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One Fat Englishman

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  634 ratings  ·  57 reviews
The hero of One Fat Englishman, a literary publisher and lapsed Catholic escaped from the pages of Graham Greene to the campus of Budweiser College in provincial Pennsylvania, is philandering, drunken, bigoted, and very very fat, not to mention in a state of continuous spluttering rage against everything, not least his own overgrown self. In America, Roger Micheldene must ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by NYRB Classics (first published 1960)
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Average rating 3.29  · 
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Glenn Russell
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books


Many are the artist's rendering of Roger Micheldene, one of the most despicable characters in all of literature. By my eye, the above illustration captures the odious, lecherous louse in all his inglorious glory. Dastardly, dreadful, disgraceful - upon reading Kingsley Amis's novel, you will surely grow to love hating this bulbous Brit in his role as publisher on a business trip to America, visiting a land and people he simply can’t stomach.

To highlight just how despicable, we are given
...more
Tony
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Kingsley Amis is the kind of writer who can give misogyny a bad name.

Roger Micheldene, the One Fat Englishman of the title, is gluttonous, alcoholic and adulterous, but mostly just hateful and insufferably British. I winced a lot.

What I did like though was how One Fat Englishman got its title.

See, when he wrote this, Kingsley Amis was, or would become, all those things that Roger Micheldene was: gluttonous, alcoholic, adulterous, hateful and insufferably British. He famously cheated on his
...more
Manny
This book offers a quite remarkably negative self-portrait. The most obvious explanation is that Amis was disgusted with himself for leaving his first wife in such a callous manner, but few people would have gone this far.

There's an interesting question of chronology here, which I remember discussing with Jordan and Beth Ann. Maybe someone who knows more about Amis can tell us in precisely which order the following events happened?

- Amis starts writing this novel.

- Amis decides on the title
...more
Lobstergirl
Jul 04, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anna Davlantes
Shelves: fiction
I'm so glad people aren't writing books like this today. (They aren't, are they?) This is a truly unpleasant satire, hip-deep in unfunny snark. Roger Micheldene is a fat, lecherous, child-hating, asshole Brit, a publisher on sojourn in the U.S. Despite his fat lecherous assholery, women seem to be perfectly willing to sleep with him (mysteriously, even attractive, happily married women), although no one really likes him, partly because he's British, partly because he's an asshole. (No one in ...more
Ted
Read this so long ago I remember nothing. Hence no rating. Actually it's even possible I never read it, but just carried it around for a few decades; who knows? I'm discarding it. It's rating here on GR doesn't make it very appealing.

Neither does the cover art.
Mark Desrosiers
Jul 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Hilarious and fascinating: a youngish, and still-reputedly-socialist Kingsley Amis predicts his future as an obese bigoted alcoholic womanizer with astonishing accuracy. Kingsley rarely wastes his words, and his ability to put across comic situations is peerless (well, except for his son Martin). Here we get a darker, nastier version of his usual sexual shenanigans, with some attempted mockery of America thrown in for good measure (the novel is set in a fictional southern college called... ...more
Chuck LoPresti
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strung with the same gauge strings as Catcher in the Rye but played by a ham-fisted drunk there's no reason anyone should like this but I'm fairly confident almost everybody with an ear for humor will take delight. Now and again I read something so visceral that I'm ashamed to be holding a book instead of a bloody rag, drink or bundle of clothing. Where Lucky Jim felt a bit constrained at times this work is an unrestrained whiskey-soaked rager in comparison. Amis writes well and he wastes ...more
Zan
Jun 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: satire
This is the first and so far only book by Kingsley Amis I have read, and judging by some of its other reviews, it isn't his best-loved work. I enjoyed it though, and so this encourages me to read other books by him. I did not find it laugh-out-loud funny as some reviewers have, but it definitely had me smiling, sometimes broadly, on more than one occasion. As a satire of contemporary-to-publication British and American culture in the sauced up, swinging former half of the 1960's, however, I did ...more
Phil
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As well as being splutteringly, coffee-spittingly funny, Kingsley Amis is always uncomfortable to read. I used to think that this was because of the decidedly politically-incorrect, right-wing, Anglocentric and (alas) frequently racist attitudes which we know from history and biography he lent directly from his own to many of his fictional characters, grotesque as he may have made them. As I've come, however, with advancing age and disillusionment, to sympathise with many of his conservative ...more
Jim
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor, fiction
Roger Micheldene is, not to mince words, a truly horrible old man. And not only a world-class lecher, but also fat and morally ungainly. One even begins to suspect that the author of One Fat Englishman, Sir Kingsley Amis, is somewhat like this himself. Last month, I read his Girl, 20, which was also a revelation to me of hidden nastiness.

