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Experience: A Memoir Paperback – June 12, 2001
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Here, finally, is Amis's chance to set matters straight--and if you're looking for his take on these controversies, you won't be disappointed. In fact, you should turn right away to the end of the book. After all, how many memoirs have indices--and how many indices are this entertaining? In addition to movers and shakers like "Travolta, John," "Brown, Tina," and "Bellow, Saul," one finds an extended entry for "dental problems," which includes "of animals," "sexual potency and," "Bellow on," and--more ominously--"tumour."
Yet it's as "a clear view of the geography of a writer's mind," not as a celebrity tell-all, that Experience succeeds. Organized not by chronology but by a strange thematic schema all Amis's own, this messy, tangential book moves backward and forward in time and comes studded with footnotes and interspersed with schoolboy epistles. As a result, it's much truer to the actual texture of experience than anything more "novelistic" could possibly be. Amis's charming, quarrelsome, almost entirely helpless father; the tragic disappearance of his cousin, Lucy Partington; the daughter discovered only as an adult; those teeth--the narrative circles around these events and personages in prose as virtuoso but often less chilly than that found in his novels. This is memoir as anatomy of obsessions, and in the most profound way, it illuminates the source and power of Amis's remarkable work. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Mr. Amis has brilliance, humor and intellect, all bursting like fireworks off the page. He also has quirks that he freely indulges. You have to get past his obsession with his teeth. (Yes, teeth.) He can start on any subject and get waylaid by dental experiences he has had. You almost forgive him these tirades, as he describes them so vividly. No one who has served a sentence or two in a dentist's chair can help but agree "the drill, capable of making your vision shudder." Then there is the issue of his phantom obesity. He continually worries about the past, present and future size of his "bum," yet every single photo in the book depicts a slim boy/youth/man called Martin Amis.
One of the strongest areas in the book is his loving tribute to his family, particularly his father, the renowned Kingsley Amis. The family is eccentric-twenty years after his parents' divorce, Kingsley moves in to the upper story of his happily remarried ex-wife's residence where she cares for him the rest of his life. The reason for this move is Kingsley does not and will not stay alone at night. His sons take this as an absolute given and grown up Martin and brother Philip discuss whether they will have to move in with Dad to quell the night frights.
Mr. Amis' descriptive powers are a marvel as they drop effortlessly through his narrative, such as, "There is a slushy crush outside the British Airways terminal.Read more ›
'Experience' shows Amis turning his prose on himself, and his family, particularly his father; yet the book isn't a conventional memoir. James Wood, in an insightful review, wrote of the book as `an escape from memoir...an escape into privacy.' Rather than trace in detail the life of a successful writer in the post-WW2 world, the advances and the interviews, Amis has tackled the universal theme of innocence becoming experience; of Youth becoming Age and ultimately Death. This is not to say that Amis has gone super-solemn. `Experience' is full of wonderful set-pieces (including a wonderfully funny account of Christopher Hitchens laying into Saul Bellow over Israel's foreign policy) and his father's tidal-wave wit is everywhere. But at the heart of `Experience' sits the understanding that Death is inescapable, yet not impossible to accept. Kingsley's death - the most moving part of the book - removes the intercessionary figure that stands between Martin and Death; yet it also makes him realise how precious and important life is, and how lucky writers are in being able to leave their best work behind them. I should say that `Experience' does have its annoyances.Read more ›
I devoured book after book. But as I grew up (i.e., entered my thirties) it began to dawn on me that he had a brilliant style, with nothing to say. I kept thinking -- God, he ought to be writing copy for Mercedes or something, what a waste of talent to the advertising community. Because despite advancing age, he clearly lacked the insight and maturity to write about women, violence, nuclear fear, the Holocaust.
The early books, I thought, were about something. The Rachel Papers was about self-regarding first love, Success about growing up and putting our childhood heartbreaks behind us, though it might mean losing our souls in the process. Other People fascinated because I lived through something like the protagonist. How did this guy tap into my experience? I was deeply impressed.
Then came the big books that made him famous and rich: Money, London Fields, The Information. In which characters became less real, too cartoonlike, too cliched to move the reader to indentification, the books themselves too long, wearing out attention span and killing their own too-grand themes. Night Train and Time's Arrow brief, merely clever style exercises full of what we already know. The world is bad and scary. So what else is new?
It's amazing that Amis's next book is called Against Cliche, because for all his brilliant word combinations, his characters and situations are nothing but cliche.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was advertised to be about Martin Amis' father, Kingsley Amis, and many other writers Martin has met, in whom I would have been very intreseted. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Semon Strobos
Martin Amis is a superb writer- absolutely! This is autobiographical and is a good read. A paperback, it fell apart in the reading. No problem. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Albert V. lesley
Like many of his novels, Martin Amis's memoir is unconventional. It also is moving, it has many moments of literary brilliance, and it often is quite interesting. Read morePublished 19 months ago by R. M. Peterson
This book reminded me of Edmund White's "Inside a Pearl, My Life in Paris." They are both autobiographical with a scattered time frame and much name dropping. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Suzanne
If I could give it minus 1 I would. It was THAT bad!
Classic example of the son of a brilliant man who writes a book just because he can, knowing fully well it will get... Read more
This is one of the most insightful, intelligent, entertaining and poignant books I have ever read. This book has the distinction of being a book which inspires one to read more and... Read morePublished on March 9, 2013 by Rosy Fenwicke
I had to read this book for a Creative Writing course. After a few pages of reading, I was hooked on Martin Amis.
He's excellent; this is a must-read. Read more