Read The Green Man by Kingsley Amis Online


A ghost story for adults. Like all good coaching inns, the Green Man is said to boast a resident ghost: Dr Thomas Underhill, a notorious seventeenth-century practitioner of black arts and sexual deviancy, rumoured to have killed his wife. However, the landlord, Maurice Allington, is the sole witness to the renaissance of the malevolent Underhill. Led by an anxious desire tA ghost story for adults. Like all good coaching inns, the Green Man is said to boast a resident ghost: Dr Thomas Underhill, a notorious seventeenth-century practitioner of black arts and sexual deviancy, rumoured to have killed his wife. However, the landlord, Maurice Allington, is the sole witness to the renaissance of the malevolent Underhill. Led by an anxious desire to vindicate his sanity, Allington strives to uncover the key to Underhill's satanic powers. All the while, the skeletons in the cupboard of Allington's own domestic affairs rattle to get out too....

Title : The Green Man
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780099461074
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Green Man Reviews

  • Glenn Russell
    2019-02-16 21:13

    “I have no novelists, finding theirs a puny and piffling art, one that, even at its best, can render truthfully no more than a few minor parts of the total world it pretends to take as its field of reference.” So declares Mr. Maurice Allington while scanning the books of his personal library in the study of his rustic country inn, The Green Man. And what manner of narrator did Kingsley Amis create to tell his novel’s story? Maurice is a fifty-three-year-old self-centered boozehound, an accomplished womanizer living with his second wife, thirteen-year-old daughter and eighty-year-old father; Maurice also happens to be charming, articulate, Cambridge educated and in possession of both keen intellect and vivid imagination. Does this sound a lot like Kingsley Amis himself? The British author would undoubtedly answer “yes” since he stated directly he could relate to Maurice Allington more than any of his other characters. Above all else, Maurice has one compelling, suspenseful story to tell – I can assure you by the end of the first chapter you will want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. As not to spoil the book’s many surprises, I will go light on plot and focus on a number of themes:SEDUCTION AND SEX What is a Kingsley Amis novel without a bit of the old slap and tickle? Actually, Maurice doesn’t go in for anything too kinky but he does suggest to Diana, his gorgeous blonde new lover, that she consider a ménage à trois, that is, going to bed with both himself and his wife. For Maurice, the art of seduction is a very fine art indeed (during one fling with Diana he compares his techniques of arousing a woman to a virtuoso playing a concerto), however he acknowledges he is beyond his stud prime, not to mention the fact he must also deal with a batch of distractions, both natural and supernatural. All told, similar to other dimensions of the novel, Maurice’s sex life is laced with large helpings of vintage Kingsley Amis comedy, mostly of the parody and satire variety.GHOST STORYThe Green Man is most certainly a ghost story and literary critic Michael Dirda outlines in his helpful Introduction to this New York Review Books (NYRB ) edition precisely how the author masterfully incorporates traditional ingredients of atmosphere and crescendo to create his chilling tale. Since this is the 1960s modern world, Maurice’s encounter with ghosts raises the skeptical eyebrows of his family and friends as well as the local parson who judges the supernatural as so much humbug. But Maurice knows what he has seen with his own eyes and grits his teeth when everyone immediately provides psychological explanations of how his visions are the consequence of his own mental states brought about by stress, fatigue and drinking. Ah, the modern world, where science and psychology are king.MYTHOLOGY OF THE GREEN MANThe Green Man has been part of many world cultures going back to time immemorial, most usually connected with the forces of the natural world in its vegetable forms – trees, plants, leaves, vines, fruits – and is one of the prime symbols of regeneration and rebirth occurring in spring. Accordingly, many of the sculptures of the Green Man depict the nurturing, helpful, positive qualities he symbolizes. Much different than what we encounter in this Kingsley Amis, where the Green Man is the horrifying, destructive agent of diabolical forces. I wouldn’t want to push the point too far, but we might well consider how on another level the Green Man could also represent the alcohol consumption Maurice must do battle to overcome.THE BIG GUY PAYS A VISIT With the entrée of a trim, well-groomed young man in his late twenties via the inclusion of an eerie parallel space/time reality, we have a shift from ghost story to tale of the fantastic. Sitting at ease in an armchair in Maurice’s study, the young visitor informs his host that he is not a representative of God, rather, he is God. As he breezily explains the reasons for his taking corporeal form and outlines the scope of his powers, we are given a clearer picture this gentleman isn’t so much the all-powerful, all-knowing God of the Bible as the less-powerful, less-knowing Demiurge of Plato’s Timaeus. Our young man explains a few things to Maurice, one of which is how the universe is best seen as a play, a work of art in progress. In many ways, this brings to mind the Hindu concept of lila, the creative play of the divine. Also, between sips of scotch, he goes on to suggest how all forms of life will not survive eternally. All things, no matter how soul-filled or divine, dissolve and come to an end? With these words we see an affinity with the Buddhist concept of emptiness. A number of other subjects are addressed - certainly one of the most intriguing sections of the novel. PHILOSOPHICAL INQUIRYMaurice is obsessed by the inevitability of death. Maurice’s prime philosophical question: Do we survive in some way, spiritual or otherwise, beyond the grave? I suspect this was also among the foremost of Kingsley Amis’s conundrums about our earthly existence. What better way for a literary novelist to dig deeper into the puzzle of life and death than introducing elements usually confined to various genres such as ghost stories, fantastic stories and science fiction? In this way, I found The Green Man to be a deeply probing expansion of how a literary novel can address fundamental metaphysical questions. And let’s not forget Kingsley Amis was a big fan of genre writing such as mystery and science fiction. THE HERO’S JOURNEYMaurice has serious issues in his dealing with the other people in his life, his wife Joyce and his daughter Amy, just to name two. Turns out, toward the end of the novel, Maurice faces life-and-death challenges and unflinchingly take on the role of a hero. Such is the power of love. In this way, his relationship with Amy opens up and we have hints his own life will be transformed. To discover the details, you will have to read for yourself. Highly, highly recommended. “I thought to myself how much more welcome a faculty the imagination would be if we could tell when it was at work and when not.” ― Kingsley Amis, The Green Man

