- Martin Amis Time's Arrow Study Guide
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- AMIS, Martin (Louis)
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Other People is consequently Amis's most under-rated novel. It demands but also rewards much careful re-reading and, while it is not as funny as his other books, its concerns are close to the lucid center of his art.
Martin Amis Time's Arrow Study Guide
The attempt to explore the relationship of narrator to the character and to establish a new and compelling metaphor of narratorial complicity becomes a central thread of Money and also of Amis's work, London Fields. In Money , the narrator is a grotesque high-and-low-life television commercial director called John Self, who jets backwards and forwards across the Atlantic trying to put together a deal to direct his first feature film. Meanwhile, his precarious life falls apart as sexual, financial, and literary plots become entangled in a series of schemes of which Self turns out not to be the perpetrator, as he supposed, but the victim.
Money is perhaps Amis's most exemplary postmodern novel, addressing the tenuous distinction between reality and make-believe, high culture and low culture, as well as the uncertainty about gender roles and the place of women in contemporary society.
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Money also questions the nature of free will in postmodern society, evidenced in Self's pathological suspicion that he is being manipulated by forces that he cannot apprehend. This issue is further complicated by the appearance in the book of Martin Amis, the writer Self hires to work on his screenplay.
Amis the character's musings about the relationship between the author and the characters he creates represents the kind of self-reflexivity and the blurring of the distinction between art and life that define postmodern writing. Keith Talent, the protagonist of London Fields , is still more at home in a west London pub than Self and has an equally well-developed taste for the bad. The opening statement "Keith Talent was a bad guy … " offers an apparently incontrovertible condemnation of his horrible taste for playing darts, more horrible appetite for video pornography, and completely dreadful habit of saying "Cheers!
But Keith, repulsive though he is, is to be upstaged in the novel, both by its postmodern femme fatale Nicola Six and by the grander evil of the narrator Samson Young, whom she lures into being the instrument of her planned self-destruction. In some ways, London Fields is a recasting of some of the ideas in Other People according to the lessons learned in writing Money. It has an undercurrent — new since Amis's post-nuclear stories Einstein's Monsters — of global crisis and eco-consciousness.
We are invited to "imagine the atomic cloud as an inverted phallus and Nicola's loins as ground zero. The Jewish-American background of the narrator of London Fields described in the novel's racy idiolect as a "four-wheel Sherman" may have anticipated the theme of Time's Arrow , whose title had been a provisional title for the previous book.
AMIS, Martin (Louis)
Also reminiscent of the two previous books is Amis's determination to take on the most enormous of the social issues of the 20th century: here it is the Nazi Holocaust and its aftermath. Time's Arrow is Amis's most ambitious technical achievement to date and is, indeed, one of the most extraordinary narrative experiments in existence, almost unprecedented outside of the science fiction of Philip K. The novel is written in reverse time, tracing a typical American suburban scene of the present back to the concentration camp Auschwitz, where its narrator, Odilo Unverdorben, has been an official.
Some readers have complained that the cleverness and showiness of the time experiment detracts from the seriousness of the subject, but this need not be so. Read in the tradition of an experimental and historically traumatized novel like Kurt Vonnegut 's Slaughterhouse Five or else backed-up by the critiques of rationalist intellectual constructions provided by postmodernist theoreticians like Theodor Adorno, the disturbances created by the novel's form and by its horrific subject matter hang nightmarishly together.
If Time's Arrow might have led us to expect a development away from the brilliant satire of the early novels towards a more sober and mature seriousness in Amis's work, then The Information must represent something of a disappointment. It is a book that euphorically condemns middle-age but which is surely itself written out of a deeply repressed fear of aging and its disillusionments.
In The Information, Amis turns his gaze toward a kind of year-old alter ego called Richard Tull — a novelist who is quite pathetically unsuccessful and who ekes out a modicum of literary income and of self-respect from the occasional review.
For the most part, it must be said, Amis's reviewers took this chastening portrait of their craft in fairly good part. While Tull vegetates in the ruins of his ego and ambition, his arch rival Gwyn Barry strides from success to success. Only further disappointments greet Tull, and what the novel calls "the information" is his growing sense of vacuity and despair. Amis is quite relentlessly brilliant here, once again, on the compromises to and erosions of literary ambition that are brought on by domesticity and by the loss of a sentimentally cherished but unattainable ideal.
Tull is, in some ways, the most fully fleshed, and the most convincing of all of Amis's postmodern grotesques, and he would quite probably have been the most congenial if the author had once relaxed and allowed him to peep out from beneath the high steel-capped heels of his satire.
Neither he, nor the author, seem to contemplate for a moment the redeeming possibility that literary success is neither the only nor the absolute in human values; perhaps much in postmodern culture would lead us to the same conclusion. Night Train , Amis's ninth and most recent novel, was published in to mixed reviews, criticized by some for sparseness of style and, as John Updike has said, for its "post-human" quality.
