Martin Amis: Where do I start?

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I've read (or head) a few recommendations for the work of Martin Amis. Where should I start?

mike h. (mike h.), Thursday, 10 March 2005 20:36 (eighteen years ago) link

I say start at the top: Money.

Ken L (Ken L), Thursday, 10 March 2005 21:02 (eighteen years ago) link

Don't. Read 'Pale Fire' , White Noise' or 'Nostromo' if you haven't already. 'Lucky Jim' 's aged badly too.

wtin, Friday, 11 March 2005 11:11 (eighteen years ago) link

What? Are you writing from some Borgesian parallel universe where Martin Amis is the author of those works?

Ken L (Ken L), Friday, 11 March 2005 11:38 (eighteen years ago) link

I would go for 'Success', then 'The Rachel Papers', then 'Money', then stop.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Friday, 11 March 2005 12:20 (eighteen years ago) link

I've only read "London Fields". It's genius, and I recommend it to everyone. You can't cheat the darts.

DV (dirtyvicar), Friday, 11 March 2005 13:20 (eighteen years ago) link

Vicar, are you trying to provoke?

the bellefox, Friday, 11 March 2005 18:16 (eighteen years ago) link

1) The Rachel Papers
2) Success
3) Money
4) The Information
5) London Fields
6) Amis' collected non-fiction

I'd pass on "Time's Arrow; it's dull. "Dead Babies" isn't a great book, but it's gruesomely fun.

Vic, Friday, 11 March 2005 21:35 (eighteen years ago) link

"Dead Babies" was my favorite amongst the works of Amis FILS, but dammit for the six billionth time you're better off with the alternate-universe (read: pere) Amis, that is to babble: SIR KINGSLEY AMIS. The dead one, snif.

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Saturday, 12 March 2005 01:01 (eighteen years ago) link

another vote for war against cliches

anthony easton (anthony), Saturday, 12 March 2005 09:08 (eighteen years ago) link

I'm a devotee/completist, and have always preferred the non-fiction.

1. The War Against Cliche
2. Money
3. London Fields
4. The Moronic Inferno
5. The Rachel Papers
6. Experience
7. The Information
8. Visting Mrs. Nabakov
9. Einstein's Monsters
10. Success
11. Time's Arrow
12. Heavy Water
13. Night Train
14. Other People
15. Dead Babies

Never seen a copy of Invasion of the Space Invaders.
Experience improves exponentially if read w/Letters of Kingsley Amis

lovebug starski (lovebug starski), Saturday, 12 March 2005 12:00 (eighteen years ago) link

lovebug, it looks like you got it all covered and I hate to nitpick, but what about the Stalin book, Koba the something or other?

Ken L (Ken L), Sunday, 13 March 2005 00:09 (eighteen years ago) link

koba the dread is miserable.

i always liked time's arrow as a one-off concept with a big payoff and london fields for the puzzle-solving shtick.

the information is his best "mature" novel that isn't dead awful.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Sunday, 13 March 2005 03:25 (eighteen years ago) link

I'd start with his nonfiction, because he's a much smarter writer there, because he has an obligation to be accurate. So, Visiting Mrs. Nabokov, War Against Cliche, and The Moronic Inferno, in that order. In his more famous fiction, he often ends up doing a bad Nabokov impression, doing what he thinks "American" sounds like, when he's really doing babytalk. I've read parts of Time's Arrow and all of The Information and he's definitely vivid and entertaining, but he has a lot of pages of grey, faulty text. If you're into this sort of thing, you might want to start with Nabokov and Bellow.

kensanway, Sunday, 13 March 2005 03:43 (eighteen years ago) link

HAHAHA I own & have read Koba the Dread and agree that it's his worst book, guess I subconsciously edited it out in deference. As evidenced by the coda to Kingsley, I think Koba was part of Martin's mourning process for his father, coming to terms w/ dad's conservatism and the fall of communism. It's like a long promo for The Great Terror by (KA pal) Robert Conquest.

Hey, somehow I forgot Yellow Dog, too. I actually enjoyed it, but it's definitely MA lite. His take on pornography interests me.