  • Jim Fonseca
    2019-02-18 15:05

    The range of good writing by Kingsley Amis (father of the living author, Martin) is amazing. He wrote poetry, short stories and novels that have been classified as travel, humor, alternate history, dystopian, science fiction and spy. His Lucky Jim is one of the funniest novels I have read.The Green Man is horror, his Stephen King. The main character runs an historic British wayside inn, The Green Man. He lives there with his second wife and pre-teen age daughter from his first marriage. His elderly father also lives with them. The first level of horror is his behavior. Very early in the story his father dies and in the week following that death, he initiates an affair with his best friend’s wife and then proposes and carries out a 3-way with that woman and his wife. He sees ghosts. He tears up the floorboards in the inn looking for a magic charm; he digs up a grave with his female friend at night. He travels to All Saints to do research on a mysterious former owner of the inn. He gets in a car accident. He’s a busy, obsessed guy.As the story progresses, we have stop-time sequences, a pact with the devil, shape changers, ghosts and a monster that may be after his daughter. And did I say the main character is an alcoholic? In fact, I’ll call this one of the “alcoholic novels,” like Under the Volcano by Malcom Lowry. Here are a couple of lines: “I felt rather strung up, and was on a bottle of scotch a day, but this had been standard for twenty years.”“…if I had not recently passed from being a notorious drunk to being a notorious drunk who had begun to see things…”Other passages I liked: “They were all talking … but quietened down and stared into their drinks when they saw me, out of respect for the bereaved, or the insane.”“At All Saints’ everybody seems to tend not to be there so much of the time.”“The librarian came to meet us with a demeanor that managed to tend to be haughty and deferential at the same time, like that of a West End shopwalker.” It’s a good story. There is humor in his daily activity, walking through the inn and chatting with staff and customers in his semi-stewed state. In contrast, his relationship with his wife, best male friend and son and daughter-in-law (visiting for the funeral) is tense due to his drinking and the ghost goings-on. graphics from

  • Vit Babenco
    2019-01-24 20:55

    The end of the sixties of the last century… What may that mean? It means the sexual revolution, an increased interest in occult subjects and mysticism and desire to change the state of mind with all sorts of psychotropic stuffs. Kingsley Amis was the one who decided to pack all those signs of new epistemological era in a single rather thin novel, staying on the funny side of things.“Anyway, Underhill, or rather his ghost, turned up quite a few times at a window in what’s now part of the dining-room, peering out and apparently watching something. All the witnesses seem to have been very struck by the expression on his face and his general demeanour, but, according to the story, there was a lot of disagreement about what he actually looked like. One chap said he thought Underhill was behaving as if he were terrified out of his wits. Someone else thought he was showing the detached curiosity of a man of science observing an experiment.”And if there are ghosts then there is evil. And if there is evil then it must be defeated…“Amy had retreated a little way, then stopped and turned, and between her and the pounding bulk of the creature stood Victor in a posture of defiance, his back arched and tail swollen. A kick from a wooden foot smashed into him, with a snapping of twigs or bones, and he went skidding, a lifeless bundle, across the road and into the ditch. Then Amy turned again and ran, ran in earnest, in long-legged strides, but even when she reached her best speed, she was not gaining on the green man. By now I was aware of what I still held in my hand, and saw what it was I must do, and pushed myself to my feet and ran in my turn down the road towards the graveyard.”In reality it is hard enough to stay alive even without the interference of the otherworldly beings though…

