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Martin Amis: The Biography Hardcover – March 1, 2011
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Pre-order today
An engaging look at a life that is every bit as colourful as his novels. * Choice Magazine * Review. * Standpoint *
About the Author
Born in Derbyshire in 1957, Richard Bradford was educated at the University of Wales and at Oxford. He has held academic posts in Oxford, Wales and Trinity College, Dublin. He is currently and Research Professor in English at the University of Ulster. He has published twenty books, including Lucky Him: The Life of Kingsley Amis (2001), First Boredom, Then Fear: The Life of Philip Larkin (2005) and The Life of A Long Distance Writer: The Authorised Biography of Alan Sillitoe.
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This biographer, Richard Bradford, has definitely read everything although 'LA:SoE' turned up when he was past his deadline so we'll never know if he thought it as brill as he thought everything else the young master wrote was ("young" master, at 63? Well, I was a fan of Amis Père too, you see). I'm the kind of person who enjoys a movie without thinking too much about it, then checks its wikipedia page to find out what the plot was about. Accordingly, I appreciated Bradford's lavish synopses as much of those Amis-works I've read as those I haven't and won't (although I've definitely got The Pregnant Widow on my wish-list now).
I enjoyed even more the earlier part of the book, detailing what a crackerjack the Lad was at Oxford -- terrifically witty, accomplished, and altogether irresistible. A few reviewers over at amazon.co.uk have found it a bit icky that Bradford went to so much trouble to list the Lad's bedroom conquests. Tina Brown, for heaven's sake, who Bradford calls "the Zuleika Dobson of her generation." I bet Tina loved that, even if she may have curled a lip at some other aspects of her portrayal, or even the very inclusion of her on the long list. Alex 'Gully' Wells, the "official" college sweetie, sounds like fun, too, extending the Lad's sexual access long past it's sell-by date. A bit later, the uber-gorgeous Mary Furness, and the almost equally radiant Lamorna Seale, who surprised the Lad by producing a daughter (who in turn, as recently as 2008, made the Lad a grandfather -- grandLad?). Then on to two highly desirable and very brilliant wives and numerous bits on the side. I don't care if it is icky, or breaks some unwritten rule of biography, I lapped it up. Envy can be surprisingly comfortable, I find.
The descriptions of Amis's besties during the 'New Statesman' years were also pretty good. Christopher Hitchens, Ian McEwan, Will Self, Clive James, Salman Rushdie -- when they were at a Soho restaurant or the Bursa kebab house they didn't need table knives, they could cut the steaks with their own witty repartee. Looking back, I guess some of that did go a shade over the top, but it kept my attention at the time. The book left me thinking I would like the Lad's company if I should ever run into him, although I doubt I could keep up.
Next up in the Amis-oeuvre is another look at the Holocaust. I might not need the wikipage to help me understand what that's about, and I'll have Richard Bradford to thank for a few insights into what the author is all about, too.