Friday, January 18, 2008

Atta Boy

Will I read the new Martin Amis? Of course I will, and of course it will have me furrowing my brow and nibbling at my lip as I try to figure out where it all went wrong. The thing is, no matter how wrong it gets, I can't help but read Amis's stuff. Even the infamous Mohammed Atta story, included in The Second Plane (although Atta himself was in the first plane), has a compulsive quality to it. He is, if I may slip for a moment into blurbese, incapable of writing a dull sentence.

There's a post at the Guardian blog pointing out Amis's prior form when it comes to writing about/obsessing over apocalyptic themes, namely the 1987 short story collection Einstein's Monsters. I'm inclined to have another look at that book, as in my memory it exists as a kind of pale spectre of disappointment. According to the Guardian post, the "stories in Einstein's Monsters are graphic, repulsive and compulsive: time becomes a fatal disease, a huge dog with human-dissolving saliva attacks a village of mutated humans..." Which sounds a lot cooler and scarier than I remember.

If you can believe it, the Guardian post is written by somebody named Chas Newkey-Burden. I can't decide if that is Amisian or positively Nabokovian!

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For further thoughts on Amis, see this ever-so-wittily-titled post. There's also this post, which notes Mart's physical resemblance to a Hollywood bad guy.

3 comments:

ARK said...

Nodding so firmly, and in such agreement, that it occurred to me that your post on Amis almost could've been my own.

Can't shake Tibor Fischer's simile in his review of Amis' Yellow Dog some years back: of a fave uncle caught masturbating in a schoolyard.

But I prefer your take over Fischer's write-off. Amis is constitutionally incapable of writing a boring phrase (even if they do often reek of the lamp).

I'll crack open the next Amis in the full hope (or naive expectation) of reading the next London Fields or Information. If it falls short, I'll lapse into denial and return to my Eagleton bull's-eyed dart board...

Mark Thwaite said...

Have always thought him a wretchedly bad writer myself, hugely overrated in every respect. However, his recent irresponsible dive to the Right along with his old pal Hitchens, has put him entirely beyond the pale for me.

Notabene said...

Amis can turn a phrase, and make me laugh like few others. This puts him in the (okay my) pantheon for good, regardless of where his politics or musings take him. Here he is on God going out with Nicola Six: "He had slept with her once, and once only: she did that to show Him what he would be missing for ever and ever. In bed, Nicola had made him do the act of doubledarkness: the doublebeast with only one back. Then never again. God cried on the street outside her apartment. He telephoned and telepathized. He followed her everywhere. His gaze imparting that fancy blue nimbus. God got Shakespeare and Dante working as a team to write her poems…"