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February 13 Book Reviews
Book of the month:
The Odd Couple: The curious friendship between Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin
Richard Bradford, The Robson Press, £20
Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin first met as students at Oxford and both would go on to become two of the most critically and commercially lauded authors in post-war British history, significantly within a loose collective called The Movement which sought to subvert and resist the features of modernism. Ostensibly two very different people - Amis was a flamboyant raconteur and womaniser, while Larkin was more introverted (although still adept at juggling girlfriends) – they, nevertheless, had a peculiar bond and would go on to influence each other’s output leading to works such as ‘Lucky Jim’ (Amis) and ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ (Larkin). The author deftly weaves their relationship together (a significant amount of correspondence between the pair still exists, which helps) and is excellent at showing how their lives informed their work. Literary biographies usually see me spinning away from them to re-read the output of the subject(s), but this one had me seeking out more work from Bradford, such was the quality of his analysis.