  • Tony
    2019-02-22 22:00

    There are two apparitions in this ghost story of a novel; one explained and one not. And there is the obligatory Amis political incorrectness; some intended and some not. I read this elder Amis because:a) I like to see who he's skewering;b) I want reassurance that, by comparison, I do not drink too much; andc) his dialogue never disappoints, like this snippet between our protagonist and the local rector:'You don't imagine it's a coincidence, do you, that this was the great age of masochism, chiefly in England but by no means confined to here?''No,' I said. 'An age of masochism couldn't be a coincidence.'Turns out God drinks Scotch, with a little water.

  • Karl
    2019-02-18 19:01

    The novel is set in and around an inn between London and Cambridge called "The Green Man", owned by Maurice Allington, a 53-year-old man. The inn and its name date back to the 14th century. The inn is haunted by its 17th-century owner, Thomas Underhill, a Cambridge scholar who dabbled in the occult. Underhill was associated with two unsolved murders, including that of his wife.Allington has some problems, one of which is a drinking problem that causes hallucinations. Allington tries to arrange an orgy with his current wife and his mistress which backfires when the two women take an enthusiastic interest in each other and shut him out of the orgy. Maurice begins to see ghosts around the inn.The Green Man is a very black comedy with an uncannily happy ending.

  • David Brian
    2019-02-21 16:05

    Maurice Allington is a fifty something, twice married, inn keeper/hotelier. For Maurice, life is a high speed, roller-coaster ride of juggling his various commitments - in this case 'commitment' equates to womanizing, drinking heavily, running his period inn The Green Man, and embellishing his establishment with tales of the resident ghost. On top of this he needs to find time to appease the boredom of his teenage daughter... oh, yes, and did I mention more whisky and women.In case I haven't made it clear, Maurice is a scoundrel of the highest order. He relishes being a cad, almost as much as he relishes bemoaning his lot. Oh, and I should have mentioned his hypochondria. Boy, it's tough being Maurice.Now, I appreciate that none of what I have written makes Maurice sound a likely (or likable) protagonist, but he is. Maurice's antics are about to open the door for a very dark presence, and as the tone of the book takes an unsettling turn, we are treated to a more contemporary ghost story. This is a book about the supernatural, but in a very 'old fashioned' sense. It is also (and I realize this seems a contradiction) an extremely funny book. There is as much sexual innuendo, slapstick and satire, as there are chills.An absolute joy of a book.

