Martin Amis on life and Kingsley Amis

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Martin Amis (left) describes seeing his father, Kingsley Amis (below), in a dream in his autobiography, Experience. Published in 2000, five years after his father's death, it's one of the most intimate accounts of a father-and-son relationship that I have ever read.

He writes:

Why should I tell the story of my life?

I do it because my father is dead now, and I always knew I would have to commemorate him. He was a writer, and I am a writer; it feels like a duty to describe our case — a literary curiosity which is also just another instance of a father and a son.

Kingsley_amis_2010 He writes about his father explaining the mysteries of sex to him and his elder brother, Philip, when they were schoolboys and the conversations they had when he had grown up.

His father pops up even when he is writing about other things. He recalls the articles he published in the New Statesman following the death of the critic FR Leavis and calling them a "symposium". A symposium originally meant a drinking party, he says and adds: 

And that is what Kingsley liked, above all things. Well, he probably liked adultery even better, in his manly noon, but the symposium was a far more durable and unambivalent pleasure — a love whose month was forever May.

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Kingsley Amis and Martin Amis

The publication of Martin Amis' new novel, The Pregnant Widow, has also turned the spotlight on his father, Kingsley Amis. A writer in the Guardian fondly recalled The Old Devils, the Kingsley Amis novel, which won the Booker Prize in 1986.

That's the prize that continues to elude Martin Amis. But that doesn't detract from his fame and success and talent as a writer. He is one of the best though not as prolific as his father. Their gifts extend beyond the novel, but I found it impossible to include all the non-fiction in these charts.

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