Truck Reviews Beauty Magazine Deals Men's slip on sneakers nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Weekly One Electronics Gift Guide Fire TV Stick Grocery Handmade Personalized Jewelry Shop by look Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon TheGrandTour TheGrandTour TheGrandTour  Kids Edition Echo Dot Fire tablets: Designed for entertainment Kindle Paperwhite Find a new favorite show Find a new favorite show Find a new favorite show Shop now Start your Baby Registry

The Rachel Papers
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:$11.08+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


on March 30, 2017
I have been reading Martin Amis ever since a friend of mine from Random House introduced me to his American debut decades ago (!) We thought he was brilliant then, and disagreed with the initial (preemptive) buzz was that he "might not" be as good as his father Kingsley.

Ha! Freudians be damned, he's better.

Though The Rachel Papers isn't my favorite Martin Amis (The Information,) you cannot better him for voice. His ear for the English language and dialect as an exhibit of intellect and character is always accurate, pleasurable--and dangerous to the smug and inattentive.

First-rate writer, and such a gift to readers like us.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on April 22, 2005
Can a middle-aged family man whose many brothers are grandfathers enjoy a book about teenage sex, seduction, and callousness? Well, this reader's answer is yes and no. I say yes, if that doddering straight-arrow is a fan of Martin Amis. Then, that reader is fascinated to find in nascent form many of the themes and hilarious personality-types that populate the great Mart's mature fiction. But, the answer is no if that old man, reading about teenage seduction, thinks he's found a suitable book for his son and daughter, both new to grad school.

Thinking back 35 years, I'd say Mart's lusty and literate narrator absolutely conveys the young male's point of view on sex, seduction, and, oops!, falling in love. But, the book made me feel like some of Saul Bellow's old-man protagonists, who react to the travails of youth and contemporary life with pointlessly complex interpretation and advice.

My verdict: I'm glad it still sells. But as I approach my golden years, THE RACHEL PAPERS makes me feel boring.
2 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on January 6, 2013
Martin Amis tells what might have been another coming-of-age story about a boy of 19 turning 20. The young man is prepping for Oxford but worrying far more about his looks, his relationships with women, and his love/hate relationship with his dad. He keeps copious notes, planning his every move and then reflecting on his success or failure, thus the title. In Amis's hands, however, the novel is so much more. With his gifts of wit and insight, it's having a laugh (or a smile) on every page.
2 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
VINE VOICEon March 14, 2005
It's amazing that Martin Amis wrote such a great book when he was only in his 20s, but in some respects, it's quite obvious that "The Rachel Papers" was written by someone so young because the narration is so brilliantly accurate.

This is the story of Charles Highway, an Oxford-bound adolescent who battles personal demons, family issues, and soon finds himself facing the biggest challenge of his life thus far: managing to get a girl named Rachel into bed with him.

Charles is a hilarious character because he's so easily identifiable to today's youth (even though this novel was written over 30 years ago). Highway appears to be a bookish intellectual on the outside, but the raunchy thoughts that run through his mind are along the same lines of any and every horny young man who can think of nothing else but his next sexual conquest. Although the graphic sexual material might make the average reader blush, it is depicted in such a way that it gives the reader even more insight into this character.

This is a great book...a bit vulgar in places, but hilarious.
2 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on October 24, 2014
If you are British, this may not be a fair rating. This book is the British version of a sequel to J. D. Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye, but is probably applicable to the US system of hoops through which one must jump in :higher education". It is also a great commentary on the process of growing up - or failure to do so.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on July 17, 2011
No really memorable characters, not that's always an issue. But, Amis seems to use this first novel as a showcase for his writing skills. And the book seems to end at what seems no different a point than the end of any of the characters' episodes. Although this could be appropriate in a novel that expresses itself as an ongoing diary, I would've preferred an ending that clearly left room for more in Highway's relationship with Rachel, that left things open for a possible continuation, or possibly Amis could have provided us with an epilogue that either alluded to future events between the two of them or that gave some closure to the relationship. I felt the reader was just left hanging.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on January 31, 2013
It is hard not to compare The Rachel Papers, Martin Amis's debut novel, to Lucky Jim, the best and best-known work by his famous father, Kingsley Amis. Both, after all, are novels of disillusionment, with Jim Dixon finding that academia is rife with petty politics that take away from the fulfilling life of the mind he once envisioned, while Charles Highway, the protagonist of The Rachel Papers, seduces and then discards a slightly older woman by the name of Rachel, concluding that she is not a suitable match for him. That, however, is where the comparison should end, for The Rachel Papers is a critical parody not only of Lucky Jim, but of a whole subgenre of writing about youth and its illusions. This kind of novel is ripe for caricature precisely because its features have hardened into a recognizable set of clichés: the uncouth but lovable narrator, for instance, whose rough exterior is a defense mechanism in response to the perceived injustices of the world.

