Amis, Martin 1949–
Amis, Martin 1949–
(Martin Louis Amis)
PERSONAL: Born August 25, 1949, in Oxford, England; son of Kingsley William (a writer) and Hilary (Bardwell) Amis; married Antonia Phillips, 1984 (di-vorced); married Isabel Fonseca, 1998; children: two sons and two daughters. Education: Exeter College, Oxford, B.A. (English; with honors), 1971.
ADDRESSES: Agent—The Wylie Agency, 250 West 57th St., Ste. 2114, New York, NY 10107.
CAREER: Novelist and essayist. Times Literary Supplement, London, editorial assistant, 1972–75, fiction and poetry editor, 1974; New Statesman, London, assistant literary editor, 1975–77, literary editor, 1977–79; writer, 1980–; Observer (London), special writer, 1980–. Actor in the film A High Wind in Jamaica, 1965.
AWARDS, HONORS: Somerset Maugham Award, National Book League, 1974, for The Rachel Papers; James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography, 2000, for Experience; National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism category, 2001, for The War Against Cliché: Essays and Reviews, 1971–2000.
The Rachel Papers (novel), J. Cape (London, England), 1973, Knopf (New York, NY), 1974.
Dead Babies (novel), J. Cape (London, England), 1975, published as Dark Secrets, Panther, 1977.
(With others) My Oxford, edited and introduced by Ann Thwaite, Robson Books (London), 1977, revised edition, 1986.
Success (novel), J. Cape (London, England), 1978.
(Contributor) Caroline Hobhouse, editor, Winter's Tales 25, Macmillan (London), 1979, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1980.
Other People: A Mystery Story (novel), J. Cape (London, England), 1981.
Money: A Suicide Note (novel), J. Cape (London, England), 1984, Viking, 1985.
London Fields (novel), J. Cape (London, England), 1989.
Time's Arrow; or, the Nature of the Offence, Harmony (New York, NY), 1991.
The Information (novel), Harmony (New York, NY), 1995.
Night Train (novel), Harmony (New York, NY), 1998.
Heavy Water and Other Stories, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Yellow Dog, Miramax (New York, NY), 2003.
Vintage Amis (various past writings and excerpts and new short story), Vintage (New York, NY), 2004.
Invasion of the Space Invaders (autobiographical), with an introduction by Stephen Spielberg, Hutchinson (London, England), 1982.
The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America (articles, reviews and interviews), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1986.
Einstein's Monsters (essay and short stories), Harmony (New York, NY), 1987.
Visiting Mrs. Nabokov and Other Excursions (essays), J. Cape (London, England), 1993, Harmony (New York, NY), 1994.
Experience (memoirs), Talk Miramax (New York, NY), 2000.
The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews, 1971–2000, J. Cape (London, England), 2001.
Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million, Miramax/Talk Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Also author of screenplays Mixed Doubles, 1979, and Saturn 3, 1980. Contributor of short stories to Encounter, Penthouse, Granta 13, London Review of Books, and Literary Review. Contributor of articles and reviews to numerous periodicals, including Times Literary Supplement, Observer, New Statesman, New York Times, and Sunday Telegraph.
SIDELIGHTS: With the publication of The Rachel Papers at age twenty-four, Martin Amis established himself as one of the leading British writers of the late-twentieth century. Regularly compared to works by writers such as Vladimir Nabokov and Saul Bellow, Amis's books are often filled with wordplay and are self-conscious works of fiction. In fact, John Greenya reported in the Detroit News that Amis was "called by one critic 'the nearest thing to a Nabokov that the punk generation has to show.'" The reason, noted Charles Champlin in the Los Angeles Times, is that Amis is "a writer with what can only be called a furious command of words, a social commentator of lethal invention and savage wit." Bellow himself compared Amis's stylistic skills to Gustave Flaubert and James Joyce in a New York Times Magazine profile. Amis's biting, yet moralistic satire has also drawn comparisons to the work of Jonathan Swift and Angus Wilson. Margaret Drabble suggested in the New York Times Book Review "that Amis is so horrified by the world he sees in the process of formation that he feels compelled to warn us all about it."
