Friday, March 5, 1999

Ending Up

by Kingsley Amis

Five elderly people – a brigadier sent down for homosexuality; his one-time lover and now drunken quasi-servant; his ugly sister who has never been loved; her insincere friend who is approaching senility; and a paralyzed professor emeritus, once the brigadier’s brother-in-law – live in boredom and decrepitude, detesting one another, in a crumbling cottage. Humor doesn’t come any darker than this slim volume that drips with venom. Bernard, the brigadier, told he is dying, decides to liven up his last months with petty acts of disruption, but his efforts are largely ineffectual. Marigold, afraid of her oncoming senility, stays in the cottage taking his abuse because only these four people can remember her husband for her.  The book drew me in effortlessly; it’s readable and meticulously constructed.  I remain disturbed by the simply harrowing ending. Especially for George, the long-suffering, patient, jolly professor who keeps writing even though no one is interested.  A dreadful end for him.

three stars

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