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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great "success" on Amis' part...
Let me just say that Martin Amis is probably not for everyone. His ecceedingly dark meditations on British Middle Class issues (think of it as the dark side to Jane Austen) may be either too disturbing or totally irrelevant to some readers. But for those who go in for dark irony in thick layers, and carefully constructed narratives, Amis is probably for you...
Published on April 29, 2000 by figurat

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a roaring success, but good enough
Success chronicles a year in the life of Terry Service and Gregory Riding, twenty-something foster brothers who room together and hate each other with a passion. It's not hard to see why, as they are both unlikeable in their polar-opposite ways. Terry is an unattractive, unsuccessful slob, who hasn't had sex in months and is in a job in which he hates and may be fired...
Published on December 21, 2010 by P. J. Owen


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great "success" on Amis' part..., April 29, 2000
This review is from: Success (Paperback)
Let me just say that Martin Amis is probably not for everyone. His ecceedingly dark meditations on British Middle Class issues (think of it as the dark side to Jane Austen) may be either too disturbing or totally irrelevant to some readers. But for those who go in for dark irony in thick layers, and carefully constructed narratives, Amis is probably for you. *Success* chonicles a pivotal year in the life of foster brothers. Terry Service, a "yob", as well as a compelling, gittering pile of neuroses, self-hatred and self-pity who hasn't had sex in months is the adopted brother of Gregory Riding, rich, self-assured, attractive and completely heartless. Terry was adopted after watching his father kill his sister. Add to the antagonistic brew of the two "brothers", unreliable first-person accounts of the year, a decidedly insane sister and some rather biting role reversal, and the book turns out to be a real treat. It's fairly clear early on what is going to happen in the course of the novel, at least in the grand scheme of things, if not in the minutiae of the plot details. It's still a fun ride to watch Amis pull off the expected with incredible panache and some unexpected turns. Trust me, get through the first two chapters and continue reading, it's definitely worth it. What's also interesting is to read Amis' *MONEY* after reading this book. The main character in *MONEY* is like a mix of Terry and Greg (if that were imaginable). *SUCCESS* is a good introduction to the aesthetics of Amis, after this read *MONEY* or *THE INFORMATION*. Then you'll probably be ready for *LONDON FIELDS*.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an occasional masterpiece, October 1, 2003
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This review is from: Success (Paperback)
Amis excells at playing nasty tricks on his readers, and "Success" is in many ways an emotional con game. As with all works of satire, the ultimate purpose of the novel is didactic. When "Success" works well (ie, when a reader is enough of a "sucker" to buy into Amis' conceit) it is a meditation on the ways we can be misled by pity, an audience-participation demonstration of the fallability of human sympathy. As such, it's a remarkably thought-provoking read.
That said, the success of "Success" is largely based on reader manipulation. There are a number of reasons why Amis' technique might not work for a particular reader - for instance, if they are easily offended, or if they don't find Amis' brand of humor funny, or (and this is absolutely vital) if they don't share the sympathy-for-the-underdog and corresponding lack-of-sympathy-for-the-overdog mentality upon which Amis' experiment depends. Without an emotional investment from the reader, "Success" reads as a heartlessly empty comedy, rife with cliche, riddled with needless sexism, racism, and homophobia, and featuring characters unique only in their dislikability. Once transformed by the gullability of the reader, however, "Success" becomes a fascinating and enlightening study of contemporary human nature.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, intensely moving, gothic coming of age novel, October 15, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Success (Paperback)
There is in the life of every man a year which is entered as a confused adolescent and is ended either as an independent fully formed adult, or as a broken human being. Promise, as perceived by others, has very little to do with the outcome. Promise, as perceived by the adolescent himself is also not the determining factor. Amis argues that what ultimately forms the man is the ability to cope with adversity and choose the few avenues that lead somewhere (not necessarily somewhere special), rather than be side-tracked into a dead-end by the need for transient success.
From the first sentence this book keeps the reader riveted and directly involved. Every one of the twelve chapters, one for each month of that formative year, consists of two parts, a first part in which Terry Service tells the reader what is going on in his life and a second part in which his foster brother Gregory Riding takes his turn. The two compete fiercely for the reader's approval and understanding. Terry, insecure and convinced that he is marked for failure, tries to avoid, or at least delay, the disaster he assumes to be his inevitable lot. He succeeds and makes it into a sustainable, if not particularly exciting adulthood. Gregory, ever the spoiled brat and outright psychopath, lies to and deceives everyone including himself until that inevitable moment when everything in his life unravels fast and he runs home only to be faced with his family's financial bankruptcy and his father's death. Murders, suicide and incest give a gothic aura to the tale, but then no one should underestimate the horrors of that metamorphosis whereby the adult human male is formed. Yet the whole thing is made bearable by the protagonists' remarkable sense of humor and by a healthy dose of cynicism and denial. In places the book is hilariously funny, Terry's dialogue with his penis, for one. In other places it is intensely moving, particularly when under all the sibling rivalry, deception and envy, we see traces of decency and ultimately of genuine affection between the two foster brothers.
This is a marvelous book and one cannot fail but notice that it would make a great movie. Leonardo DiCaprio and Joaquin Phoenix were clearly meant to star as Gregory and Terry. But then, who in Hollywood takes my advice? END
