…satire of the highest quality.
I don’t say that the drunk man is the real man, and the sober man merely a shell. But you find out something different about people when they’re drunk. Of course, you sometimes find that they’re not different at all—that you merely get more of the same, perhaps said rather more loudly and incoherently, but basically the same. Other people change.
No reposing on the past, or our own sense of Amis’s. Indeed that is the theme of the novel: that the past is never safely in place but keeps coming round again in the obsessive chatter of the continuum. Older people need each other because of it.
His most ambitious and one of his longest books, this is neither a sendup nor an exercise in some established genre. It sets forth, with full realistic detail, a large cast of characters at least six of whom are rendered in depth as well a on the surface.
The Old Devils is a rollicking satire, where rambunctious gossips and perpetual drunks cling to each other in mutual decay. Its rather excessive length mirrors the protagonists, who belligerently refuse to die.— Lily Power