  • aPriL does feral sometimes
    2019-02-04 16:04

    I think this book is a perfect ghost story, with everything that is supposed to be there, there, per tradition. Maurice Allington owns The Green Man, an Inn which has been in existence for 190 years on the same site near Fareham, 40 miles from London. The Inn was fully restored in 1961, but the best part of staying at the Inn is it has a genuine history of ghosts. He bought it because of the stories he was told about the ghosts appearing to guests. He himself is not a believer - yet.I will let Maurice tell the tale:“I went into the routine, first piously turning down a drink. “”The main one was somebody called Dr. Thomas Underhill who lived here in the later seventeenth century. He was in holy orders, but he wasn’t the parson of the parish; he was a scholar who for some reason gave up his Cambridge fellowship and bought this place. He’s buried in that little churchyard just up the road, but he nearly didn’t get buried at all. He was so wicked that when he died the sexton wouldn't dig a grave for him, and the local rector refused to officiate at his funeral. They had to get a sexton from Royston, and a clergyman all the way from Peterhouse in Cambridge. Some of the people round about said that Underhill had killed his wife, whom he used to quarrel with a lot, apparently, and he was also supposed to have brought about the death of a farmer he’d had trouble with over some land deal.”” “”Well, the odd thing is that both these people were murdered all right, half torn to pieces, in fact, in the most brutal way, but in both cases the bodies were found in the open, at almost the same spot on the road to the village, although the murders were six years apart, and on both occasions it was established beyond doubt that Underhill was indoors here at the time. The obvious guess is that he hired chaps to do the job for him, but they were never caught, nobody even saw them, and the force used on the victims, they say, was disproportionate for an ordinary commercial killing.””“”Anyway, Underhill, or rather his ghost, turned up quite a few times at a window in what’s now part of the dining-room, peering out and apparently watching something. All the witnesses seem to have been very struck by the expression on his face and his general demeanor, but according to the story, there was a lot of disagreement about what he actually looked like. One chap said he thought Underhilll was behaving as if he were terrified out of his wits. Someone else thought the was showing the detached curiosity of a man of science observing an experiment….””While his guests are happy with the ghost stories, the Inn, the tankards of ale, wine and hard liquor available on the menu, along with the food, which recently has been recommended by a columnist for a newspaper, Maurice is not. Maurice is an alcoholic, and his life feels so painful he has no wish to stop drinking even as he despises himself for it. Despite the efforts and love of his family and friends, Maurice has built walls of disassociation around himself. He is haunted with memories about his first wife’s death and a severe hypochondria, along with an obsession with sex. But the worst of his nightmares is his fear of death. All of which serves to avoid dealing with the man called Maurice. He is frozen, unable to go forward, weighted down by the past. He is not a stupid man, in fact he is well educated. He enlisted the help of two different therapists, and the local doctor frequently comes to visit him. But nothing seems to chase away the ghosts of his past which haunt Maurice’s days and nights. Nothing prevents his self-hatred and disgust with who he is. All he is capable of is dulling the pain with drink, and going through the expected daily motions required of him.Then, one day, Maurice sees a strange woman at the top of the stairs which go to the private part of the Inn where he lives with his father, daughter and his second wife. She is dressed in the manner of women from a previous century. He looks away for a second, and she is gone. Oh, oh.As you may suspect, the ghosts are real. That is all I want to say.The link below goes to a Wikipedia description about the Green Man legends, but it is a very brief outline. Nonetheless, I think it is safe to say the Green Man does not help the people who dare to think he can be called up from wherever he lurks to do their bidding without demanding a horrific payment. He is someone Heaven would not want or love.

  • Wanda
    2019-02-04 22:13

    Maurice Allington is not the kind of guy you want to get mixed up with—he may be the well-known proprietor of the inn The Green Man, but he drinks far too much, ignores his wife and daughter, and spends his free time propositioning his friend’s wife. When he starts seeing things around the inn, we have to wonder if his drinking has finally addled his wits, for Maurice certainly doesn’t believe in the ghosts that he advertises to lure guests.I remember a TV show based on this book, which I skipped based on how much the ads for it disturbed my peace of mind. Maybe I should have watched, because the book didn’t bother me a bit! I found Maurice to be completely unreliable as a narrator of his own experience—too alcohol impaired to be trusted—and since no one else shares in his visions/delusions, I was able to control my imaginative faculties and remain calm. As Maurice reflects a one point, “I thought to myself how much more welcome a faculty the imagination would be if we could tell when it was at work and when not.” But mine doesn’t work that way—it is often overactive when I would like it to mind its own business.A good ghost story for people who normally don’t care for them.

  • Edward Waverley
    2019-02-02 21:57

    This is the fifth book I’ve read by Kingsley Amis, and with each new foray I am increasingly convinced that I shall have to read them all. I love Amis’ personality so much that it does not seem to matter at all what he’s on about, so long as he’s on. Say anything you want about Amis’ private life, or his politics, but you cannot deny the unbridled hilarity of his comic portraits, nor the arsenal of his wit. His is the voice of the brilliant man stuck at a boring party, or under the supervision of a dreary boss. Often the hero is unable to express himself to his companions with any honesty due to social constraints. Instead, we read his minimal replies and are then made privy to what he’s really thinking. What one always looks forward to in Amis’ work is the moment in the story when the hero begins to dismantle whatever foolish thing is being said to him, mentally undressing the unwitting boobies around him. The effect is comparable to being conducted incognito through a meeting of the Toastmasters by a man has no love for the communicators but who is himself a verbal genius.Of the five I’ve now read, including three novels, one book of literary criticism, and the excellent (recently reissued) volume on drinking alcohol, Everyday Drinking, Lucky Jim is my favorite. In this I concur with the majority. LJ was his first novel, and The Green Man was his ninth; a lot has happened in Amis’ style in the interim. But it actually doesn’t seem to matter what the topic, his books are always joyous and this is no exception. The settings of his novels range from university campuses to the English countryside, and from the Soviet Union to outer space, but he is a comedian everywhere he takes us, because every book is conducted under the auspices of that unmistakable voice, that of the funny man trapped in a drab situation.The Green Man is Amis’ stab at a gothic tale, and he carries it off with the usual comic warmth. However, he is not making fun of ghost stories. It’s obvious to me that he was dead serious in his inquiries about death.

