AMIS, Martin (born 1949) British novelist
The novels of Amis fils are icily satirical, cold with rage at the physical and moral sleaziness of the human race. His characters’ preoccupations are sex, drugs, money and success, and they are tormented by failure to win, or keep, all four. Ronald Firbank and F. Scott Fitzgerald found similar prancing emptiness in the ‘gay young things’ of the 1920s. Amis matches those writers’ bilious wit and parades his dazzlingly inventive prose style in his pages but adds a pungent view of his own: that the entire generation born after the creation of nuclear weapons is maimed beyond cure, a race of psychotic moral mutants. Few contemporary writers treat such repulsive subject matter so dazzlingly. Amis’s novels are compulsively nasty, superbly hard to like.
This is the ‘suicide note’ of an obese, deranged and despairing film director, stumbling through a New York inferno of fast food, pornography, violence and moronic greed. He is a lunatic in a world that has gone mad; when he opens his mouth to scream, his voice is drowned in the megametropolitan carnival, the dance of death that is (for Amis, at least) contemporary America. Amis’s other novels are The Rachel Papers, Dead Babies, Other People, Success, Time’s Arrow, The Information, Night Train and Yellow Dog. The Moronic Inferno is a bilious travelogue about the USA, a marvellously raw, non-fiction counterpart to Money. Einstein’s Monsters and Heavy Water contain short stories. Experience is a remarkable memoir, particularly affecting and moving (not words usually applied to Amis’s work) in its portrait of his relationship with his father, Kingsley Amis. War Against Cliché is a collection from thirty years of literary journalism. Koba the Dread is a curious and not very successful work of non-fiction in which an appalled account of Stalin’s career is mingled with Amis’s ongoing debate with his late father.
Thematically & Stylistically Similar Books for Further Reading:
London Fields (about a man in apocalypse-hurtling 1999 London trying to write a novel about a woman trying to arrange her murder by a slob of a man fantasizing about winning the world darts championship).
Terence Blacker, Fixx;
Iain Banks, The Wasp Factory;
Madison Smartt Bell, The Year of Silence;
Saul Bellow, Mr Sammler’s Planet;
Jay McInerney, Model Behaviour;
Will Self, My Idea of Fun;
Vladimir Nabokov, Despair.
Source Credits: Nick Rennison, Good Reading Guide: Discover Your Next Great Read, Bloomsbury Publishing, Seventh Edition