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In Success Amis pens a mismatched pair of foster brothers--one "a quivering condom of neurosis and ineptitude," the other a "bundle of contempt, vanity and stock-response"--in a single London flat. He binds them with ties of class hatred, sexual rivalry, and disappointed love, and throws in a disloyal girlfriend and a spectacularly unstable sister to create a modern-day Jacobean revenge comedy that soars with malicious poetry.
fairly diligent), goes on about mental instability and collapse much too much, and is nearly as young as I am. Lloyd-Jackson, the urbane, pooh-poohing ex-copywriter, says he wouldn’t be in the least surprised if it were to be he. He is senior to the rest of us (deputy-Controller, in fact), but claims that a Unionized department would be unable to accommodate his urbane, pooh-poohing ways. I’m reasonably keen on it being Lloyd-Jackson, because I feel some affection for him and he is the only
solid bottom to my life beneath which I will never be allowed to fall. And so for the time being I no longer wonder who will protect me when I am poor and bald and mad. ‘Here, I’ll tell you what you want to do,’ said Mr Stanley Veale, the Union Regional Secretary, in his immensely calm and sinister voice. ‘What do I want to do?’ I asked. Veale looked cursorily at Mr Godfrey Bray, the Union Regional Under-Secretary, and continued, ‘You want to become Clerk of the Chapel here.’ ‘Why do I want
slipping from her frocked lap to the foot of the velvet sofa as she half-rises, seemingly petrified with delight when the golden Gregory (just back from school, his poor suitcases abulge with trophies, rosettes, panegyrics) bursts away from the harassed housemaids and fussing footmen to throw open the drawing-room doors: my princess dashes down the length of the room — some fifty-five feet — and I catch the sinewy bullet of adoration in my arms, warm lips, warm tears, my heart everywhere at once.
clicked and suddenly I knew again what I had to do. I let the secret out. ‘Do it,’ I said. ‘Mm?’ ‘I said do it,’ I said. ‘Oh.’ At once her thin hand appeared on my chest. Briskly it trailed downwards. With an unthinking grunt she propped up her head on an elbow and slid a few inches down the bed to improve her purchase. I heard her yawn complaisantly, and parted my trembling lids to see the angled, downward-pointing face, the mouth set in featureless concentration. And she likes me. At first
her, that you cannot ‘take people on’ any longer while still trying to function successfully in your own life, that she was on her own now, the same as me, the same as Greg, the same as everybody else. I never said I wouldn’t stick by her. I never said I wouldn’t give her help if she needed it. Gregory, however, has decided to blame himself. Patently, and rather hurtfully also, his rift with her that night was more decisive than mine ever could have been. The first few days were rough — the