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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Like all good coaching inns, The Green Man is said to boast a resident ghost: Dr Thomas Underhill, a notorious 17th-century practitioner of black arts and sexual deviancy. 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 while the skeletons in Allington's own cupboard rattle to get out.

©1969 Kingsley Amis (P)2020 Penguin Audio

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The Beige Bore

Fruity excursion into genre fiction with this 1969 ghost story from that mayfly doyen of the British post-war literary scene, Kingsley Amis. Centred around a lecherous reprobate angling for a threesome in the wake of his father's death, 'The Green Man' features the ghost of a 17th century occultist, a Jack-In-The-Green-style homunculus and even an encounter with God. It all sounded so promising yet I found this book a flavourless chore. Rightly or wrongly, I've always pegged Amis père as typical of a certain strain of 20th century British fiction: smug, parochial and self-absorbed, and this is all of those things, but it's also just a bit dull. Amis writes some great lines and there are plenty of funny, caustic observations, but it's complacent and self-satisfied; the ghostly elements are neither scary nor metaphorically profound; the character study one of someone in whom I'm just not that interested. Maybe it's me; 'The Green Man' has gathered some glowing reviews over the years, but I struggled to finish it. I nearly bailed at the halfway mark and I'm indifferent to having stayed till the end.
Still, Joe Dixon's narration is excellent. His delivery is pitched somewhere between the bluff patriarchs of 1970s British TV drama and a gruff, contemporary edge. It kept me listening longer than the material really merited.