness, etc Since Amis was himself fromSouth London, one may wonder if this is auto biographical.In any event, Amis is writing about a world he knew well and writing very well indeed None of the women is perfect,but the same can be said of the men The story does notresolve all of the complications of the plot Actuallythe narration ends at some point, and the reader can onlyguess how these characters will continue to get on in life.Maybe Amis wrote a sequel Even if not, it is a good story,though those who want everything wrapped up by the lastpage should look elsewhere. For such a depressing topic there sure are plenty of very funny moments and lines The party on the barge is quite funny Then there s this bit, as an example, when Stanley is going to visit his son in the mental hospital, for your enjoyment I turned the corner to find that an ambulance had drawn up outside the entrance and the two crewmen were helping down an old fellow who going on like a madman in a Bela Lugosi movie Shock headed, wild eyed, wrapped in a grey blanket, he was spreading his hands jerkily about in front of him as he shuffled forward, not actually screaming but crying out in a high wordless voice The men told him he was fine and doing great I was trying to look like a piece of the wall and had no idea how he saw me, but he did, and swung and swayed round This is an impeccable novel.Some would believe that getting intensely angry at the perceived slight to one s gender s honor due to the female protagonists in the book being portrayed as neurotic and selfish, is behavior that only helps prove that all women ever are kind, rational, and mentally balanced, and that it is therefore the duty of all novelists to portray their female characters in this way, and if they don t they have failed as novelists and human beings.Perhaps an analogy would help.When a Chinese or a Russian audience watches a James Bond film where the Chinese or the Russians are the baddies suppose Group A of the viewers judge the film on the basis of its cinematic qualities and its ability to entertain, while the Group B folks reject it outright on the grounds that it is anti Russian or anti Chinese , while the articulate of them even start lecturing earnestly everyone within earshot that not all Chinese or Russians plot to overthrow the west, this is a very narrow view, and perhaps even give a knowing sneer and say wryly something like Oh dear, looks like the film director has never met a normal Chinese person and has become bitter about it and such Which group would you say is made up of reasonable viewers, and which group of sad sacks Right.When one is ten years old, it s OK to judge books as good or bad because one likes or dislikes the characters When one is fifteen, it s OK to judge books as good or bad because one agrees or disagrees with the views of the main character or the author himself, should he make an appearance as straight omniscient POV which is a topic connected to the heart breaking subspecies of readers that are unable to make the distinction between the alleged views of the author, and those of his her characters, but that s a separate and morbid discussion.Once one is an adult, judging books thusly is a symptom and a diagnosis.The same way, for example, some victims of cerebral insufficiency can t read Death in Venice without flying into a rage due to perceived either vilification of homosexuality or promotion of pedophilia and similar tabloid online forum mentality drivel.No A book of fiction is judged by the quality of the prose, the characters, and the structure By the amount of time it took to finish, by whether you reread it again or not, by whether you would recommend it to someone else, by whether it made you rethink parts of your life, or perhaps helped you not think and instead relax really well, and such The other approach of the how dare you say all Chinese people plot to overthrow the west type isembarrassing tantrums of minds trapped in vicious loops of emotional agony which colors everything inside and outside them If pressed to the logical conclusions of their thoughts, the erudite of this crowd who do admit that they can not reasonably expect that every type of person is presented positively in popular entertainment, arrive upon a compulsive obsessive formula of fairness , where in a film or a book for every ignorant thug Italian there must be also a kindly and cultivated Italian to balance him out for every shrill and scheming woman there must be a reasonable and straightforward one for every broken down alcoholic loser homosexual there must be a fit and sober CEO homosexual and aside from this, also every conceivable stereotype must be foiled and subverted, and thus every character should or less do the opposite of what the biases of the readers and the audience expects them to, otherwise the book or film promotes fascism and ignorance.The moral principles behind this silliness are noble indeed, but are not really served very well by it.This book, like all Kingsley Amis books following the almost brilliant Lucky Jim The Alternation and Colonel Sun excluded from the list as sideline experiments , is impeccable Scott Fitzgerald wrote one A level The Great Gatsby , but Kingsley Amis has managed to write a score of English B level Gatsbys , which is a titanic achievement and an enormous contribution to the English literary language.And keeping in mind that in spite of all the toil that went into feminist theory since the 1960 s, with some terrific thinkers there, all that s filtered down to the pleb is the vague idea that female characters should behave either like boys with breasts or like wise semi goddesses, and preferably have all sorts of phallic boots and swords on them for good measure i.e the same decrepit idea of an Egyptian empress wearing a fake beard in order to be as good as a man , but applied to all of pop culture the epistemological basis which the whole misogynistic book author kerfuffle stands on graduates from dubious to ludicrous.Stanley and the Women is a book about a vaguely decent but also intensely selfish man with many character flaws and psychological blind spots, surrounded by a supporting cast of other intensely selfish men with many character flaws and psychological blind spots, and many intensely selfish womenwith many character flaws and psychological blind spots with the men periodically discussing with each other that the women are barking mad, or even sinisterly, are not barking mad but that their behavior is their type of sanity And the book works out perfectly Kingsley Amis is the greatest writer of the last wave of modernists much subtler than Tom Wolfe for example, displaying an infinitely higher mastery as a weaver of nuances.If you want to sample gorgeous nuances in popular post WWII literature, you turn to John le Carre, to Ross Macdonald, to Ramsey Campbell, to Peter Straub, and last but not least, indeed foremost to Kingsley Amis. While I have struggled myself to overcome the tendencey, I have nothing against the detached,ironic point of view.Sometimes the tone is just right for the material,but too often it is not an entirely satisfactory outlet of expression, affirming supercilliousness and a narrow,rigid style of observation that can seem cruel in its utter indifference to the emotional range of most lives.Used without sensitivity,instead of scathing social commentary we get value judgements and cheap wit that does nothing to illuminate anything than the authors preconditioned stance.In the case of KA, this stance is clearly moldy old patriarchal elitism mysogymy,and casual racism that Amis explicity defends as normal,common garden variety.He is concerned about his next drink and anxious comparing accents and nursing his ego than getting a grip on the situation he finds himself in when his only child,from his first marriage,has what we might politely call a nervous breakdown or mental health issues,otherwise and in this book known as going bonkers,flipping out,raving mad.At first I took the crassness of KA s attitude in stride,feeling sure,seeing as he is such a distinguished author and all, that the characters expressing such banalities were straw men I was counting on our hero, the narrator Stanley, to illustrate the quintessential wrongness of such contagious pessimism.But wait a minute I chose this particular book to read as an introduction to KA because it claimed on the back, to be about a middle aged parent dealing with a child s rough transition into the real world This does enter into the story,but in fact the title gives it away This is never about Steve, the disturbed son who appears only peripherally,as a kind of subplot in Stanleys life Stanley is far concerned with maintaining the delicate balance between himself and the women in his life,and exonerating himself from any blame in his sons issues Of course, he doesnt even get that right,given his actual fear and loathing of all women,made tolerable only by attaching himself to women he can subdue Independence of spirit as shown by his first wife is regarded as being unhinged,selfish and deluded.There were a few interesting points made,especially in the thread given to Steve s mysterious condition that eludes diagnosis His absolutely frightening psychiatrist is well done,but any insight gleaned from KA s send up of the entire proffession is too meagre and disconnected to justify reading this book.