17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant and Infuriating (But Read It Anyway),
This review is from: The Information (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. 3) There is a slight unevenness in momentum across the book, perhaps intentional, perhaps the result of writing this work across several years. 4) There are scenes, as there are in Tom Wolfe's novels, where you want to say, OK, I know what you can do, you've done that, get on with it.
The best thing about this book: it's alive! It's not solemn, hands-at-its-side, perfunctory literary fiction. If it is messy in places, so be it.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 26, 2010 3:21:37 PM PDT
where is the Little Dorrit reference ? no clue.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2010 5:27:35 AM PDT
It's been 8 years and a few hundred books later, and I don't have my journal with me at the moment to see if I noted the page (probably not back in those days), but it's in there, I remember it, even though I have a fuzzy recall of the overall plot. I was thinking of this book recently after reading "The Book of My Enemy has been Remaindered" for the first time, a poem by Clive James.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2010 7:51:51 AM PDT
thx so much for the response. I have a number of questions on the book, would love to discuss. I will gather my thoughts on this. I find this book tougher to unravel than Money or London Fields.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2010 7:59:43 AM PDT
This is the only Martin Amis fiction I've read to date. You note I called it "infuriating." I'll have to dig out my journal. C.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2010 8:26:54 AM PDT
ha, you chose his most infuriating book, read London Fields - I think that book and Rushdie's Midnight's Children are best books of last 50 years (not that I've read all the great literature !). Time's Arrow is also amazing and a quick read.
I look forward to your insight. Most of the Amazon reviews/coments are very flakey !
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2010 8:37:46 AM PDT
I've got Time's Arrow and Experience (memoir) on my to read list (which has 200 other titles on it as well!). I, who usually never reads anything until it is firmly ensconced on the backlist, am reading Freedom, which is not exactly quick . . . .
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2010 6:39:37 PM PDT
I'm still quite interested to discuss the book, if you have found your notes.
Posted on Jan 16, 2011 6:14:19 PM PST
Hi there, I'm still interested in the Little Dorrit reference, I do notice he mentions the book on p. 164
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