During his writing career, Amis metamorphosed from a liberal to a conservative to a hidebound Tory; and it is this latter which we see in his later novels. No
...more
Robert Rodi
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Kingsley Amis’s work; Lucky Jim is one of my favorite comic novels (not that I’m alone in that). And at times One Fat Englishman reads like a sequel to that earlier novel…one in which Lucky Jim has grown up gross and embittered and roiling with hate. So ultimately it’s a bit of a downer; the scabrous way Roger Micheldene talks about everyone he encounters would be very funny in smaller doses, but here it’s virtually unrelieved.

Roger is a literary publisher visiting an American university,
...more
Peter Dunn
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am really growing to love Kingsley Amis’s stuff and this is an amusing Amis romp centred on one of literature’s most unpleasant protagonists. As we are meant to laugh both at and with the antics of Roger Micheldene, and also to generally disdain him, we can then wince at his anti-Semitism, and his propensity to want to slap women, but still simply see those traits as just two further reasons to despise the character.

But then some angst creeps in because as the character is clearly meant to be
...more
N.P. Ryan
Riding home on a Toronto subway late one night after a lengthy visit to a favoured ale house, I suddenly realised a book had been left on the little shelf under the window next to me.

Picking it up and seeing the title, I might have accused anyone nearby of having a rye sense of humour, except the carriage was empty. It was like it had materialised specifically with me in mind - there was no way I couldn't read it.

Well written, but a horrible trope of the 60s/70s: writer tries to atone for past
...more
Bob
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kingsley Amis never disappoints - an amusing and not overly complex plot serves as a vehicle for his sociological observations. In this case, Roger Micheldene, an English academic in America in the early 1960s finds plenty to comment on. His self-loathing may only be exceeded by his loathing for everyone else.
While the ability of not-conventionally attractive men to have their share of conquests among conventionally beautiful women is hardly newsworthy, Micheldene's portrayal of the relative
...more
Gary
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this guilt-inducingly funny. A predictive self-portrait of the public persona of the later Kingsley Amis - fat, drunk, misogynist, selfish, greedy and wonderfully "child-unfriendly" published in 1961, when Amis was in his thirties. Roger, the central character is an English man of letters pursuing wine, women and food, in reverse order, in American academe. Amis is generous in showing Roger as a tethered bear, goaded and teased by the younger Americans he so despises. The scene in which ...more
McNatty
I do like reading Kingsley Amis but I don't think this story is particularly wonderful, except for the main character Roger. Amis is so eloquent as Roger that I have to admire this perspective on things. His sole objective as Roger is to get his way, get the best of all the other men and generally behave like a selfish snobbish twat. Fantastic. He roams around drinking and taking his snuff conversing with all the ladies who find him intriguing because he is so different to the American man. His ...more
Mauro
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
It's like an ungrateful payback to Henry James' Portrait of a Lady - a fat sloppy and snobbish Englishman goes to the US, gets tangled with an americanized ice queen and gets his heart broken.

More about the form than the contents: you can see Martin's genes in full action here.

And it is kind of autobiographical, as it started from this picture, taken by Kingley's wife, after she herself branded her not-yet-so-fat hubby:

http://media.tumblr.com/2057036b675d2...
Dan Honeywell
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You have to be slighlty twisted with a dry sense of humor (or something) to appreciate this kind of writing and you also have to understand that the main character is, like the title says, one fat Englishman. And he's a jerk. But that's the point. so if you accept that, then you can enjoy the book, the writing, and have a laugh...

