- The Russian Girl by Kingsley Amis
Hutchinson, 296 pp, £14.99, April 1992, ISBN 0 00 917453 2
Two core propositions occupy the centre of Sir Kingsley’s fiction, and are doggedly reflected in his occasional journalism, his memoirs, his poetry and his conversation. Rendered as questions, these propositions make it vitally necessary to ask, of everything: ‘Is it any good?’ and ‘Is it nice, or is it nasty?’ (Amazingly, he himself answers in the affirmative when these questions concern, of all crappy things, Science Fiction.) Generally, though, the interrogation is more discriminating than it sounds. To be more specific, life and judgment can be tricky if something, or somebody, turns out to be jolly nice but no bloody good.