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Amis, July 6, 2003
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Reverend_Maynard (Glasgow, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Success (Paperback)
'Success' contains all the familiar elements of an Amis novel: insightful and witty social observation, lashings of frequently explicit sex, impeccable structure and countless sublime and delightful examples of his sparse and anarchic prose. The novel concerns two foster brothers, one the prodigal son of an established upper class family, the other an orphan with a nightmare past, adopted by the same family in an act of misguided charity. The novel works as a paradigm for the changing of social structure in England: the boundaries between classes becoming blured, along with the occupations and pursuits normal to the members of these classes becoming more permeable.
Despite the fact that the book is structured in a peculiar fashion, with each brother taking a turn at narrating the same events (along with all the contradictions and inconsistencies this would suggest), Amis injects a remarkable amount of comedy into the narrative, with much of the humour in fact springing from the books peculiar format. The descrpitions of the activities of Gregory Riding, all of his foppish aspects and our nagging intuition that he refrains from telling us the truth about his life are handled skillfully, while Terence Services character evokes sympathy and pity, but gradually disgust as the novel progresses and the roles are reversed, the effectiveness of the change reminding us of Amise's talent.
Although not for the squeamish, this is an intelligent and enjoyable comic novel, with hints of very dark humour, which just about leaves us in thought about societys structure and how we should live our lives, which all good novels should.
Reccommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, September 15, 2003
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This review is from: Success (Hardcover)
In "Success", Martin Amis explores the lives of two foster brothers, giving voice to each over a January through December period in the 1980s. In the beginning, Gregory is a narcissistic and selfish aristocrat, a monster of a man but funny. Meanwhile, Terrence is a self-loathing and weak yob, a pathetic man who is funny in his futility. Then, these mirror image brothers brilliantly and persuasively assume each other's perspective, as Amis, over the 12 months of his narrative, probes beneath the face each brother presents to the world. As is usual with Martin Amis novels, "Success" is funny, bawdy, and entertaining, as well as weird. Like "The Information" and "Money", it is also brilliantly constructed and fully achieved. Hooray for Martin!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bonsai, May 4, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Success (Paperback)
This early novel by Martin Amis is one of his best.The co-protagonist, office boy Terence Service, is so convincingly drawn that you wonder if Amis actually had a hot-wire into someone else's mind while writing Success. Service's descriptions of london are so poignant you want to actually go and see the place.
I think that this mental landscape/ urban landscape thing is what Amis does best. When it works, it works. But when it doesn't it's a disaster. For every truly great Amis novel there's a stinker like London Fields or dead babies. But Success, as far as I'm concerned,is easily as good as anything Dickens wrote (apart from Dombey & Son, perhaps)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bitterly-funny tale of 2 rivals for Fortune's Hand., September 3, 1997
This review is from: Success (Paperback)
Gregory Riding is perfect: rich, handsome, sophisticated, leading a storybook life of leisure, love, and taste. His foster brother Terry Service is the opposite: unattractive, dull, frustrated, stuck in a horrific dead-end job. But what begins as a clear contrast soon twists as Fortune's Wheel begins her inevitable spin: who will end up a Success? Amis writes in a deliciously funny pyrotechnic style and he is a master of the ironic plot twist that will leave you shaking your head and chuckling, even as you realize with horror just what you're laughing at. This is a hilarious parable by a master of form
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his more accessible works, November 8, 2000
This review is from: Success (Paperback)
Unlike some of the other reviewers, I happen to enjoy Martin Amis. Occassionally his novels become convoluted or difficult to follow, however, this book is one of his most accessible.
As is with most of his novels, the strength of this work is the development of interesting characters and the transformations that they undergo.
This book is a fast, funny read and definitely worth picking up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a great read, September 3, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Success (Paperback)
This was my first try with Martin Amis, after hearing many terrible and wonderful things about him. (See previous review, another frustrated, unpublished writer, perhaps.) It's not often that I've found myself bent over laughing and yet seriously disturbed by the same book, but I found it here.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like skipper and crew each writing an account of the same trip, December 23, 2005
This review is from: Success (Paperback)
I'm certain that anyone would learn this literary technique if they attended Oxford, or if they read David Lodge's book 'Think'; but, for me, the first time I encountered two versions of the same story was reading an account of a crossing of the English Channel in a sixteen foot sailboat, England to Holland, the skipper and crew describing the same trip...it was almost as if they had taken separate trips: the skipper was optimistic, the crew thought the skipper was a madman.

Back to Success: I thought this story was a scream. I was impressed by Terry's description of the flat, how he was locked out of the loo whenever Gregory had a visitor.

No doubt the plot would be classified as a reversal of fortune. Of the Martin Amis books I've read, this one seems most adaptable to theatre; it's really a stage play. But obviously you don't read these books for the story, you read them for the writing, it's all about the poetry.
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Success
Success by Martin Amis (Paperback - April 3, 1991)
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