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The Information Paperback – March 19, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (March 19, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679735739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679735731
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #424,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Amis's latest is a pitch-black comedy about literary envy and the declining state of literary culture.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Richard Tull, a fortyish book reviewer and failed novelist, is driven to distraction by the effortless and unmerited success of fellow Oxonian Gwyn Barry. While Barry's simpleminded novels become overnight best sellers, Tull's dense experimental manuscripts send a succession of literary agents to the hospital with migraine. Tull finally decides it's payback time, and this novel chronicles his slapstick attempts to annihilate his friend. Amis pads the narrative with irrelevant and sometimes erroneous scientific data, presumably to justify the book's title. (In one astronomical digression, he gives the speed of light as 186,000 miles per hour.) In general, however, this is a wonderfully cantankerous send-up of the British literary scene, similar to David Lodge's satire on academia, Small World (1984). Although the book has been greeted as a roman a clef in Great Britain, no special knowledge is required to enjoy its comedy. Recommended for most fiction collections.
-?Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

They were boring, unrealistic, and not fleshed out at all.
Triple Moon Goddess Indiana
This standard applies even to the science fiction & science fantasy genre of creative writing.
Richard Cunningham
A bitter boring feud between writers that oozes nothing more than senility.
SamSpade

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A. van Gelderen on February 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
Be warned: this book is not everybody's cup of tea. An appreciation of black, irreverent humour is absolutely essential if you want to enjoy this novel and it is no wonder that a lot of people find it infuriating and outrageous. Everybody does seem to agree, however, that it is very well-written.
First of all let me tell you what the book is about. Protagonist Richard Tull is a pretentious, but sensationally unsuccesful novelist - plus a chainsmoker and an alcholic with a harrowing midlife crisis. His novels are so unreadable that nobody makes it past page 10 without developing at least one mysterious ailment. So when the bland, improbably inoffensive novels of his dim friend Gwyn hit the bestseller lists and Gwyn gets the celebrity, wealth and trophy wife that go with beststellerdom something snaps in Richard. He now has only one goal left in life: [getting even with] up Gwyn". Contemplating the several ways he can go about doing this, Richard runs into Steve, a {morally challenged}, sadistic drugdealer and as it happens not only his only fan but also the only reader able to make it past the first dozen or so pages. Of course this is a set-up for disaster, but of the comic not the tragic kind.
So, all this sounds like fun. And it is, several passages are downright laugh-out-loud funny, especially if you read them in context...
But the book is also dark and pessimistic. The London that provides most of its background is a crowded city full of filth and violence. Neither Richard nor Gwyn is likeable. The publishing world is a scream. And human is life is nothing, absolutely nothing from a cosmic point of view, as the author keeps pointing out. The low-life characters such as Steve, 13 and Darko are unconvincing and superfluous. But is the book depressing?
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. Ebeling on September 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
The name Martin Amis seemed to be everywhere in the nineties and I felt grossly uninitiated for not having read him. I can now say I have, having completed THE INFORMATION, and I now understand why he is simultaneously reputed to be brilliant and infuriating.
THE INFORMATION is the story of a failed novelist who had published promisingly early on, who is not ready to admit his later work is unreadable, preferring to view himself as the victim of a frivolous culture that is embracing the frivolous (his take) fiction his best friend is producing. He decides, as he turns forty, to take the best friend down, beginning with mind games, then descending into darker tricks, especially as he hooks up with a hood, a menacer-for-hire. Along the way, his friend's synthetic star just keeps rising and his keeps sinking.
Why this is brilliant: 1) Amis plays the ladder of comedy for all its rungs and worth. It's nice to see the classic bones underneath. 2) It is witty throughout and laugh out loud funny in places. 3) The satiric picture of the publishing world on both sides of the Atlantic is scathing. 4) Amis is enviably literate, spurting well-placed allusions everywhere. 5) More about classic bones: he revisits the complicated relationship of author, voice, and narrator in creative fiction and experiments in occasional scenes where he steps before the reader as himself and makes connections to bigger themes. 6) He does a touching though unsentimental job of portraying children.
Why this is infuriating: 1) Few of his characters are sympathetic (but then few in Vanity Fair were, either). 2) Amis is enviably literate: when he does the riff on Little Dorritt, you want to just throw in the towel, you can't compete, you might as well live in a cave.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Erin O'Brien on July 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
Leave English to the English. No North American could possibly produce such a rich, red wine novel: smoky, dark, giddiness-inducing.
But the subject is so perverse!
Richard Tull is an Oxford-educated former novelist with delusions of publishing. His life is an unmitigated horror show. After a very modest and ever-dwindling success with his first novels, his next three do not even find publishers.
For the narrator of "The Information", ulcer-burning envy sizzles and pops between every clack of fingers on keyboard. According to Amis's vision, every writer secretly regards every other as a talentless, undeserving moron. Every writer robs every other of recognition, fame, money, status, immortality, and sex. In short, every writer is robbed by every other of nothing less than undifferentiated, pre-Oedipal love from the entire universe.
What makes writing such a torturous profession? The sheer sedentary inactivity? The need to put perfect words to every sensation, no matter how miserable or otherwise fleeting?
Richard's miserable income as a professional book reviewer (reviewing Other People's Books) has him "receiving a solicitor's letter from his own solicitor" while "being summarily fired, through the post, by his own literary agent." With belly-flopping bathos, even Richard's vacuum cleaner fails him, leaving his study lined with symbolic dust.
Richard drinks to forget that he drinks to forget why he drinks, and then he drinks more because he forgets that he is already drunk. When he isn't drinking, he chain-smokes and takes unfashionable drugs he can't afford. At age forty, his face has irretrievably collapsed. His marriage threatens to follow.
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