This piece, on the other hand, is fucking amazing.,,1-531-1458940-531,00.html

lovebug starski (lovebug starski), Sunday, 13 March 2005 13:18 (eighteen years ago) link

Martin Amis UK 80s/90s = Norman Mailer US 50s/60s.

lovebug starski (lovebug starski), Sunday, 13 March 2005 13:20 (eighteen years ago) link

Start w London Fields, then go to The Information.

Franz Kafka (Franz), Monday, 14 March 2005 19:57 (eighteen years ago) link

Here's my question for anybody out there, particularly lovebug starski: how do you explain MA's great admiration for certain American writers who perhaps suffer from a certain elephantiasis, let's call it, that he himself doesn't indulge in? I'm thinking of Bellow and DeLillo in particular.

Ken L (Ken L), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 00:17 (eighteen years ago) link

DeLillo has only written one very long book and Bellow hasn't really written ANY very long ones has he?

jed_ (jed), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 01:48 (eighteen years ago) link

I don't know. Maybe some of them just SEEM long.

Ken L (Ken L), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 01:50 (eighteen years ago) link

Ken I'm not so well versed in Bellow but I'd guess that the Experience memoir was heavily influenced by the ruminative Ravelstein. There may be a broad connection between Money ("A Suicide Note") and Herzog ("If I am out of my mind, it's all right with me, thought Moses Herzog.")

The only DeLillo I've been able to finish (or didn't hurl at the wall) was Libra which I gather is pretty atypical of his oevre.

lovebug starski (lovebug starski), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 13:46 (eighteen years ago) link

Thanks, lovebug, but now I think I remember how it works. I saw him speaking and he was talking about the classic Atlantic Divide, that the British traditionally write novels of manners, while the Yanks are more likely to write novels of ideas (a crude but useful taxonomy), and he was admiring the ability of various American authors, including the two mentioned, to Think Big.

Ken L (Ken L), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 15:25 (eighteen years ago) link

The thought of Martin Amis trying to emulate Bellow is sort of touching: like watching a five-year old child imitating a basketball move that he saw Michael Jordan do on TV.

o. nate (onate), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 15:40 (eighteen years ago) link

_Time's Arrow_ was pretty cool.

mcd (mcd), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 17:29 (eighteen years ago) link

He's like the living embodiment of everything wrong with the world.

Flyboy (Flyboy), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 14:27 (eighteen years ago) link

I have never read a worse short story than the ones in Heavy Water.

Flyboy (Flyboy), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 14:28 (eighteen years ago) link

I didn't like them either, but I suppose they were of their time. Might seem a bit pointless now. I can only remember the one about a puppy, and even then I can only remember that it was about a puppy.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 14:52 (eighteen years ago) link

WHAT is it exactly that you all so dislike about this fellow?

james dolby, Wednesday, 16 March 2005 15:02 (eighteen years ago) link

We are jealous of his success.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 15:14 (eighteen years ago) link

He is aesthetically dreadful and politically indefensible. His influence upon the land of Albion is like a veritable pox. A pox!

Flyboy (Flyboy), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 15:15 (eighteen years ago) link

WHAT are his politics?

jameson u. isinghall, Wednesday, 16 March 2005 15:18 (eighteen years ago) link

Rampant misogyny, flagrant contempt for the working class - and did you know that the left wing have been covering up the fact that Stalin was a bit of a rogue?

Flyboy (Flyboy), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 15:21 (eighteen years ago) link

REALLY. what a son of a bitch. so what is money about then? i figured it was another 80s greed critique.

is he really not that good a writer?

if what you say is true: i would kind of like to kick his ass.

the misoginizer, Wednesday, 16 March 2005 15:37 (eighteen years ago) link

I think Amis is a pretty standard cantankerous old 60s/70s Oxbridge liberal-leftie, really - these days he is probably to the left of Chris Hitchens (though who isn't?). His snobbishness always struck me as an aspirational pose (he aspires to the Euro-in-the-US hauteur of Bellow or Nabokov) - I don't think he was brought up with any great wealth. And the daft sexism is part of his desire to be a bit of a swaggery Jagger or a paler Mailer.

