That Mick Jagger was once considered the “Martin Amis of Rock n Roll” should give you an inkling about Amis’s celebrity quotient in his native England. At one point his dental maladies were tabloid news.Although, that bit of bottom feeding journalism was attached to his dismissal of his long time agent (the wife of long time pal Julian Barnes).
I am aware of Amis’s unfortunate publicity magnetism because I have “interviewed”/chatted with him a half dozen times since he published Time’s Arrow or The Nature of the Offence (1991)(some of which are accessible somewhere in the great digital ether. Though I am (still) fascinated by Martin Amis it has recently occurred I really don’t enjoy reading his fiction (The Information excepted).Why then you might (should)ask, do I make a point of reaching out to his publishing publicity aparachiks to arrange some Amis face time? Easy answer, my inquisitive friend,Amis is a supremely engaging conversationalist and a very nimble and original mind. And, incidentally, Amis’s memoir Experience and his various essay anthologies,especially War against the Cliche are well worth reading.
Amis, by the way, has moved to Manhattan,which some snarky commentators might aver was because he had worn out his welcome in London’s civil society. In any case Martin has a news novel coming to the cultural news cycle in September. Not so distant an event that the shiny new Los Angeles Review of Books has found it propitious to publish a 2500 word literary exegesis covering his oeuvre, the recent ill regarded biography of Amis and, naturally, Amis’s new opus Lionel Asbo (Knopf). As averse I am to reading “reviews, Morten Hoi Jensen’s take in his “Mr Amis Planet” is fair-minded and thoughtful:
If Martin Amis hasn’t exactly mellowed with age a certain degree of tenderness has nevertheless entered his more recent work. For all the horrors it chronicled, The House of Meetings was a work of daring human compassion, while The Pregnant Widow took a broad view not just of the sexual revolution and the English novel, but also of ageing (“it’s the death of others that kill you in the end”: hard not to think of Christopher Hitchens, Amis’s dearest friend, when you read that now).
Not to be crass, but that’s the money graf for me.
Stay tuned for my Nth chat with Martin Amis.
Currently reading Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk by Ben Fountain (Ecco)