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A Treat For Amis Fans,
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This review is from: Experience (Hardcover)
Readers expecting anecdotes and gossip about Amis's literary friends and family will be disappointed. This is not actually a memoir, but a creative work that revisits the themes developed in Amis's previous books such as the relationship between an author's experience and his creative work, the place of the narrator in a work of fiction, and the lost illusion of a caring, omnipotent god.
Reviewers who approached this book as a literary memoir were understandably puzzled by Amis's apparent obsession with the disappearance of his cousin, Lucy Partington, in 1973. Twenty years later the family learned that she had been murdered by a serial murderer. This is a family tragedy, certainly, but a private sort of tragedy. Yet, Amis returns to the subject again and again and in the oddest places. At one point, he is going to have all of his upper teeth pulled and he starts worrying about Lucy Partington. I think the place of Lucy Partington in Amis's imagination does take shape in this book in an interesting way. Still, I understand the resistance to his having made this tragedy such a personal affair.
The book has that blurry distinction between the accidental and the created world that is part of the fun of an Amis novel. One wonders if a dentist in Argentina actually sent Amis an essay about dental imagery in Joyce's "Ulysses" with the comment that there is much in the novel "transcending the purely dental." (p. 180)
I had written a longer review, but I see I am preceeded by some excellent comments by other readers. Oddly enough, the negative comments seem as true as the positive. That is sort of the way Martin Amis's books are. I doubt if someone completely unfamiliar with Martin Amis would pick up this book, but I would recommend reading some of his other fiction first, particularly, "London Fields" and "Time's Arrow." Anyone who has not read Kingsley Amis's "Lucky Jim" ought to do so anyway just for the pure delight of it, but it, too, is sort of a prerequisite to Martin Amis's "Memoirs." For readers who wait impatiently for a new work by Martin Amis, this book will be a treat.