I agree with Lovebug about starting with the journalism. 'The Moronic Inferno' gives you a good grounding on where he's coming from.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 15:44 (eighteen years ago) link

JtN's first paragraph OTM. And while we're on the subject of the journalism, may I say I loved the bit in Visiting Mrs. Nabokov where he went to interview Isaac Asimov about his incredible OED-sized two volume autobiography.

Ken L (Ken L), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 15:54 (eighteen years ago) link

The Nipper's post is fine. 'Paler Mailer' is especially fine.

Money is a kind of satire, maybe; that's what I heard.

It is kind of sweet the way how in any discussion (real-life, I mean: in my experience) of Amis, however critical, the minute journalism is mentioned people say - 'Oh, yes, as a *journalist*, he's *excellent*...'.

A long-standing claim is that he can write sentences, but not novels. Oddly, in his big book of reviews he sometimes says that other people (Tom Wolfe?) can't properly write novels neither.

the bellefox, Wednesday, 16 March 2005 15:55 (eighteen years ago) link

Never seen a copy of Invasion of the Space Invaders.

I saw a scan of it somewhere in the internet once. It is a guide to playing the game Space Invaders better. It definitely did improve my performance a little - I was not aware of many of the bonuses available, etc.

Eyeball Kicks (Eyeball Kicks), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 15:58 (eighteen years ago) link

Here is a part of it, in pdf format:

Eyeball Kicks (Eyeball Kicks), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 16:02 (eighteen years ago) link

I never knew about that (well, maybe I had forgotten about it) until lovebug mentioned it. Excellent.

Ken L (Ken L), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 16:09 (eighteen years ago) link

sentences are fine. i'll give him a go someday. mailer too, where should i start? someone just tell me quick so i can get that over with.

the venice-simplon orient express, Wednesday, 16 March 2005 16:10 (eighteen years ago) link

and bellow. oh dear. there is a lot to read. ;-(

the pre-1914 orient express, Wednesday, 16 March 2005 16:11 (eighteen years ago) link

Sorry, earlier on I asked PF if he was going to GHS. I did, of course, mean BHS, British Home Stores, where we were intending to go and look for bedside lamps. I apologise for any misunderstanding. Meet me by the first floor lavvies.

I think Martin Amis's journalism is Sunday Supplement crap.

I will read Yellow Dog (Up High in Banana Tree) and Report Back. I bet it's quite good.

Money is kind of about Thatcherism, I think. It is funny and entertaining and enjoyable. It played a bit-part in the essay what I got the highest marks what I ever got ever for, which was about Laurence Sterne. It is (Money) a good book made up of good sentences.

Long may his star continue to rise because I have a first edition of London Fields complete with free sample chapter given away by WHSmiths. I hope one day to retire on the proceeds.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 16:37 (eighteen years ago) link

Sorry, wrong thread.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 16:38 (eighteen years ago) link

A long-standing claim is that he can write sentences, but not novels.

I disagree. I think he's a hopeless stylist. It's all "look at me Mum" style writing:

"the contrails of the more distant aeroplanes were like incandescent spermatozoa, sent out to fertilise the universe."

If you think the above sentence is wonderful, then Martin is the man for you. If you think it's preening sixth-form puffery, then I advise staying well clear of him.

Jonathan Z. (Joanthan Z.), Thursday, 17 March 2005 14:22 (eighteen years ago) link

I have seen worse. i give it 5/10-7/10 depending on the context.

the agatha christie orient express, Thursday, 17 March 2005 14:57 (eighteen years ago) link

Did he write that sentence, or did you?

I have certainly seen him write far better sentences than that.

the bellefox, Thursday, 17 March 2005 14:58 (eighteen years ago) link

It's from Yellow Dog. The Observer review singled it out as an example of brilliant writing, Tibor Fischer singled it out as an example of appalling writing.