While there are numerous novels that fall into this subgenre, two in particular stand out in the period preceding The Rachel Papers: Lucky Jim, as I have already mentioned, and The Catcher in the Rye. Amis never mentions the latter directly, but Charles does say on several occasions that he has been "reading a lot of American fiction," and it is not a long shot to suggest that Rachel's on-again, off-again American boyfriend DeForest has echoes of Holden Caulfield. For Martin Amis, the disjunction between tough exterior and sympathetic core is ripe for critique. The implication is that we, as readers, see past these defense mechanisms in order to perceive that, beneath the angry countenance they present to the world, characters like Holden Caulfield and Jim Dixon are really romantics, misled into unhappiness by a mixture of cynicism and bad faith. Amis sees this gesture as encouraging a falsely sentimental view of youth, one that overlooks its stupidity and capacity for narcissism.

Charles Highway is the antidote to such mawkish sentimentality. Seeing the imminent arrival of his twentieth birthday as the entrance point into maturity, Charles sets out to make the most of his remaining time as a teenager. He moves from his family's home to live with his sister, Jenny, and her boorish husband, Norman, in order to attend a school designed to help him get into Oxford University. Central to his farewell to his youth is his desire to sleep with an Older Woman, and that is where Rachel comes into the picture. Not that Charles is desperate to lose his virginity - indeed, he already has a more-than-willing casual partner in Gloria, and the reader discovers that he has had sex with several other women, often followed by painful bouts of sexually transmitted diseases. But the seduction of Rachel is presented as a meaningful Goal, an encounter with an Older Woman, experienced and knowledgeable. Of course, the issue of Rachel's age turns out to be farcical, since she is barely older than Charles, turning twenty herself during the course of their brief affair.

The Rachel Papers is an unpleasant read (what book by Amis isn't?), but this horribleness is strategic. Amis takes aim at every sentimental preconception we might have about his youthful protagonist, emphasizing in particular the vulgarity of Charles's body as he spits ("hawks"), leaks, squeezes, and vomits his way through the story. Charles is apparently not squeamish about any taboos, revealing his incestuous feelings toward his sister, for example, sniffing Rachel's dirty underwear, and theorizing calmly that, based on his tastes and level of sensitivity, he "ought" to be homosexual, thus turning his enthusiasm for women itself into a kind of perversion. Amis shuts down any avenue for seeing his protagonist as a misunderstood romantic: from his sexual behavior to his intellectual pursuits, the reader has the sense that Charles knows exactly what he is doing and how revolting he really is.

The one remaining illusion for Charles seems to be that life will change once he becomes an adult, an assumption that seems to come true when, in his Oxford interview, the professor neatly pulls apart the contradictions and intellectual misappropriations in Charles's arguments about which no one had previously dared to challenge him. But even Prof. Knowd's incisive assessment of Charles's abilities and shortcomings does not represent real maturity, but instead a sort of advanced pissing contest that suggests adulthood is a complicated continuation of, rather than a genuine break from, the immaturity of youth. The Rachel Papers is at its best when its focus is on this intellectual context. In recent interviews, Amis himself has said that the main shortcoming he sees when reflecting back on his debut novel is how awkwardly the plot unfolds. The novel does meander along at times, and there were moments when I thought that this book would have made a better short story - tighter and more focused - than a full-length novel. I can't say that I loved The Rachel Papers, but my own experience has been that it has provided much food for thought, and that, rather than pure entertainment, is the sign of good fiction.
3 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on December 12, 2014
No other Amis novels read, so nothing to compare this one to. But it lived up to the reviews I read. I'm a little old to be reading coming of age novels, but never too old to be amused--or share my admiration for some very good English prose.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on October 3, 2014
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. It's hilarious and I vaguely remember acting quite like this main character. Unfortunately.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on October 7, 2015
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
|0Comment|Report abuse