  • Bert
    2019-02-15 19:04

    As all sensible writers ought to be, Amis here appears to be terrified of death, and he knew that the comic novel is the ideal form to broach the subject without being pretentious or morose. In The Green Man he unexpectedly throws in a good ghost story too. Which adds to the charm and puts a new twist on the whole sardonic British realism thing that Kingsley is best known for. It's an interesting move, because he moves from genuine everyday Godless terror and self-disgust to schlock horror, though in this case the supernatural element actually provides the light relief and offers Allington (who is shockingly a heavy drinker, womaniser, and probably has a wavy fringe..) the chance at redemption. So, all in all a treat if you like that kind of thing, full of sharp writing and questions about life, death and ghosts. Apparently when once asked if he was an atheist, Kingsley replied "It's more that I hate him." Just so you know what to expect.

  • Sarah N. Dipity
    2019-02-17 22:16

    For whatever reason, Kingsley Amis and I seem to genuinely click. At least I think so based upon the level of enjoyment I got from this unusual little book. There is a genuine quality to his literary voice, which when combined with his certain sense of humour, very much reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut (who I love). I am a sucker for ghost stories, but this is a ghost story with many differences. The feel is entirely unique, as is the imagery. I can't wait to get my hands on more from this fantastic author.

  • Shovelmonkey1
    2019-02-08 23:18

    Two men seperated by the thin but impermeable barrier known as time:- Hello, who are you?- I'm Kingley Amis, who are you?- I'm Peter. I'm a writer.- Really? Me too.- Wow, what a coincidence. - Yes, isn't life funny like that sometime? Fate must have brought us together for some reason.- Perhaps. Sometimes events in the past and present align to make events and stories overlap. This means that sometimes people in the present witness echoes from the past, kind of like ghosts. Sometimes the echo can go both ways and people from the past receive ripples of activity from the future.- So what do you like to write about?- Well, it's kind of horror but set so close to reality that it is believable in a way.- Really... me too.- I use my fantastic knowledge of history to link the past and present.- How strange. I wrote a book like that you know. It was called The Green Man. A semi-alcoholic, over-educated, underachieving womaniser owns a pub haunted by the spirit of a 17th century scholar called Dr Underhill who summons dark folk-lore spirits and uses them to his own paedophilic ends.- Really? A doctor in an old house who summons dark spirits and can control mythical creatures? I am sensing one of those overlaps.

  • Bandit
    2019-02-18 20:09

    Published by a classics edition and read very much like a classic. And no matter how much I try, classic horror just doesn't do it for me. Mind you, this is more of a contemporary classic, meaning unlike prudish M.R. James or long winded Algernon Blackwood, this actually has sex (quite a lot of it) and dialogue and some action, but it's still just so...unengaging, slow and stodgy. Maurice, the main protagonist, isn't an overwhelmingly likeable fellow. He neglects his teenage daughter and his second wife, he actively defies at least two commandments (the ones about coveting and adultery)...he's actually so busy trying to get laid and assuage his phobic restless nature, that the ghost business in his inn initially mainly just gets in a way. Until it becomes real and Maurice starts to do something about it. Kingsley Amis isn't known for his horror works, he's mainly a comedic author who has dabbled in other genres. So this is a dabble and it comes across as one, it's sort of like a very british comedy with sex and ghosts. Ok, I just made it sound charming and it actually isn't without charm, it just that there isn't enough of it to really draw the reader in. Or at least this reader. Because it isn't all that funny or all that sexy or all that scary. It had some lovely writing, some exemplary british wit, some very nice very clever passages...but it just wasn't entertaining enough and it was trying to be too many things without really landing on a tone. Having that been said, I do believe this is very much an acquired taste sort of thing and it's sure to have and find many fans. I just expected more.

  • Randolph Carter
    2019-02-08 21:50

    Okay novel that loses something by being a bit dated and having a ghost story that lacks much suspense. The fact that we never really like the main character doesn't help. I'm not sure if the things about threesomes, lesbianism, and adultery were still considered edgy in 1969, but they lack any excitement today except to the most prudish.The entire thing just seemed somewhat tepid to me.

