Books: About Time THE OLD DEVILS

by Kingsley Amis Summit; 294 pages; $16.95

American admirers of Kingsley Amis, 64, were cheered last October to learn that The Old Devils, his 18th novel, had won the Booker Prize, Britain's most prestigious literary award. "About time" seemed a fitting response to the news, especially from those readers who had discovered the writer's incendiary comic skills as far back as his first novel, Lucky Jim (1954). On the other hand, the thought of Amis' being toasted across Britain was enough to provoke an unsettling question among Stateside fans: Could it be possible that the aging bad boy wrote a book that did not insult or offend anyone?

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