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The Rachel Papers Paperback – September 29, 1992
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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"A truly sexy and funny book...a delight...the best teenage sex novel since Goodbye Columbus." -- New York
"Amis is a born comic novelist, in the tradition that ranges from Dickens to Waugh...He can find laughter in catastrophe and knows that morality shifts sneakily between absolutes and ambiguity...Amis's mercurial style...can rise to Joycean brilliance."
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Top Customer Reviews
But the first-person description of CH himself is really the core of the novel. Every twisted, nasty thought that any teenager has ever had is there in Charles, while he masquarades to himself and us as a polite, bookish, intellectual. In fact we are quietly led to believe what Charles believes of himself: that he is a cut-above the rest of the world---nasty but moral, calculating yet capable of love. It is only at the end that Amis lets us see the truth: that Charles is really just an intellectual fraud with no redeeeming features at all. He abandons the possibly pregnant Rachel with a callousness that even his much-hated father would have been incapable of. By contrast, Rachel ends up a far more noble charachter than we had any reason to believe when seen through Charles' overly self-regarding eyes.
In a sense this should be regarded as an early feminist novel. The male characters are so odious that it is hard to say a good word for them. (Though why, one wonders, have no female novelists plunged this far into the dark side of women's psyches?) But the question that must really be at the top of everyone's mind when they read this novel is: to what extent is this a portrait of the teenage Amis himself? The answer that most readers will probably come away with is, surely quite a lot. But that makes this novel a colossally brave affair, not just the clever, excoriatingly funny satire, that it seems on first read. A terrific book.
Highway is hilarious in his cynical, pustule-ridden loathsomeness, and many a brooding young American or British intellectual with find aspects of him to identify with. He's blunt, he's crass, but he knows beauty when he sees it. He's also a schemer who manages to have enough sex to warrant several trips to the VD clinic--it's 1973, after all--but not to let that stop him. His pursuit of, attainment of and parting with the lovely Rachel of the title comprises an extraordinary pre-University summertime journey replete with references to famous English poets and sweaty bodily functions. The character he most reminds me of in another book is Philip Roth's Alexander Portnoy.
Amis does such an amusing job of drawing together the lofty and the base in this, his first novel, that I look much forward to his more widely-known works. "The Rachel Papers" will not appeal to everyone, but will achieve a special place in the libraries of angst-filled teens and their older selves.
Highway's journal also reveals that he is smart, cynical, open, charmingly devious and painfully insecure. The reader also learns that Highway has a complicated relationship with his family, whom he has little respect for and is more than willing to deceive. When his parents give him money to travel, he tells them he's in Spain. But in reality he's not far from their door -- partying in London. Rather than feel guilty about his deception, Highway casts a disapproving judgmental eye on his parent's private lives.
His father is openly sleeping with another woman -- and his mother, who has let herself age not gracefully -- doesn't seem to care. But what really irks Highway is that other than this misstep there's not much dramatically wrong with his family. There are the usual ups and downs, but that's not enough! Charles craves something to be angry at. He yearns for big sweeps of drama.
As the book moves along, the reader gets to relive Charles adventures in London which are focused mainly on a Boy Meets Girl theme.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Has become my favorite book. Perfectly captures the insipid complaints, cocky self-consciousness, and contrived intellectualism of late adolescence.Published 9 months ago by Sara B.
Nice but rather too much of the seventies, enjoyable all throughPublished 11 months ago by MARIA MARTA RAGGIO
No other Amis novels read, so nothing to compare this one to. But it lived up to the reviews I read. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Dennis
If you are British, this may not be a fair rating. This book is the British version of a sequel to J. D. Read morePublished 21 months ago by PBJ
For some reason I've come late to Martin Amis and find myself going back through his earlier works. I wish I'd read this book when I was 20. Read morePublished 21 months ago by B. Pardue
good book well worded, alwyas been a fan of his dad kingsley, lucky jim is brilliant. but this is also a good readPublished 23 months ago by amazon customer