Inevitably, Amis has also been compared to his father, Kingsley Amis, the late British comic novelist of the post-World War II generation. "Both father and son write of intellectual phonies and pretenders, assorted degenerates and a rotted-out youth in an England of depraved popular culture and not the slightest social or moral structure," wrote Richard Eder in the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Eder continued that, like his father, "Martin Amis is dark, satirical and gifted with irascibility. But what we get under the satire is not a sense of protest but of contempt." Blake Morrison noted in the Times Literary Supplement that Amis takes his satire to another level of nastiness, making it "the comedy of the grotesque." In many ways, Amis's works occupy a place well beyond the imposing shadow of his father's works.
In 1973 Amis entered the British literary scene with The Rachel Papers, a novel that "caused a stir in Britain—and, it may be, a dreadful thrill of excitement at what may by some be regarded as the spectacle of a crusadingly nasty adolescent unburdening himself in print," said Karl Miller in the New York Review of Books. In the New Leader, Pearl K. Bell elaborated: "The Rachel Papers offers a candid, groin-level view of teen-age sex, circa 1970, in Swinging Britain. Amis' hero, Charles Highway, is no slouch at telling us exactly what-he-did-and-then-she-did. But since he is also a precocious and totally self-absorbed intellectual, this indefatigable swordsman is more interested in what he thought, pretended, felt, and above all what he wrote in his journal about his sexual happenings, than he is in the act itself." Assessments of the novel's faults take up limited space in reviews that recognize Amis's uncannily mature comic talent. Clive Jordan, for instance, remarked in Encounter that "Amis directs a determined, dead-pan stare at his chosen patch of the lush teenage jungle, teeming with characters who are about as appealing as bacilli on a face flannel, described with the detached, excessively detailed physicality common to satirists down the ages. What holds the attention are not these limited characters, but the author's verbally inventive scrutiny of them." Many U.S. readers first became aware of Amis when his novel The Rachel Papers was shown to have been plagiarized by U.S. novelist Jacob Epstein in Epstein's Wild Oats.
Amis's novel Success is the "first of three fictions, a series of turmoils, in which orphan and double meet," observed Karl Miller in Doubles: Studies in Literary History. Terry Service, bereft of his father—a man who murdered his own wife and baby daughter—sets himself against his upper-class foster brother Gregory Riding. As they begin with opposite fortunes, so they end, Gregory having fallen from what seemed to be a charmed position of wealth and sexual opportunity, Terry rising to a higher level of success. "At the crossing-point of their two lives lies the smashed body of Ursula, Gregory's sister, successful at the second attempt in a suicide nurtured in an incestuous childhood with Gregory, and triggered by a more recent relationship with Terry," Neil Hepburn noted in the Listener.
To Wolcott, Success is "a doomsday reverie, in which Terry represents the brutal, heartless spirit of Urban Apocalypse," while Miller called it a "comedy of orphan malice and adolescent trauma." "The malice these brothers level at women is nearly equal to their hatred of themselves," Jay Parini wrote in the New York Times Book Review. Jonathan Yardley, writing in the Washington Post, guessed that Amis means to express his contempt for both young men.
A profusion of doubles complicates Amis's second turmoil, Other People: A Mystery Story. Mary Lamb, an amnesiac, faintly recalls her past as bad girl Amy Hide, who nearly died after being attacked by a sadistic psychopath. Two voices tell her story; its ending suggests a return to the beginning for a second take. Mary's social worker may be sincere, or may be her abductor, setting her up for more abuse. Numerous ambiguities throughout the book make the mystery hard to solve, according to some reviewers, while others, like Miller, felt that "its obscurities may be considered a necessary element." Amis provides the answer to this long riddle in literary allusions too subtle for some readers to decipher, but Encounter contributor Alan Brownjohn recognized the voice of Amis throughout, musing on his own godlike power to manipulate his characters. When read this way, Other People appears to be an analysis of the process of making fiction. Extending the analogy, Charles Nichol declared in the Saturday Review, "Not all readers will agree with Martin Amis that writing a novel is necessarily a sado-masochistic process, but the force and brilliance of his speculation are undeniable."