Jonathan Z. (Joanthan Z.), Thursday, 17 March 2005 16:38 (eighteen years ago) link

the problem really lies in 'spermatozoa'. what the fuck.

STAMBOUL TRAIN, Thursday, 17 March 2005 16:46 (eighteen years ago) link

Well, if your going to be pulling sentences from Yellow Dog then you are stacking the deck, aren't you?

Ken L (Ken L), Thursday, 17 March 2005 17:34 (eighteen years ago) link

We had a conversation, about Marin Amis, in real life, last night.

A better sentence would be, 'He shot his load like a fighter pilot.'

The Amis sentence looks quite playful to me. And there's an awful lot in it.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Thursday, 17 March 2005 17:40 (eighteen years ago) link

In fact doesn't he mention Martians in Money maybe even on the first page? No, sorry, it's Venusians on the second page.

Ken L (Ken L), Tuesday, 19 April 2005 22:32 (seventeen years ago) link

Although there is probably an interesting essay to be written on Amis as heir of both The Movemement (Larkin etc) and The Martians (Craig Raine etc).

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 20 April 2005 08:14 (seventeen years ago) link

There is a book called sth like: Amis: Martians, Monsters and Madonna - which plays on this idea. But a) it probably understands the Raine idea worse than JtN and b) it is quite bad, generally.

the bellefox, Wednesday, 20 April 2005 13:34 (seventeen years ago) link

one year passes...
The Age of Horrorism!

Jeff LeVine (Jeff LeVine), Monday, 18 September 2006 18:30 (sixteen years ago) link

martin amis's face has collapsed judging by the photo of him in the sunday times magazine yesterday.

jed_ (jed), Monday, 18 September 2006 20:38 (sixteen years ago) link

Start with his brain-dead defence of the culture he's apparently been satirizing for 25 years.

Then read somebody else.

Why does my IQ changes? (noodle vague), Monday, 18 September 2006 21:23 (sixteen years ago) link

"You can say this for The Information - it has a lot of information in it. Diatribes on dying suns, multiple lecture series on what women don't want, public warnings on race hazards. Yes, it's informative, The Information. All the same, you shouldn't start with The Information. You don't want to do that. You shouldn't finish with The Information, either. Finishing with The Information - bad move. On the whole, you have to say, you shouldn't be caught dead starting with The Information. The Information - don't start it...

Well ... I happened to start w/ The Information, loved it, and moved onto London Fields and Time's Arrow, then to a few of the non-fiction books (War ... Cliche, Visiting Mrs. Nabokov). Guess I'm one of the few that prefers his fiction to his non-fiction. I thought Amis wrote the bitter/oblivious writers of The Information well.

Are there differing summary judgments of Amis in a US/UK breakdown?

Jamesy (SuzyCreemcheese), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 00:58 (sixteen years ago) link

koba the dread is miserable.

it's flawed (i almost threw the book out the window at the point where amis idly muses that, all things considered, he'd much rather be incinerated at hiroshima than sentenced to the gulag), but pretty much everything he sez about lenin AND hitchens (haha, the ideal couple!) is OTM.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 05:47 (sixteen years ago) link

to be honest i have yet to hear a description of that book that makes me want to not read it.

this thread is very British. innit.

tom west (thomp), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 06:25 (sixteen years ago) link

i suspect i win the unofficial award for "american poster that most ppl assume is british"

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 07:36 (sixteen years ago) link

i meant the rest of it! the vicar and the pinefox and the nipper and other people i get confused

and someone said "pretentious sixth-form puffery"!

tom west (thomp), Tuesday, 19 September 2006 09:01 (sixteen years ago) link

four years pass...

he sounds rather decent there, surprisingly.

thomp, Wednesday, 26 January 2011 15:26 (twelve years ago) link

unfortunate url. colm toibin teaching martin amis to do what?

thomp, Wednesday, 26 January 2011 15:27 (twelve years ago) link

Yes, he sounds decent in that piece, misleadingly.

Not that Amis has no decency, necessarily, but the things he says here are a farrago of facades.

