Monday 22 May 2023

Martin Amis R.I.P.

So, Martin Amis… 

Can’t say he was my favourite of the British batch which came to prominence in the 1980s: I’d rate Rushdie, Barnes, McEwan all higher. He certainly wasn’t in the same league as his avowed heroes and influences, Nabokov and Bellow. That was just trying to establish greatness by association. Literature isn’t just about knowing and deploying dictionary words, although it can help. But it was his snobby public schoolboy attitudes that marred much of his work, and was really off-putting. Working class characters (e.g. Keith Talent) exist only as figures of fun and the butt of jokes. Football fans at a match he attends ‘look like crisps’. Granted, aspirational middle class characters are satirised too – but with them, it’s an inside job, talking across rather than talking down, much less condescending and more 'empathetic' - as they say nowadays. But that’s the English class system for you. Time’s Arrow is the best of his novels of those I’ve read. However, as with many novelists, I much prefer reading his journalism and essays rather than his fiction. It is as a social commentator, and as an explorer of his own consciousness, that I would suggest he will be best remembered. R.I.P.