Amis elicits sympathy for another unlikely character in Money: A Suicide Note. Narrator John Self lost his mother when he was seven years of age and later received a bill from his father to cover the cost of his upbringing. Obsessed with money and overcome by his appetites, Self, said John Gross in the New York Times, "embodies … just about everything your mother told you not to play with." Yardley elaborated in the Washington Post that Money "is one long drinking bout, interrupted only briefly by a period of relative sobriety; it contains incessant sexual activity, much of it onanistic; it has a generous supply of sordid language …; and it has an unkind word for just about every race, creed or nationality known to exist." According to Time reviewer R.Z. Sheppard, Self demonstrates that "a culture geared to profit from the immediate gratification of egos and nerve endings is not a culture at all, but an addiction. As an addict, he discovers that bad habits and ignorance are the bars of self-imprisonment." Listener contributor Angela Huth deemed Money "a grim book; a black study of the humiliations and degradations of an alcoholic, a warning of the corruptibility of money and the emptiness of a life with no culture to fall back on." In any other novel, Self's indecencies might cause offense, said Yardley, but in this case, Amis "has created a central character of consummate vulgarity and irresistible charm."
The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America shows the same fascinated disdain Amis holds for U.S. culture through essays, reviews, and interviews about and with American writers. Reviewers mentioned the negative slant of these pieces, most of which first appeared in the London Observer. London Times reviewer Fiona MacCarthy suggested that Amis "is answering some devastating inner urge to reach out and describe in minute detail the worst side of America, the false, silly, double-thinking land of violence, vulgarity, of grid-lock and decay. He ignores have-a-nice-day America completely. Almost all his cast of characters have absolutely dreadful days. At best, Truman Capote in the grip of a grand hangover." Perhaps anticipating charges of anti-Americanism, Amis claims in the introduction to his book that the cultural ailment diagnosed in The Moronic Inferno is not "a peculiarly American condition. It is global and perhaps eternal." His America is "primarily a metaphor … for mass, gross, ever-distracting human infamy."
In Einstein's Monsters, a collection of short stories centered on the danger of a nuclear holocaust, Amis continues his "attack on the apocalyptic folly of the age," as Hepburn once called it. "In addition to high verbal energy and flashes of satiric genius, the stories hum with resentment and loathing of a man who fears for his natural patrimony, the earth, the sky and time itself," Sheppard wrote in a Time review. Bruce Cook, writing in the Washington Post Book World, commented on the author's emotional intensity: "Usually a writer with a cool, commanding manner (utterly unflappable in … The Moronic Inferno) he comes unglued before us here, attributing his high excitement over the nuclear issue to his impending fatherhood and to a relatively late reading of Jonathan Schell's The Fate of the Earth." Speaking to John Blades in the Chicago Tribune, Amis said Schell's book helped him identify the previously felt but unnamed concern that distinguishes his generation from all others: "We are at the evolutionary crisis point, it seems to me. We're in a new moral universe. We can unmake the world. Extinction is a possibility." He feels that rabid consumerism and many other "present-day peculiarities have to do with this damaged set of time we have. We don't think into the future. People behave as if there were no future." Meanwhile, Amis maintains in the volume's opening essay, the generation that invented and proliferated the A-bomb (or "Z-bomb," in his view) does not give the matter much thought. "The argument is really with our fathers," he told Ruth Pollack Coughlin of the Detroit News. "But it's also about our children. And all the unborn children."