I'm not sure how much I like Toibin. His novel Brooklyn is widely read but very blank. And his LRB reviews, in a worrying sign, are sprawling, unstructured and unilluminating.

the pinefox, Thursday, 27 January 2011 08:27 (twelve years ago) link

if we must have fictionalised accounts of henry james eyeing up the bootboy, give me david lodge any old day

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 27 January 2011 09:03 (twelve years ago) link

Enjoy Toibin in the LRB, mostly – article on the Pope was great – but his crit doesn't stick with me. Still, I imagine he'd be a better or more engaged teacher than Amis; probably a better guide to the conventional mechanics of fiction?

portrait of velleity (woof), Thursday, 27 January 2011 09:45 (twelve years ago) link

I liked Brooklyn: a minor thing very well done.

Rich Lolwry (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 27 January 2011 11:58 (twelve years ago) link

he's a better novelist than Amis.

Rich Lolwry (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 27 January 2011 11:58 (twelve years ago) link

I tried and could not get into The Information, and then I did what I think I haven't done with any other novel -- skipped the first section, and thoroughly enjoyed the remaining couple hundred pages.

An Artily Shot Sesame Street (Eazy), Thursday, 27 January 2011 17:19 (twelve years ago) link

in some ways i'm a big amis fan -- adore the war against cliche, some other essays, and time's arrow -- but i'm halfway through the very slim house of meetings and it's taking me forever, not because it's hard but because it feels... rushed. a little too sure of itself? and there are plenty of good bits of elegiac Christ-what-happened-here prose, but amis isn't robert conquest when it comes to the weird blend of detachment, irony, and utter brutal specificity that works so well for descriptions of stalinism. (there are not a lot of robert conquests.) plus his method of approaching The Human Aspect is to overlay this nasty love triangle ganked from nabokov, which keeps falling into this very particular tone of weird affected sexual wisdom that feels callow in a postwar british schoolboy way. (this happens in other books too.) in some ways i preferred koba the dread even though everything everyone said about that was pretty much right.

difficult listening hour, Thursday, 27 January 2011 18:00 (twelve years ago) link

Different Amis, same Conquest, but perhaps just about worth noting that The Egyptologists (written by Conquest, heavily revised/co-authored by Amis) is a dreadful dreadful piece of shit.

Just in case anyone was ever tempted to check it out. A horrid stain on both their sometimes rather dubious careers.

Herr Kapitan Pugvosh (GamalielRatsey), Thursday, 27 January 2011 18:17 (twelve years ago) link

three months pass...

For those of you who are keeping an eye on him...

alimosina, Saturday, 30 April 2011 18:49 (eleven years ago) link

Ms. Egan belongs to the slice of the Brooklyn literati that has just entered its prime. The book contracts are steady and robust. The glossy assignments come so easily they can be comfortably turned down. Some of these writers can even afford sports cars.

Wait -- is this true?

My mom is all about capital gains tax butthurtedness (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 30 April 2011 18:53 (eleven years ago) link

I like to think that he will take it all in stride, and then in three years a book will come out that will be a perfect send-up of the neighborhood

oh dear

Ismael Klata, Saturday, 30 April 2011 19:01 (eleven years ago) link

omg. Daniel Radosh quote was pretty funny.

A Bop Gun for Dinosaur (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 30 April 2011 21:03 (eleven years ago) link

"Martin Amis is exactly who we've all been waiting for," said Starlee Kine, a journalist and prominent radio personality at work on her first book in Williamsburg, where she lives next door to Henry Miller's childhood home. "And if there was ever a neighborhood that could use someone like Martin Amis, it's Cobble Hill."

is this a joke?

Starlee Kine ... can't see what the joke would be.

but the sentiments cannot be serious.

the pinefox, Sunday, 1 May 2011 09:45 (eleven years ago) link

The book contracts are steady and robust. The glossy assignments come so easily they can be comfortably turned down. Some of these writers can even afford sports cars.


guy mann-dude (m coleman), Sunday, 1 May 2011 12:17 (eleven years ago) link

also LOL @ Kurt Anderson's "I was here first" one-upsmanship

guy mann-dude (m coleman), Sunday, 1 May 2011 12:19 (eleven years ago) link

eleven years pass...