"Then he went down the slope to join her. He slid about a bit in doing so, either because of the gin or because he was holding his stomach in so tightly that his legs
...more
Jonkers Jonkers
Jun 17, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've never read a Kingsley Amis before and I have to say that I won't be reading any more. I forced myself to get to the end but it didn't improve. I couldn't see any humour in the book and wouldn't have known it was meant to be funny if I hadn't read that it was. Hugely annoying and unbelievable main character and lots of other annoying characters. I realise that Roger Micheldene is meant to be awful, but I didn't even find his awfulness amusing. Very disappointed.
Ross Mckeen
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
The titular character, Roger Micheldene, is a misogynist and racist slob. I don't mind despicable characters when they show some hint of redeeming value ...charm?...good intent?... development? There's none here. He's just unpleasant and the book feels mean.
Carofish
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first Kingsley Amis and I loved it. The irreverence and caustic tone was refreshing. Although the protagonist is really an awful man you can help but be delighted with the things he says and does. A privilege to read such great writing
Bill
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A contemporary and even more mordant view from the same era as Mad Men. Amis was pretty ruthless.
Chiefdonkey Bradey
Savage, cynical and very funny - like downing a belter of a horse's neck in one
Jill Cordry
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A hilarious story about a despicable character. I had to keep highlighting passages of fantastic writing.
Christian Schwoerke
I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I think Amis’ Lucky Jim is about as perfect a comic novel as there can be. Using that touchstone, I found Girl, 20 and Jake’s Thing fun reads but inferior. One Fat Englishman gets the same rating, entertaining—albeit disturbingly—but not of the caliber of the cynosure that is Lucky Jim.

While the writing is brisk and amusing, if not sometimes straining for a comic understatement, the novel’s principal, Roger Micheldene, a publisher briefly visiting the states for
...more
Helen
Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-books, fiction
Uncomfortable to read in places. I think the main problem is that I can never be sure how self-aware Amis was - this could be a self-portrait. I suspect he did recognise his own prejudices, and his fictional way of expressing them was conscious rather than accidental. Although Micheldean is scornful about the US, he seems to be enjoying a lot of hospitality and good food and of course drink. The anti-American bits are simplistic of course, and the jokes are old by now. This is fairly ...more
Phrodrick
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why, I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.
--Thomas Brown

There is a long tradition in many cultures of the lovable rogue the charming con man and his female counterpart the hooker with a heart of gold. Enter Roger Micheldene. Even his name is somewhat aggravating and in fact it's longer and more complicated than this but we only have to deal with that one obscure paragraph deep in the book. Roger is a man of
...more
Daniel
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dialogue was messy. Characters are racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic. While this is done for satirical purposes, it is by and large uninteresting and lacking in humour. The story is predominantly about sex, however there isn't a single sex scene. This is disappointing for obvious reasons. It takes admirable skill to write sex scenes smoothly into literature; and I have immense appreciation for any author who can achieve this purposefully and without being crude or obscene. There are exactly two ...more
Frank
Jul 08, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
One Stupid Book. I enjoy a good sexist joke as much as the next man, but boy, this is just dumb. It's sexist, it's racist and it's unfair, but those virtues can't redeem the fact it just isn't funny.

Food for Amis aficionados only. Certainly not for a reprint in any classics series (as the NYRB Classics, where it's scheduled to appear this year).

The main character is One Fat English Boor running round in an America he detests, which sounds promising – but it turns out he's not an interesting
...more
Bart
Jul 22, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Patient and obese Englishmen
This book was a disappointment.

Years ago, I read The King's English and found it quite entertaining. Since that time, I often thought of Kingsley Amis and how I should read one of his novels. I even read House of Meetings (a tremendously good novel) by Martin Amis, Kingsley's son.

Now I have gone and read a Kingsley Amis novel, and I can report that it left a lot to be desired. It is not particularly funny; there aren't ten sentences that bring a smile to one's face.

When I read the fawning
...more
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NYRB Classics: One Fat Englishman, by Kingsley Amis 2 5 Oct 29, 2013 04:10PM  

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Sir Kingsley William Amis, CBE was an English novelist, poet, critic, and teacher. He wrote more than twenty novels, three collections of poetry, short stories, radio and television scripts, and books of social and literary criticism. He fathered the English novelist Martin Amis.

Kingsley Amis was born in Clapham, Wandsworth, County of London (now South London), England, the son of William Robert
...more
“He was of the faith chiefly in the sense that the church he currently did not attend was Catholic.” 8 likes
“{Rogers} sexual aim is “to convert a creature who is cool, dry, calm, articulate, independent, purposeful into a creature who is the opposite of these: to demonstrate to an animal which is pretending not to be an animal that it is an animal.” 4 likes
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