Amis's London Fields is "a mordant allegory of fin de millenaire entropy in the post-Thatcherite toilet" of late 1990s Great Britain, according to Graham Fuller in the Village Voice. The London of this novel … is heading toward some undefined but seemingly inevitable apocalypse. Amis's characters are all headed toward a more personal apocalypse. Nicola Six is a beautiful, self-destructive, thirty-four-year-old woman who, having foreseen that she will be murdered on her thirty-fifth birthday, sets out to be killed on her own terms. She lures two married men, Keith and Guy, into a bizarre sex triangle. Keith is a coarse pub regular with no morals, but with the ambition to be a champion at darts. Guy is a handsome, wealthy British gentleman. One of these two men will kill Nicola; the other will be taken along for a ride. A third man, Sam, a Jewish-American writer who is dying of an incurable disease, is attracted to the triangle for its story value.
As a novel, London Fields received mixed critical attention. For some, Amis was to be commended for capturing a decaying world on the edge of destruction and raising it up as a mirror to our own times. "London Fields is a virtuoso depiction of a wild and lustful society," commented Bette Pesetsky in the New York Times Book Review. "In an age of attenuated fiction, this is a large book of comic and satirical invention." According to Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post Book World, "Amis plunges like Dickens reincarnate into the life of the city, wallowing in its messiness and nastiness and desperation." Yet, as Martyn Harris suggested in New Statesman and Society, in his preoccupation with creating a setting and scenes of decay and decadence, the author slights some of the other elements of his novel: "Amis isn't interested in character, plot, motivation…. In denying motive Amis denies his characters the capacity for change, which in turn rules out the manipulation of reader sympathy—the strongest lever in fiction." Harris continued, "Instead of character the book offers chronocentrism—the conceit that your own age is more special, more scary, more apocalyptic than any other."
The Information reflects a change in Amis's perspective as a writer. It is a novel about two middle-aged friends and how their careers, each headed in a different direction, affect them and their friendship. Richard Tull and Gwyn Barry are middle-aged writers. In addition to looking at their stage of life, the book is also about how writers react to success and failure. As Gail Caldwell wrote in a Boston Globe review, "The Information is a novel about literary envy, the kind that most writers swear isn't their own affliction, though they all seem to know someone else who's succumbed. It is a frighteningly funny, erudite and mostly compelling novel, dragging you along through London's rough side and Tull's sewers and staircases of consciousness until you beg for mercy. Tull will go to any length, almost, to torment his rival." This literary battle, argued Vanity Fair contributor Michael Shnayerson, is at the novel's core: "The Information lampoons a publishing world driven by vacuous best-sellers and foolish prizes; for all the grim fun it makes of male midlife confusion, the literary crisis is real, Amis is saying, and must be met."
In the novel failing author Tull has written two experimental novels which received only an inkling of critical attention, while his four more-recent works remain unpublished. His most recent work places such demands on its readers that the few who have attempted it have been rendered physically ill. Barry, on the other hand, has of late achieved fame, wealth, and critical acclaim with a best-selling novel. Tull does not take his friend's good fortune well. In fact, he begins to plot Barry's downfall. Through a variety of far-fetched schemes, Tull attempts to destroy Barry's career, his marriage, and his life. Caldwell wrote that Amis's main character is "an intelligence of enough dimension and humanity, however soiled, to make us stay for the whole performance. Richard Tull is smart, he is demented, sometimes he is even deeper than his depression…. His sullied passion is what fuels him, and the wicked mind that spawned him is what fuels" The Information.
The Information "drags a bit around the middle," commented Christopher Buckley in the New York Times Book Review, "but you're never out of reach of a sparkly phrase, stiletto metaphor or drop-dead insight into the human condition. And there is the humor; Mr. Amis goes where other humorists fear to tread." "The Information is quite good," wrote Washington Post Book World contributor David Nicholson. "There is, however, a wonderful sidesplitting smaller book trapped inside it. The Information would have been far better had Amis allowed it to come out." New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani found in the novel "Amis's own idiosyncratic vision and his ability to articulate that vision in wonderfully edgy, street-smart prose." Kakutani suggested that Amis "has written just the sort of novel his bumbling hero dreams in vain of writing: an uncompromising and highly ambitious novel that should also be a big popular hit."