  • Sandy
    2019-02-10 19:08

    Kingsley Amis' sole horror novel, "The Green Man," had long been on my list of "must read" books, for the simple reason that it has been highly recommended by three sources that I trust. British critic David Pringle chose it for inclusion in his overview volume "Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels," as did Michael Moorcock in "Fantasy: The 100 Best Books" AND Brian Aldiss in "Horror: 100 Best Books." As it turns out, all of this praise is not misplaced, and Amis' 1969 novel of modern-day satire and the supernatural is as entertaining as can be. The tale concerns a middle-aged man named Maurice Allington, who owns an inn called The Green Man in rural Hertfordshire, not far from Cambridge. Allington, when we meet him, is being kept busy running his inn, struggling through a floundering second marriage, dealing with his sullen 13-year-old daughter, drinking incredible amounts of scotch every day, and attempting to talk his new mistress into a three-way with him and his wife. As if he doesn't have enough on his plate, the ghost of diabolical necromancer Dr. Thomas Underhill --who used to live in the inn some 300 years before--has been contacting him of late, and the legendary Green Man himself (a sort of lumbering tree monster) has begun to make appearances, too. Those closest to poor Maurice suspect that his stories of ghosts and tiny birds that fly through his hand are a result of the DT's (it really is remarkable how much liquor Maurice drinks in a day), but the reader somehow never doubts that what Maurice sees is objective reality....Mixing social satire, amusing incidents and some good eerie scenes, "The Green Man" does keep the reader enthralled. Amis, no stranger to the bottle himself, from what I've read, seems to really identify with Allington, and uses him as his mouthpiece to expound eruditely on topics such as food (a hateful, bothersome nuisance), death (he wonders how one cannot be totally obsessed with the idea), sex (he thinks that women's "emotional secretiveness" is due to the fact that they do not ejaculate) and religion (Maurice's views of the afterlife are radically turned about by what he goes through in this tale). In one startling section of the book, Maurice meets a nice young man in a dark suit who stops Time and who, it is inferred, is none other than God himself, and another fascinating conversation ensues. "The Green Man" is not an especially frightening book, although some parts (the reading of Underhill's diary; the midnight disinterment of Underhill's grave; Maurice's "nighttime" vision in broad daylight) are indeed genuinely creepy. This is an extremely literate, extremely British ghost story that functions as both satire and thriller. In another section of the book, Maurice tells us that he thinks all novelists engage in a "puny and piffling art," and that fiction is pitifully inadequate to the task it sets itself. But perhaps narrator Maurice should read back the book he has just delivered to us; it is neither puny nor piffling, and succeeds on many levels indeed.

  • Sian Lile-Pastore
    2019-01-29 14:58

    This book is mental. It's a ghost story but not in the slightest bit scary. It's also a kind of weird folklorish and boozy story with extramarital affairs. It reminded me of wicker man in a way... It's not really my kind of book, but there was something so odd about it that I was intrigued... lots of nice writing and a lot of whisky.we are reading this for reading group- so shall report bacck.Reading group gave it a 2.5 out of five on average.....

  • Jaksen
    2019-02-24 22:11

    What a macabre novel, a horror story unlike I've ever read.I first heard about this novel from PD James' semi-autobiography/memoir, 'Time To Be In Earnest,' which I recently read. She mentions 'The Green Man' as an excellent horror story, so I looked it up, found ONE copy only in my entire library system and borrowed it. Here goes...It's the story of Maurice Allington, a known 'womanizer,' yet married with daughter, son, wife (second wife) and owner of an inn and restaurant in rural England. Maurice leads a fairly ordinary life, yet is interested in sex and having a threesome with his wife and the wife of a friend. His usual day sees him buying food for his restaurant, dealing with his employees and customers, and dallying about with said wife's friend. Maurice sees himself as sort of a carefree Hugh Hefner type. He's happy; he's not happy. He drinks too much; he has a lot of aches and pains, and then he sees a ghost...And then another ghost. This is where things start to ramp up considerably, with the drinking, and the threesome, and dealing with a teenage daughter (this is 1964) who's hard to reach. It culminates in full weirdness with barely a horror-haunted house trope about. Quite a different story altogether.I'd never read anything by Kingsley Amis and I now know that this book was out of the ordinary for him. He was known as a cynical, yet amusing write, with a unique take on the world and people around him. This is supposedly his only book of this kind. (He also wrote a sci-fi, though his usual genre was sarcasm and humor.) Anyhow, I might try another of his novels...But this was genuinely different - D I F F E R E N T.Four stars.

