Martin Amis’s Best Books: A Guide

Late 20th-century British novelist Martin Amis died Friday at the age of 73. As former New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani wrote of Amis in her review of her 2000 memoir, Experience, he was “a prepared writer,” with a dizzying chameleon-like wielding of language, a large He possesses a mind-boggling trove of literary talent, a willingness to tackle problems and the larger social canvas, and an unrelenting appetite for the unwholesome fermentation of modern life. ”

He was known primarily for unleashing his arsenal of frighteningly witty, linguistically bold novels, but he was also an essayist, memoirist, and first-class critic. The book below charts some of the peaks of Amis’ career.

This was Amis’ first semi-biographical novel, presenting him as an omnivorous wit and dark observer of life. The book tells the story of wise teenage Charles Highway and his first love, Rachel Noyes, the year before college.

The novel is “a tale of groin and armpits in late adolescence,” wrote the reviewer, describing would-be writer Charles as “compulsively squeezing pimples, plucking nostrils, inspecting used handkerchiefs, and wrinkling.” One who counts,” he said. …It takes a certain kind of comical flair to make Charles such a tantalizing and disgusting creature, and Martin Amis has it. ”

Many readers consider this to be the best of Amis’ early novels. The film tells the story of John Self, a British-American television advertising director who comes to New York to shoot his first feature film. He’s foul-mouthed, sloppy, messy, and on paper he’s a very respectable person.

“The book’s sprint and weight and pulse give it a deeper energy,” wrote reviewer Veronica Genn. Fellow humans falling into totality? Amis herself appears in her novels as “a lofty ascetic type of theoretical chatter about the art of fiction and the phenomenon of ‘unprovoked crime'”.

Set in declining London, this glittery, dark comic novel is a murder mystery about a murder that hasn’t happened yet. The work features American novelist Samson Young, who struggles with a writer’s impasse, and a host of other characters for whom readers can hardly find salvation.

Critic Bette Pesetsky described London Fields as “a powerful picaresque novel” and “a brilliant portrayal of a wild and lecherous society”. In an era of declining fiction, this is a book of great inventions in comics and satire. ”

The narrative conception of this novel is deceptively simple. The time series is reversed. Readers meet protagonist Todd Friendly on his deathbed, and as the story progresses, his life unfolds, moving from the hospital to the scene of a heart attack to darker episodes. As our readers know, this friendly pseudonym is the man’s latest pseudonym. Years ago, he was a Nazi doctor who fled Europe to the United States.

The structure of the narrative creates disturbing parallels, such as the janitor clearing the trash, the patient being admitted healthy and discharged sick, and mass murder in Auschwitz appearing to be an act of fiction. In his book review, David Lehman succinctly states, “The very tools of historical revisionism lend themselves to heartbreaking fiction.”

The novel, which depicts one author’s intense jealousy of another, made headlines in the British tabloids, partly because of the amount of money Amis was paid for the work. It would be about “Amusingly disturbing, alternating between satire and kindness, ‘The Information’ marks a major leap forward in Amis’ career,” writes Michiko Kakutani. “Here, in a tale of middle-aged anxiety and literary despair, all the themes and stylistic experiments of Amis’ early novels are brought together in one symphony.”

Christopher Buckley wrote in his book review: “The Information” drags around a bit midway through, but it never falls out of reach for glittery phrases, stiletto tropes, and deadly insights into the human condition. ”

In 2019, The Times book reviewer included The Experience among the 50 best memoirs of the past 50 years. When the book was published in 2000, Michiko Kakutani praised the book, remembering it best as “a stunningly vivid portrayal of the author’s late father, the comic novelist and poet Kingsley Amis.” expected to remain in It is a portrait “brought to life by lucid literary insight and enduring love and affection.”

Taken together, The Experience is Amis’ “most fully realized book to date, a book that fuses his humor, intelligence, and audacity with a newfound dignity and warmth, and at the same time, a tribute to his father.” The book is like a loving tribute to ,” she said. and as a realization of his own rich talent as a writer. ”

Amis brought the same ferocity and style to criticism as he had to novels. The reviews and essays in this collection are “consistently compelling, often enlightening, and almost always entertaining,” wrote Michiko Kakutani. In it, Amis wrote about Austen, Nabokov, Updike, and many others. In her review, Jenny Turner wrote, “It is a brief expression of the Amis’ transliterary interests in chess, poker, and nuclear weapons.” “This is a portrait of the artist as a reader of great books.”

Amis called his last novel “pretty strictly autobiographical”. It contains portraits of three authors who played important and important roles in his life: Philip Larkin, Saul Bellow and Christopher Hitchens. The book is “an unsettling and charismatic work that mixes fact and fiction,” Parul Segar wrote in The Times. In a book review, Tom Bissell called the book Amis’ “most beautiful book”, and its depiction of Hitchens’ long death should touch only the “most stubborn” readers.

Segal also emphasizes that element of the book, writing: A writer much admired for his own style (but derided for being any style), Amis accesses a whole new depth of emotion and verbal simplicity in his work. . ”

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