For some reviewers, the strength of The Information went beyond its style and humor. Kakutani also contended that the novel "marks a giant leap forward in Mr. Amis's career. Here, in a tale of middle-aged angst and literary desperation, all the themes and stylistic experiments of Mr. Amis's earlier fiction come together in a symphonic whole." Amis's "Nabokovian devices are not only employed to frame the story of a failed novelist," added Kakutani, "but are also cunningly used to open out his hilarious tale of envy and revenge into a glittering meditation on the nervous interface between the real world and the world of art." Chris Heath also saw the book in a larger context. In Details he noted, "Only in the smallest way is The Information about what happens when Richard Tull and Gwyn Barry start scheming around each other. It's about messier, more troubling matters: competitiveness and jealousy and vanity, the vacuum of middle age, the need to be remembered, the ways we corrupt innocence. It is also, in all its side alleys, simply about describing the modern world in all its vain, grotesque minutiae." Yardley called Amis "a force unto himself among those of his generation now writing fiction in English; there is, quite simply, no one else like him."
Reviewed in the New York Times Book Review by Patrick McGrath, Night Train refers to suicide as a one-way train ride "speeding your way to darkness." Comparing this work to earlier novels such as Money and London Fields, McGrath believed that in his 1998 book Amis "probes deep into the question of human motivation," a refinement of his views on suicide. In Night Train the narrator is "tough and battered" female cop Mike Hoolihan, who is called in to investigate the apparent suicide of Jennifer Rockwell, the daughter of a former boss. Dan DeLuca in the Philadelphia Inquirer considered Night Train a "disappointing" novel, concluding, "By the end … we may know who killed Jennifer Rockwell, but we still don't know who she is, why she died, or why we should care." On the other hand, Mike Hanna in the Denver Post viewed the novel more favorably, writing that people like Rockwell "conceal their problems so well that no one notices until it is too late."
Amis's novel Yellow Dog delves into sex, violence, gender, and the media via the story of Xan Meo. An ideal husband, Meo suffers a serious head injury that transforms him into an abusive, primitive man filled with rage and uncontrollable lust. In the novelist's view, this primitive outlook on life and sex exists just beneath the surface of all men, and Meo is not the only example Amis provides to make his point. His satiric, comic novel includes other Jekyll-and-Hyde characters which Xan meets throughout the course of his uncivilized adventures: Clint Smoker, a tabloid journalist, writes about illicit sex and outrageous scandal, while the king of England has a Chinese mistress and works to keep a pornographic video of his fifteen-year-old daughter off the Internet. In an interview with Kimberly Cutter for Women's Wear Daily Amis noted, "I think the real duty of a novelist is to interpret how the world feels at a particular point. And that's what I've done here."
Characteristically, Yellow Dog met with a wide variety of responses from reviewers. Nation contributor Keith Gessen wrote that the novel features "a rogues' gallery of disappointing predictability" and contended that the second half of the novel falls apart. Sean McCann, writing in Book, wrote that the second part of the novel "takes a header into a series of contrived plot devices," although Library Journal contributor David Hellman commented that "All of these disparate plots connect in an intelligent and hilarious fashion." Many reviewers also found Yellow Dog's structure awkward and convoluted and without a satisfying conclusion. Writing in Time, Lev Grossman noted, "It tries to be structurally clever, but several of its strands either get tangled up with another or fail to tangle up properly." Nevertheless, Grossman added, "through it all one feels that Amis writes the way he does not to show that he can, but because what he has to say is just too important for prose that is less than painfully acerbic, relentlessly intelligent, and pitilessly funny." Donna Seaman, writing in Booklist, commented of Yellow Dog that, "A sloppy, maddening, hilarious, and oddly touching amalgam of Evelyn Waugh and John Waters, Amis' wicked burlesque evinces his disgust with the herd mentality and surprisingly tender regard for women." While George Walden, writing in New Statesman, noted that the novel has some problems, including Amis's "obtrusive style," the critic concluded: "When Amis is really swinging, who cares about the obtrusion?"