It occurs to me that Martin Amis's place in literary history has been shrinking.

I suppose I mean that he might not be remembered as a very major writer.

the pinefox, Sunday, 19 February 2023 12:49 (one month ago) link

You wanna put money on that?

after the pinefox (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 19 February 2023 14:10 (one month ago) link

It occurs to me that Martin Amis's place in literary history has been shrinking.

I suppose I mean that he might not be remembered as a very major writer.

lol i was discussing this with ilxor woof not that long ago. he’s had the sort of post death disappearance from relevance and *le discourse* while still alive. objectively amusing. like you i wouldn’t bank on it coming back. he looks v minor these days. experience is still great imo and money has a certain style, the rest, not so much. obv we have no way of telling what the whirligigs of time will bring in but yeah, feels v minor these days.

Fizzles, Sunday, 19 February 2023 14:23 (one month ago) link

Feels nailed on to me too yeah. I mention this all the time but I’ll never get over learning that he had a new book out and it was a the way we live now satire called LIONEL ASBO and had send ups of like Katie Price, just the unavoidable true fact sitting right there forever that this guy is Ben Elton and everyone who touted him as something else needs to be embarrassed

piedro àlamodevar (wins), Sunday, 19 February 2023 14:32 (one month ago) link

If assessing his late career we should also look beyond ASBO (which I'm afraid I started and didn't finish - maybe I should try again?) and remember that he wrote THE PREGNANT WIDOW, HOUSE OF MEETINGS and the one about a concentration camp - decreasing public interest in all these I'd say - before issuing INSIDE STORY, which seems to have been a really bizarre book, a fictionalised autobiography (again I'm talking about something I've only glanced at).

If he'd published that, say 20 years earlier then surely it would have made a big splash. Now he can't seem to generate that publicity somehow, whatever the writing's like.

I don't think his earlier work need be tainted by the later - it can be tainted enough in itself. But I do feel, somehow subjectively, that the passage of time is making it smaller in the rear view mirror rather than canonically larger.

the pinefox, Sunday, 19 February 2023 14:41 (one month ago) link

Latest of his I've read is Time's Arrow, which was quite impressive when I was 15 but suspect wouldn't be quite so good now - also it is suspicious similar in concept to an episode of Red Dwarf from the previous year. I remember the release of The Information being a big deal, since then have only noticed him when he says something stupid in an interview.

Camaraderie at Arms Length, Sunday, 19 February 2023 14:47 (one month ago) link

I enjoyed bits of Inside Story, which reminded me that, as I learned from Experience (still his most fully realized book), his best subject is his own self-regard.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 19 February 2023 14:50 (one month ago) link

bad form to repost myself maybe but i feel i got this one right:

picture an entire body made of tin ear

― mark s, Thursday, 5 October 2017 13:06 (five years ago) bookmarkflaglink

mark s, Sunday, 19 February 2023 15:12 (one month ago) link

I did not finish Inside Story, which I had to check was not called Inside Job. I may yet - it was a mix of bafflingly terrible and actually quite likeable.

& I looked back over me and fizzles on Amis (taking place during the old queen's funeral earlier this year) & tho ~major writer~ feels like an odd and slightly bogus idea nowadays, you get the sense that Amis probably really fucking minds about not being a major writer.

Also - I think his disappearance has been assisted by something that's sort of 'death of the monoculture/apparent cultural consensus' but I think is more concretely the cull of the separate broadsheet books sections and literary editors - about 15 years ago now iirc. The major place for eg Robert McCrum to say ah yes but Money is a major novel to a general audience (also interview with Amis, Amis face on cover) collapsed p quickly.

So I'd guess he just isn't someone that literary guys(*) under 40 would have read at the age (15-25 or so?) where he gets to become a permanent part of your head furniture.

