Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
House of Meetings Hardcover – January 16, 2007
|New from||Used from|
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
Amis's main achievement is his depiction of the cruel realities of the Soviet gulags. Drawing heavily on his research for Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million, his half-history/half-memoir of political imprisonment and industrial-scale killing in Soviet Russia, Amis has created his own Animal Farm--without metaphors to mask the blood, filth, and death of the camps. Amis vividly recreates the social structure of gulag life, as the inmates and guards sort themselves into distinct hierarchies and stations in their struggles to survive the rigors of the gulag. Here The House of Meetings may accomplish what Amis had intended for the unfocused Koba: to cast a searing light on an often overlooked episode of 20th century inhumanity and mass murder. --Jon Foro
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The material about life in the camps is harrowing, and Amis' skill is well used here. His phrase about the cold "grabbing you and frisking you," will stay with me through all my thoughts and reading about the Gulag. His passages about erotic and violent encounters can pack quite a wallop, no question. But I found the characters in the love triangle to be rather too familiar, and I really couldn't muster much interest in how their lives would turn out. The narrator talks like a, well, like a litterateur...how did he get that way after such a brutal life? No clue. His brother, a man of iron principles...why? No clue. The love interest, a Venus of Wittemberg type, all earth, sex, sensuality. (And it's all written to his step daughter, Venus, a typical American girl - the irony is a bit too thick.)
The sentences in the book can be marvelous, the descriptions haunting, but they don't seem like the sort of thing that would come out of the character who's telling the story. They seem more like Amis trying to sound like an intellectual Gulag survivor. Not bad, but once they get out of the camp, not too compelling. The plot is supposed to be tragic and weirdly contorted, but it just seems contrived to me. Would anyone really talk about their lives as these people do?
This is a very rare novel by a major Western writer about the Gulag; perhaps it will begin to correct the increasingly embarrassing absence of attention this subject has gotten from Western literary intellectuals. The basic triangular situation of the characters is a familiar Amis situation, but one he has adapted to the tortured history of the times.Read more ›
As an essayist and reviewer, Amis is unmatched--his talents are perfectly suited to those forms. And his novels are great reading as well: both profound and enjoyable. Yet House of Meetings shares the one significant flaw that marks all the Amis novels I've read (and which another reviewer here touches on): his characters inevitably speak (or in this case, write) like Martin Amis the essayist. And just like the mismatched half-brothers of Success, the half-brothers who meet again in a Soviet gulag in House of Meetings regularly make Amis-like insights on their lives and the people they know. That one flaw in Amis' fiction doesn't stop me from enjoying, or recommending, his novels, including this one. The author's wit and insight and the quality of the writing more than pay back your reading time, flaws and all.
But in HOUSE OF MEETINGS, Mart gives his fans a twist. This time, he takes this same dynamic and imagines its expression between two brothers in Soviet Russia, the older a soldier brutalized by his experiences in World War II. In HOUSE OF MEETINGS, Mart explores how this dynamic, which drove the lives of his characters in 1980's London and New York, would withstand years of slave labor in Stalin's Gulag.
One Amazon.co.uk wag (the review has disappeared) called this book ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF MARTIN AMISOVITCH. Mart's fans who read HOUSE OF MEETINGS will see this comment is spot-on, since this novel explores such familiar Amis themes as male competition, loveless sex, retribution, and bad teeth, this time in heavy-handed Soviet society. It's fascinating stuff and the writing, especially in the first and last sections, is brilliant.
One word of warning: The experience of reading this book is similar to reading EVERYMAN, the latest from Philip Roth. I'd call each novel a short and mesmerizing page turner. But neither book is happy reading, even with the guilt plagued narrator of HOUSE OF MEETINGS finally earning profound but ironic praise from his younger brother.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Liked the research and authentic feeling of a challenging life. Appreciated knowing his brothers feelings and reasons for decisions. RecommendPublished 1 day ago by kackhurst
I love books about Russian history, and I've been trying to read more "modern classic" authors. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Irishgal
The first Martin Amis book I read was Koba the Dread, which was a non-fiction account about Stalin and the gulags. A fantastic and disturbing book. Read morePublished 17 months ago by JBS
There were conjugal visits in the slave camps of the USSR. Valiant women would travel continental distances, over weeks and months, in the hope of spending a... Read more
After the first track of this audio book, I was puzzled. The narrator was using a fake russian accent. Read morePublished on April 2, 2011 by Felix Pryor
A bloated, convoluted story of a sociopathic Red Army vet doing a mental balance of his wasted life and love, with the background of forever decaying (according to Amis) Russia. Read morePublished on August 13, 2010 by a reader
The House of Meetings is a narrative delivered as a long letter from an unnamed narrator, an 86-year-old Russian man, to his step-daughter Venus, living in Chicago. Read morePublished on March 25, 2010 by Amazon Customer
Hey, I'm a huge fan of Amis..."Time's Arrow" is one of my absolute favorites. That being said, personally the story lost me a little after the brothers achieved "freedom. Read morePublished on January 25, 2009 by Matt R. Oscarson