Published five years after the death of his father, the memoir Experience focuses not only on the Kingsley-Martin relationship, but also on the younger Amis's connections with relatives, spouses, children, friends, and associates. Many topics get his attention, from the tragic examination of the grisly murder of his cousin to the bemusing British press's apparent fascination with Amis's lengthy and expensive dental work.
Experience takes a non-linear view of the author's life. "One moment he's six, the next he's 26," an Economist review quipped. "Here his parents are divorced, an article later married. The point is the parallels and connections. His book is cross-hatched with them, running across from fathers to sons and back; between marriages and books, between books and books, between births and deaths." The best part of the memoir, continued the critic, "is Kingsley Amis, or rather Martin-and-Kingsley Amis." The author "captures his father's pettiness and phobias, his searing intelligence and wit, his chaste erotic dreams" about Queen Elizabeth II, noted National Review critic Joyce Hackett. At the same time, Hackett felt "his asides to the un-famous, especially the women in his life, fall utterly flat."
As the author reveals the complex bond between two generations of fiery writers, the son's understanding of his father, even in the elder man's failing health, "comes across movingly," said the Economist critic. To the critic, Amis's look at his father's last days in the hospital "are the most sustained, the least 'stop-go' in the book." Indeed, in his portrayals of his father, mother, sister, and other close family members, the reviewer concluded, "Martin Amis, the bad boy, turns out to be an exemplary family man."
In two separate New York Times reviews, John Leonard and Michiko Kakutani took different views of Amis's recollections. On the negative side, Leonard labeled Experience "a portmanteau of personal history, ancestor worship and promiscuous opinionizing,… a piñata of literary gossip that Amis beats with a stick, causing many names to drop." Kakutani had fewer such reservations, calling Experience "remarkable" as a coming-of-age chronicle, as well as the author's "most fully realized book yet—a book that fuses his humor, intellect and daring with a new gravitas and warmth, a book that stands, at once, as a loving tribute to his father and as a fulfillment of his own abundant talents as a writer."
In addition to his fiction and general essays, Amis has worked as a literary critic. Almost three decades of reviews, as well as essays ranging from poker and chess to the sexual allure of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, are collected in the The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews, 1971–2000. Much of Amis's critical literary focus is reflected in the book's title. Amis places a heavy emphasis on style and berates cliché; even so, for Amis cliché means more than style. As noted by a contributor to the Economist, "Cliché, he holds, is not just fossilized language, it is any sort of stock response—emotional, political or literary. It is, in short, thoughtlessness, and the avoidance of cliché is therefore not just a requirement for a stylist, but a duty for the moralist." Robert L. Kelly, writing in the Library Journal, noted, "His evaluations are lively, scholarly, and, on rare, occasion, numbing—though probably less so for those few who know as much about literature as Amis." Booklist contributor Donna Seaman called the collection "a great feast for serious readers." Writing in World Literature Today, William Hutchings summarized, "The War against Cliché will survive repeated readings well."
In Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million Amis continues in the nonfiction mode as he ponders the life and the atrocities of the late Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and recalls his own father's affiliation with communism in the 1930s. Stalin exterminated millions of people, massacring those he believed to be dissidents. Amis writes in length about the life of "Koba," the nickname given to Stalin and taken from a Robin Hood-like hero in a Russian folk tale. The core of the book focuses on the many horrors Stalin oversaw as leader of the former Soviet Union. Amis also devotes considerable time to pondering why his father, like many other intellectuals, was enamored with communism when, says Amis, it became relatively clear early on that Soviet-style communism had evolved into a murderous regime. According to Peter Wilby in the New Statesman, Amis addresses another bothersome question: "And why, even now, are so many on the left reluctant to acknowledge how flawed and monstrous it was?" In trying to answer this question, Amis also delves into why there appears to be less stigma or personal remorse expressed regarding those associated with Stalin and the KGB than those who supported Hitler and the Nazis. This discrepancy led to the book's subtitle Laughter and the Twenty Million, by which Amis means that it has been possible for many to joke about Stalin and the USSR but never about Hitler and the Holocaust.
