From Publishers Weekly
These chronologically ordered essays and stories on the September 11 attacks proceed from initial bewilderment to coruscating contempt for radical Islam. Novelist Amis (House of Meetings
) rejects all religious belief as without reason and without dignity and condemns Islamism as an especially baleful variant. Amis attacks Islamism's tenets as [a]nti-Semitic, anti-liberal, anti-individualist, anti-democratic and characterizes its adherents, from founding ideologue Sayyid Qutb to the ordinary suicide bomber, as sexually frustrated misogynists entranced by a cult of death. He also takes swipes at Bush and the Iraq war, which he describes as botched and tragically counterproductive, if well intentioned, but scorns those who draw a moral equivalence between Western misdeeds and the jihadist agenda. Amis's concerns are cultural and aesthetic as well as existential: terrorism threatens a reign of boredom in the guise of tedious airport security protocols, pedantic conspiracy theories and the dogma-shackled dependent mind fostered by Islamist theocracy. As much as Amis's opinions are scathing, blunt and occasionally strident, his prose is subtle, elegant and witty—and certainly never boring. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Amis is famously audacious, sardonic, and excoriating. But in this bracing and corrective collection of intense and perceptive responses to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 (including an objection to the reductiveness of “9/11”), Amis is doing far more than performing literary pyrotechnics or playing provocateur. Beginning with “The Second Plane”––originally published a week after the catastrophe and utterly unnerving in its vivid sense of menace––he tracks the shock waves of that world-altering day in a dozen galvanizing essays. Amis brings the Iraq War and its appalling consequences into sharp focus, presents a blazing indictment of religion, and provides a striking analysis of the diabolical symbiosis between “the superterror of suicide-mass murder” and the “superboredom” of societies bereft of independent thought. If Amis verges on generalizations in his highly charged commentary, he focuses tightly, even empathically, on individuals in his arresting profile of Sayyid Qutb, the “father of Islamism”; in his double-barreled reports on Tony Blair and George W. Bush; and in two wrenchingly satirical short stories, one narrated by Muhammad Atta. Amis, whose most recent novel is the triumphant House of Meetings (2006), writes with vehemence, daring, and verve because he schools himself in harsh truths, and because he cares. --Donna Seaman