More than a decade ago, when I was a bored postgraduate student, I became obsessed with the work of Kingsley Amis. I had read Lucky Jim before, and thought it not as funny as it should have been; but now I reread it and found it wonderful. So I started working my way through Amis’s other novels. Very few of them were in print: even a decent Waterstones usually had only Lucky Jim and The Old Devils. Online shopping was in its infancy, so I relied on second-hand bookshops to get the others. Even a visit to the most obscure market town carried a frisson of excitement: would that battered little bookstall hold a dog-eared copy, of, say, The Riverside Villas Murder? Would this be the day I finally tracked down Amis’s James Bond novel, Colonel Sun?
What all this reflected, of course, was the fact that shares in Amis were at a discount. He had died only a few years earlier, and his literary reputation seemed to be entering an inevitable eclipse. ‘He’s nowhere near as good as his son,’ said a friend of