  • Corto
    2019-02-09 15:19

    This was an amusing middle-aged man's lament on growing older, wrapped inside of a ghost story. (Or is it the other way around?) It was an interesting academic and philosophical exploration of mortality and life after death until a little more than halfway through the book. At that point, the ghost story picks up steam- and, though still philosophical- becomes more of a "physical" conflict with supernatural occult and pagan forces. Once I was beyond the halfway mark, I couldn't put it down. Amis can definitely turn a phrase, writes great characters and was funny enough that I unexpectedly laughed out loud at least once. In this genre, Amis is much more subtle than Stephen King or Peter Straub, but equally as enjoyable. He doesn't knock you over the head with the supernatural elements like the aforementioned authors. This ghost story feels "real". Highly recommended if you're in the mood for a spooky late night read that won't keep you awake in terror.

  • Michael
    2019-02-23 21:59

    At times a ghost story, at others a sex farce, and at yet others an occult mystery. Overall enjoyable, as long as you can resolve the fact that the protagonist is an arrogant alcoholic jerk. I also laughed out loud a few times, especially when the main character derided novelists; you know the character isn't a front for the author when that happens!

  • MT
    2019-02-12 19:15

    I'm a big fan of that style of particular British writing where the authors are hellbent on proper grammar and word usage. It's like a completely different language than the one I muddle about in. Martin Amis wrote in his memoir about heading up to his old man's house every Sunday and have the old bastard reading Martin's newspaper articles and telling how how he used the inferior, vulgar and utterly punishable newspaper meaning of a word, which has slowly taken over to become the word's only meaning (for further elaboration on this, try Martin's Experience: A Memoir or Kingsley's The King's English: A Guide to Modern Usage, where he sits with a dictionary and a drink and tells you in all sorts of ways how your writing wouldn't get you far as a 50's man of letters). I like it, only because I think I'd definitely be that ponderous oaf telling somebody at a party how much their words suck. Also, reading Amis is a good way to tell if you've been hitting the sauce too much. If you find yourself keeping pace with any of his fictional characters (over the age of 15), you'd better dry yourself out, and fast. I read the Green Man while heavily boozing in Berlin, and let me tell you, going drink for drink with the protagonist was a wake up call. Amis gives you an up and down horror/suspense story, set in a pub, obviously, as plotlines in Amis' stories tend not to happen more then ten paces from a drink. As it is an Amis plotline, the main storyline is bulked out by the heavy drinking of the protagonist, and his fumbling engineering of a three-way with his wife and her best friend. So something for everyone. Makes you kinda sad he never wrote episodes of Scooby Doo. Freddy would be a no-nonsense philander, Daphne would run off with Velma to start a B&B in Wales, and after Shaggy gets drunk and kills Scooby with the Mystery Machine, he runs off with the middle-aged art director who was haunting the newly renovated bar/bistro down by the racetrack.

  • Phillip Ramm
    2019-02-24 22:00

    I know the feeling. Kingsley seems to be trying to resolve some (health) threat that has triggered fears of his impending death (26 years later) here. He has done this before, but within a ghost story, that is a different path altogether for Amis, and he pulls it off moderately well I must admit. A Stephen King best-seller it is not, and thank God Almighty for that. Now dying is one thing, it must come to us all (and why we are not paralysed by this prospect is a mystery to Amis's character here) but the persistence of evil into the afterlife is another! All this washed down with a modest triple scotch and water. There are many examples of the typical Amis-like crackling dry delivery, often at the most unexpected of times thereby guaranteeing a shock, in the mouth of the sex-obsessed, death-obsessed and misanthropic narrator, hotel manager Maurice Allington: a drunker but much more competent Basil Fawlty role. Amis often makes me burst out loud laughing with that wonderfully cynical line, carefully thought-out and poetically knife-pointed to a unimpeachable truth, in this book as much as any of the others I have read. (My favorite quotation of all time is this, from Lucky Jim; "If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.") Allington has to deal with a frisky mistress, a taken-for-granted (but still loved) newish wife, a dying to dead father, a drinking problem, hypochondria (that pain in the lower back is kidney cancer, perhaps, now that the brain cancer has cleared up), an mostly uncommunicative 13yo daughter, lost manuscripts, midnight grave robbing, an atheist parson, a shy cat, and all sorts of disconcerting spectral visitors in the woods nearby and in the hotel at night, at least one of whom has a rather nasty history... He's trying what he thinks is his best in all aspects of life, but his unacknowledged selfishness doesn't help, and that fact he can't tell anyone about his search for the secret behind these ghosts as they'll only think it's the DT's. But his TV watching daughter seems not to disbelieve him... Loved it.

