In Martin Amis's War Against Cliché, a selection of critical essays and reviews published between 1971 and 2000, he establishes himself as one of the fiercest critics and commentators on the literature and culture of the late 20th century. (He has already established himself as one of the most controversial and original novelists writing in English with novels such as Money and Time's Arrow.) In his foreword to the book Amis ruefully admits that his earlier reviews reveal a rather humorless attitude towards the "Literature and Society" debate of the time. Yet this only adds to the fascination of the collection, as Amis gradually finds his critical voice in the 1980s, confirming his passionate belief that "all writing is a campaign against cliché."
In the subsequent sections of the book, this war leads to some wonderfully cutting and amusing responses to whatever crosses his path, from books on chess and nuclear proliferation to Cervantes' Don Quixote and the novels of his hero Vladimir Nabokov. Praise for his literary heroes is often fulsome: J.G. Ballard's High-Rise "is an intense and vivid bestiary, which lingers in the mind and chronically disquiets it." But his literary wrath is also devastating in its incisiveness: Thomas Harris's Hannibal is dismissed as "a novel of such profound and virtuoso vulgarity," while John Fowles is attacked because "he sweetens the pill: but the pill was saccharine all along." Often frank in its reappraisals (Amis concedes to being too hard on Ballard's Crash when reviewing the film many years later), some of the best writing is reserved for his journalism on sex manuals, chess, and his beloved football. The War Against Cliché will provoke strong reactions, but that only seems to confirm, rather than deny, the value of Amis's writing. --Jerry Brotton, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Amis's critiques cover wide-ranging topics and are well worth reading, particularly when the erudition on display is liberated by humor, regarding not only the subject under examination but often the examiner himself. Amis, best known for his novels (e.g., London Fields, The Information), recognizes an authorial foible, then pounces on it not without grace, not without vigor. 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. Requiring less literary background are his essays on poker or chess, Elvis Presley, or the sexual allure of Margaret Thatcher. The Amis view is at its best or at least at its most readable when he is chatting up such standards as Don Quixote, Pride and Prejudice, Ulysses, and Lolita. His lengthy commentary on Nabokov, Larkin, and Updike certainly informs, as do shorter pieces on Roth, Burroughs, Capote, Burgess, and Vidal. To paraphrase Vidal, the best writing allows the reader to participate. Without question, Amis appreciates this concept and puts it into practice in his most accomplished criticisms. Recommended for academic libraries. Robert L. Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This collection of Martin Amis critical essays and reviews of the writing styles of some of the world's most famous writers is informative and entertaining. Read morePublished 5 months ago by John G. Rouse III
Martin Amis is my favorite writer. I often disagree with his opinions and sometimes I even think he's writing nonsense. Read morePublished 15 months ago by CTS
Too hipster is the required answer here! I have always enjoyed Kingsley Amis, but I warn you that Martin's falling apple isn't even in the same orchard. Read morePublished on January 10, 2013 by G. Case
This is an entertaining and insightful collection of literary reviews by Martin Amis, which were published in a range of periodicals from 1971 until 2000. Read morePublished on March 19, 2012 by C. Collins
Even if you're not interested in the authors or subjects that Amis is reviewing and exploring here, you can't help but be interested in his take on them. Read morePublished on April 13, 2011 by Thomas O'Riordan
This book taught me that literary criticisim could be valuable, funny, and an art form but what I loved most about it is how well written it is on the sentence level. Read morePublished on September 10, 2010 by Seth Wandersman
Literary and popular cultures are examined in this book of essays -written between 1971 and 2000. Authors of acknowledged masterpieces (Cervantes, Jane Austen, Coleridge, Updike,... Read morePublished on December 16, 2009 by Marie-Jo Fortis
Of recent vintage there has been a spate of the talentless children of talented literary figures getting into print. Read morePublished on October 16, 2008 by Cosmoetica
These bits and pieces do not say all that much alone; together they work as a lethal brew strong enough to kill crawling insects, academics, and other vermin. Read morePublished on August 2, 2007 by David Schweizer