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Amis, Martin

self read

(British, 1949– )

Amis is one of those names that a lot of people shy away from. The press dubbed him ‘the Mick Jagger of fiction’, accusing him of arrogance and misogyny—which is probably true, but he's still a great writer. Don't read Amis for the plots, read him for the riffs on contemporary culture. Start with Money (1984), quintessential Amis; John Self overdoses on pornography, drugs, fast food, and fame; his descent into hell is hilarious and ultimately full of pathos. London Fields (1989) pushes the Amis formula into caricature as Nicola Six pursues her own death in a literary/sexual fulfilment. It's always hard to tell in Amis how much is satire and how much is confessional autobiography, the most famous example being The Information (1995), which chronicles the bitter envy of Richard Tull, failed novelist, for his friend, popular author Gwyn Barry. Time's Arrow (1992) takes the most emotive of subjects, the Holocaust, and treats it with dry, technical brilliance. Telling the story backwards is an extraordinary approach which cheats you into looking at the full horror of the concentration camps face on. Just when you think you've got Amis pinned down he hits you with something different. Night Train (1997) features his first ever female character to be more than a bust size and makes her vulnerable, sympathetic, and the good guy, in a take on the noir thriller.

Will Self, Ian McEwan, Saul Bellow, Vladimir Nabokov. See SOCIAL ISSUES  RV

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