* I mean guys, it was always guys

woof, Sunday, 19 February 2023 16:38 (one month ago) link

a mix of bafflingly terrible and actually quite likeable.

like most male novelists

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 19 February 2023 16:42 (one month ago) link

it was a mix of bafflingly terrible and actually quite likeable

Got really stuck at a point where he's spelling his name aloud:

"Martin Amis," I said. "That's eh em eye ess."

I just kept pronouncing 'eh' over and over to make it recognisable as A but didn't quite get there.

woof, Sunday, 19 February 2023 16:46 (one month ago) link

^^^^ strong support for

picture an entire body made of tin ear

woof, Sunday, 19 February 2023 16:47 (one month ago) link


piedro àlamodevar (wins), Sunday, 19 February 2023 16:47 (one month ago) link

I agree about the whole “major writer” framing & the test of time is bunk but any excuse to mock this arsehole (whom I largely haven’t read)

piedro àlamodevar (wins), Sunday, 19 February 2023 16:51 (one month ago) link

There used to be a BBC radio show called "My Word."

One time they had a topic of "unlikeliest book titles," and someone said "My Struggle, by Martin Amis."

I think about that a lot. Mostly in the context of how hard it was for Julian Lennon or Jakob Dylan to get a record deal, but in other contexts as well.

There are some fun parts of London Fields and The Information. Time's Arrow is not bad but it is basically one joke. Some not bad essays in Visiting Mr. Nabokov.. Personally I don't regret reading these books, but don't feel the need to revisit any of them. Rachel Papers is pretty unpleasant IMO.

nat king cole slaw (Ye Mad Puffin), Sunday, 19 February 2023 16:54 (one month ago) link

Not even cancelled.

woof, Sunday, 19 February 2023 16:56 (one month ago) link

I have long thought that Amis merited a great deal of criticism, censure and dissent.

Yet 'tin ear' seems a peculiarly inapt - perhaps even tin-eared - way of registering this, as his gift was a poet's ear, for assonance, surprise and rhythm in the combination of words.

Poster Woof is shrewd in pointing out the change in literary journalism as a material basis for Amis's shifted reputation. Yes, such context is crucial.

My own first reference for this, though, is always the Guardian - which has thus changed. (Its Review 20 years ago was a terrific publication; now almost vanished into the depths of its Saturday section.) Have other broadsheets likewise changed? They seem still to be heavier than the now slim Guardian. Meanwhile the TLS, LRB, NS (for which Amis wrote) are still going.

I reflect that the Guardian's quantity of books coverage might not be lower than 30 years ago (when Richard Gott and James Wood were still around?). Though it might be lower in quality.

re Amis's forthcoming repute, I wonder if the best he can hope for is to be like Mailer. Remembered as a colourful polemicist, original journalist, fixture of an era, yet patchily read for his fiction.

(The comparison has the slight merit of Amis having written well on Mailer, decades ago. It would still be worth rereading that MORONIC INFERNO material.)

the pinefox, Monday, 20 February 2023 09:56 (one month ago) link

When I consider Good Amis Journalism, it's Moronic Inferno that I think of.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 20 February 2023 10:23 (one month ago) link

I agree about the whole “major writer” framing & the test of time is bunk but any excuse to mock this arsehole (whom I largely haven’t read)

― piedro àlamodevar (wins), Sunday, 19 February 2023 bookmarkflaglink

Twitter is (or was, as it's dying) pretty good a marker for seeing what people have feelings for. In the way people share a passage and enthusiasm for the force of the word. I've never seen anything of Amis' that is shared at all.

And I look at what woof is saying about the literary culture that celebrated a man who wrote things that look like will die with that culture, and you think what good was there in the first place, if the words do not appear to have survived at any kind of organic level as the economics have dragged it down.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 20 February 2023 11:43 (one month ago) link

I have seen someone like Will Self also talking in some interview about how he hasn't really emulated writers he loved while growing up, which you feel sad for him. For about a second, before you think "good, suffer some more".

xyzzzz__, Monday, 20 February 2023 11:54 (one month ago) link

I like Amis by the page, but the thought of reading a whole novel is exhausting to think about, let alone attempt.

Chuck_Tatum, Tuesday, 21 February 2023 16:00 (one month ago) link

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