Several reviewers noted that Amis's treatise on Stalin contains factual errors, such as mistakenly identifying Ivan the IV as the first Russian leader to take the title czar when it was Ivan the III. A contributor to Bookseller noted, however, that such mistakes are less important because the book is not really a work of history. "Koba the Dread is a historical mediation, avowedly using secondary sources," the contributor noted. "Historical accuracy is not Mr. Amis' primary concern; and nor, one may guess, was it that of his editor, who would have been occupied largely with the literary quality of the work." As for Amis's prose, David Pryce-Jones wrote in Commentary, "Amis also has his own way of postponing the truth, in his case by means of overblown language. To speak, for example, of the 'glandular sensuality' of Stalin's malevolence, or to describe Stalin as a 'bellowed rebuttal' of some Marxist thesis, is to blur meaning." Writing in Maclean's, Sue Ferguson had a more favorable view of Amis's style, commenting, "What Amis brings to the subject is a rambling prose that, at points, captures in creative, penetrating ways the sheer immensity of Stalin's crimes." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that many readers may not be interested in the author's "private quarrels, but in the bulk of the book he relates passionately a story that needs to be told." In a review in Library Journal, Robert H. Johnston called the book "passionate and intensely personal" and also noted that "it will appeal to admirers of Amis's literary panache."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Amis, Martin, Experience, Talk Miramax (New York, NY), 2000.
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 4, 1975, Volume 9, 1978, Volume 38, 1987, Volume 62, 1992.
Dern, John A., Martians, Monsters, and Madonna: Fiction and Form in the World of Martin Amis, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 1999.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 14: British Novelists since 1960, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1983.
Diedrick, James, Understanding Martin Amis, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 1995.
Miller, Karl, Doubles: Studies in Literary History, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1985.
American Spectator, May, 1987.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 4, 1990, p. N8.
Book, November-December 2003, Sean McCann, review of Yellow Dog, p. 69.
Booklist, January 15, 1994, p. 894; January 1, 1999, Jim O'Laughlin, review of Heavy Water and Other Stories, p. 827; June 1, 2000, Brad Hooper, review of Experience, p. 1795; November 15, 2001, Donna Seaman, review of The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews, 1971–2000, p. 540; May 1, 2002, Brad Hooper, review of Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million, p. 1442; September 15, 2003, Donna Seaman, review of Yellow Dog, p. 179.
Bookseller, "Blue Pencil Please," p. 18.
Boston Globe, February 18, 1990, p. B41; March 25, 1990, p. B37; April 30, 1995, p. B15; May 31, 1995, p. 59.
Chicago Tribune, April 21, 1985; February 23, 1986; June 11, 1987; September 1, 1987; May 14, 1995.
Christian Science Monitor, September 4, 1987, p. B4; April 11, 1990, p. 12; May 17, 1995, p. 14.
Commentary, October 2002, David Pryce-Jones, review of Koba the Dread, p. 71.
Cosmopolitan, August, 1978.
Denver Post, March 9, 1998.
Details, June, 1995, p. 92.
Detroit News, June 16, 1985; June 14, 1987.
Economist, May 27, 2000, review of Experience, p. 88; May 26, 2001, review of The War against Cliché, p. 5.
Encounter, February, 1974; February, 1976; September, 1978; May, 1981.
Esquire, November, 1980; November, 1986; January, 1987; October, 1987; February, 1999, Sven Birkerts, "The Twentieth Century Speaks," p. 64.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), January 26, 1985; September 6, 1986; June 6, 1987.
History Today, November 2002, S.A. Smith, review of Koba the Dread, p. 89.
Interview, June, 1985; May, 1995, p. 122.
Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, June 21, 2000, Margaria Fichtner, "Martin Amis Pens Autobiography," p. K1583; July 24, 2002, Charles Matthews, review of Koba the Dread, p. 1504.
Library Journal, October 1, 2001, Robert L. Kelly, review of The War against Cliché, p. 96; June 1, 2002, Robert H. Johnston, review of Koba the Dread, p. 169; October 15, 2003, David Hellman, review of Yellow Dog, p. 95.
Listener, August 15, 1974; October 30, 1975; April 13, 1978; March 5, 1981; September 27, 1984; April 30, 1987, p. 28; September 21, 1989, p. 30.
London Magazine, February-March, 1974.
London Review of Books, May 7-20, 1981; September 20-October 3, 1984; July 24, 1986, p. 5; May 7, 1987, p. 11; September 28, 1989, p. 7; September 12, 1991, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times, June 28, 1987; September 27, 1987; March 29, 1990, p. E1.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, March 31, 1985, p. 3; June 28, 1987, p. 13; March 4, 1990, p. 3; November 10, 1991, p 3; April 30, 1995, p. 3.
Maclean's, June 26, 2000, Barry Came, "Look Back in Love," p. 48; August 19, 2002, Sue Ferguson, review of Koba the Dread, p. 52.
Nation, April 23, 1990, p. 565; December 30, 1991, p. 852; December 8, 2003, Keith Gessen, review of Yellow Dog, p. 50.
National Review, August 14, 1987, p. 44; November 20, 1987, p. 60; May 28, 1990, p. 46; May 29, 1995, p. 61.
New Criterion, February, 1987; May, 1990.
New Leader, May 13, 1974.
New Republic, May 6, 1985, p. 34; January 26, 1987, p. 36; April 30, 1990, p. 45; August 28, 2000, review of Experience, p. 45.
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New York Review of Books, July 18, 1974.
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New York Times Magazine, February 4, 1990, p. 32.
Observer (London, England), December 2, 1984, p. 19; April 7, 1985, p. 21; September 24, 1989, p. 47; September 22, 1991, p. 59; November 24, 1991, p. 2; October 17, 1993, p. 16; March 26, 1995, p. 17.
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 1, 1998.
Publishers Weekly, February 8, 1985; May 22, 2000, review of Experience, p. 81; May 20, 2002, review of Koba the Dread, p. 55; October 13, 2003, review of Yellow Dog, p. 55.
Punch, October 10, 1984, p. 82; May 27, 1987, p. 66.
Quill and Quire, September, 1987, p. 86.
Rolling Stone, May 17, 1990, p. 95.
San Francisco Review of Books, April, 1991, p. 32.
Saturday Review, June, 1981.
Spectator, November 24, 1973; April 15, 1978; March 21, 1981; October 20, 1984; July 12, 1986, p. 29; December 6, 1986, p. 33; May 2, 1987, p. 31; September 23, 1989, p. 36; July 20, 1991, p. 25; September 28, 1991, p. 37; October 16, 1993, p. 38.
Sunday Times (London, England), March 8, 1981; September 26, 1982.
Time, March 11, 1985, p. 70; June 22, 1987, p. 74; February 26, 1990, p. 71; May 1, 1995, p. 90; February 8, 1999, R.Z. Sheppard, "Bitter Sweets," p. 70; November 3, 2003, Lev Grossman, review of Yellow Dog, p. 76.
Time Out, March 27, 1981.
Times (London, England), September 27, 1984; August 14, 1986; April 30, 1987; July 25, 1987.
Times Educational Supplement, November 5, 1993, p. 12.
Times Literary Supplement, October 17, 1975; March 6, 1981; November 26, 1982; October 5, 1984; July 18, 1986, p. 785; May 1, 1987, p. 457; September 29, 1989, p. 1051; September 20, 1991, p. 21; October 15, 1993, p. 21.
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Voice Literary Supplement, October, 1991, p. 31.
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Women's Wear Daily, October 21, 2003, Kimberly Cutter, "Amis Amiss," p. 4.