Night Train is the story of the jaded, tough-talking female detective Mike Hoolihan whose pointed unsentimentality is shaken by the apparent suicide of her boss's daughter Jennifer, whose grisly death seems incongruous with her charmed life. At her boss's request, Mike undertakes to find Jennifer's killer, as it seems unlikely that her death would have been self-inflicted in light of her personal and professional successes, as well as her apparent optimism and benignity. Mike's investigation yields some startling revelations about her own identity and, more generally, about the development of the female identity in the postmodern world, a theme that is pervasive in much of Amis's work.
Perhaps more significantly, Night Train explores the issue of motive in postmodernity, another theme important to Amis's work. In typical Amis fashion, Night Train bucks the conventions of genre, offering a detective story in which motive itself becomes the suspect. Nabokov and Other Excursions. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. October 8, Retrieved October 08, from Encyclopedia.
Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. Home —London, England, and Uruguay. E ditorial assistant, Times Literary Supplement, , fiction and poetry editor, ; New Statesman, assistant literary editor, , literary editor, ; first novel, The Rachel Papers, published by J.
Contributor to anthologies and to numerous periodicals. The son of novelist Kingsley Amis , he has produced a string of postmodern novels and strongly opinionated essays since his career began, which have earned him a reputation as the quintes-sential English malcontent. In , his tenth novel, House of Meetings, was published to glowing reviews in the British press, which hailed it as a return to his earlier, more succinct prose and plotting style. Amis was born on August 25, , in Oxford, England, 12 months and ten days after the birth of his older brother, Philip.
The Amis parents had met at Oxford when Kingsley was working on his degree and fell in love with art student Hilary Ann Bard-well; they married in when she became pregnant with Philip.
A sister, Sally, was born in Its plot centers on the dejected, disillusioned title char acter, a lecturer at a lesser university whose career prospects hinge upon his cultivating a good relationship with his mentor. The snobbish professor and his music-loving family were allegedly modeled after the Bardwell clan.
He was a disciplined writer, however, and his son recalled the household rules in an interview with Lewis Burke Frumkes of Writer magazine.
The family moved to New Jersey when Kingsley taught at Princeton University for a year, where the eight-year-old Amis was ridiculed when he wore shorts to school on the first day. Back in London, he attended a grammar school in South Kensington, then a boarding school, where he showed himself to be entirely uninterested in much beyond drugs and comic books. Cape, in The tale of a rakish young man hoping to enter Oxford on a scholarship but distracted by the two young women with whom he is romantically involved, The Rachel Papers earned an unfavorable comparison to J.
His first work of nonfiction was Invasion of the Space Invaders, a tome with an introduction by film-maker Stephen Spielberg.
Its essays discussed films, contemporary politics, and the current video-game craze. It is a place defined by Swiftian excess and metropolitan satire, a place where variously shabby characters partake of lust and violence and guilt in hopes of being allowed a second chance.
Money: A Suicide Note was published by J.
Its central character is an American writer, ill with cancer, who moves to London as the world teeters on the brink of both the millennium and impending nuclear disaster. This was the first work of his to be nominated for the Booker Prize. In the early s, the British press seemed to turn on Amis. Part of the disenchantment came after stories surfaced that he left his wife of several years and their two young sons for another woman, and then famously ditched his British literary agent of 23 years, Pat Kavanagh, for the American agent Andrew Wylie.
The press derided Amis as ungentlemanly in the kinder reports, and un-English in the vitriolic screeds. Furthermore, much ink was given over to the fact that Amis had used some of the advance money to have major cosmetic dental work done, and had it done by an American dentist, too. We are entitled to express concern that a brilliant career has come to this: the overpriced sale of secondhand shoddy.
Amis summed up his literary relationship with his father in an interview with Charles McGrath in the New York Times in Nabokov and Other Excursions and a memoir, Experience. In the latter work, Amis wrote of meeting a daughter he had never known until the mids, when she was 19 years old. Having moved back to London with his family in after two and a half years in Uruguay, he was nearing the age of 60 and untroubled by the attacks he regularly received in the British press. Dead Babies, J.
Cape, The younger Amis, who turned from literary journalism to fiction, invites comparison with his father through his choice of career and style. Often writing satire so bitterly sardonic that it goes far beyond the caustic comedy of his father's fiction, he has exposed the darker aspects of contemporary English society in his novels. His short-story collections include Heavy Water and Other Stories The novel House of Meetings also treats similar themes—the Soviet Gulag and Stalinist atrocities.
He explores the Holocaust in two novels: Time's Arrow , the story of a Nazi concentration camp doctor told in reverse chronological order, and The Zone of Interest , which, set in Auschwitz, treats intimacy, the banality of evil, and the horrors of the Nazi genocide. His collection of essays and stories, The Second Plane September 11 , is collectively a polemic that condemns Islamic fundamentalism and Islamist terrorism. View all. Events Podcasts Apps.
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