I Like It Here, by Kingsley Amis, is the story of Garnet Bowen, a man forced to travel with his wife who wants a family holiday — with the additional incentive of two paid writing gigs. This might sound like a dream, but not for Bowen. He’s a miserable & reluctant man who can’t seem to find fun or hope in anything. Not in his married life; not in his career. Not even in the wry writer kind of way either.
He’s not a good guy. He’s not an insecure & inept guy you can root for. He’s a poor father, an idiot husband, and there’s not a lot of info to support any claims that he’s a good writer (that’s Bowen, not Amis, the author of the book — unless this is autobiographical?) He’s not a bad guy you can love to hate. He’s not even just a guy — an every man. He’s a whiny boy whose voice I hear in my ear like a petulant teenager, “But maaaaa!”
And I don’t think that some sort of British thing I couldn’t understand.
Nor is he the typical midlife crisis guy (like John Gosselin – another inept unlikeable man), because Bowen also doesn’t want to change. Boo-hoo! So what’s that leave? A whiny “Poor me, I’m a put-out male” story which has me hoping his wife will divorce him, take the kids, and get on with her own life.
So why did I grab this retro paperback bore?
I Like It Here (Kingsley Amis © 1958, Ballantine Books, First Printing, August, 1971) promised, “A rollicking trip with a not-so-innocent abroad” and features an intimate embrace on both the front & back covers — but if I was looking for smut (and I’m admitting nothing) I would be disappointed.
What little sexy stuff there is, is just a few paragraphs more than the salacious tease of an international kiss not bound by the same language barriers as speech. — but it is as awkward as trying to communicate in a language you don’t know.
This is not the sort of sexual tension most of us look for in our reading — or anywhere.
OK, so it’s not the smut-fest the publishers made it out to be. That’s not unusual — for books marketed then or today. “Sex sells.” But I kinda wish I had my dollar back. And I’m not exactly looking forward to the stack of other Kingsley Amis books I also snapped up that day.