  • Peter Dunn
    2019-01-31 18:19

    OK it’s a Kingsley Amis book so let’s see if the usual character check list applies:• Central character drinks a bit too much – in this case a lot too much• Central character is somewhat of a philanderer• Central character is a self centered curmudgeon – OK certainly self centered this time• Central character is at least a bit of an autobiographical version of the authorYes ineed all those boxes are ticked, but what genre is Amis going to experiment with this time? As he does like experimenting with genres does our Kingsley. Ah we see it’s a ghost story this time.OK so we have a drunk in a ghost story so we of course we soon hit the expected storyline that asks the reader if the protagonist is simply drunk or is he really, actually, seeing ghosts? Then just over three quarters of the way in something odd happens and we have to worry, not that the protagonist is drunk, but that the authour might be. Before we get to that point we meander along diverting through a bit of clumsy grave robbing and a sub plot about our drunken guide trying to engineer a threesome with his current wife and current mistress, so it does teeter on the point of being another familiar Amis study of a flawed man almost acting out a farce. Then suddenly the book goes close to insane following a very particular supernatural encounter. However it’s a mostly good sort of Amis insane. To say what happens next would be a major spoiler, and it may not be possible to describe it without sounding even more mad than the book. If you do like Kingsley Amis’s other work then you will give him a bit of latitude here to have fun with a new genre, and you will probably like this book as much as the rest of his work. If however you have never read any Amis before this one then don’t start here, as you might be put off for life, and life, according to this story, goes on a long, long way beyond death.

  • globulon
    2019-02-09 17:14

    Parts of this reminded me of "Goodfellas". In goodfellas particularly right near the climax of the movie Henry is running around doing increasing amounts of coke and dealing with everything from cooking a nice dinner to getting a lucky hat to having sex with his mistress. Similarly here, with booze instead of coke, this man's world is falling apart and ghosts are appearing but just in the thick of it he will jump back to plotting about how to arrange a threesome with his wife and mistress.Lot's of things to enjoy here. Another reviewer mentioned how the people around him suspect his visions are the result of dt's but the lucidity of the voice never leaves you in any doubt as to the reality of what he's experiencing even amid the total chaos. I quite enjoyed the humor and the story. The voice of the narrator is also a real pleasure.

  • Claire Fuller
    2019-02-23 18:15

    Nope. Wordy and boring. The narrator is very dislikeable (womaniser, alcholic, hypochondriac) but that didn't put me off - the nasty people should be the most interesting. It was trying to be a ghost story and none of it was frightening at all. I've been trying to work out why and there were simply no surprises, no changes in pacing, no increase in atmosphere - the narrator ate his dinner and talked with a ghost and chased away a green man in the same style. Spooky rating - .5 (simply for the fact that there were a few ghosts)

  • Spencer
    2019-01-28 17:18

    Not what I expected. I love his dry sense of humor and delicious inappropriateness. The main character is equal parts cad and hero, a feat only Amis could accomplish. Don't usually go in for the supernatural stuff, but it was funny. Didn't end for me quite as light as it started. Lucky Jim is still my favorite of his, possibly in my top ten. If you've liked others from Amis and you're up for something a tad bit raunchy, this could be the ticket.

  • Meredith
    2019-02-04 21:12

    Lots of detail on alcoholism and infidelity of the swinging-sixties variety, and a not-so-subtle parallel in character between the historical villain and the anti-hero protagonist. Amis defined his family of characters very well within their close environment. I think it was intended to be comedic, but I found the language a bit high-handed to be funny, and there was rather too much device packed into a short book.

  • Sara
    2019-02-15 19:18

    Imagine sitting by the fire listening to M.R. James as played by a soused Oliver Reed telling you this creepy-as-all-hell ghost story that he keeps mixing up with the Wicker Man and that three way that didn't quite work out. It's just too weird not to like. And spoilers--if this guy was such an awful misogynist, why does his wife get the last word and the girl?

  • J.
    2019-01-30 17:16

    Lots of fun to be had with this one; a straight-out Gothic from the 80-proof pen of Mr Amis, who may himself have had too much fun here. More at Konichiwa Witches.

  • Joseph Delaney
    2019-02-13 21:59

    This was great. It has a supernatural element plus a hero with alcohol problems!

  • Shawn
    2019-02-13 21:50

    Weird and funny and thought-provoking. Also short, so a perfect choice for the "too busy to read" person (not speaking of myself).