Diedrick has written an extremely helpful guide to the work of Martin Amis that should satisfy both academics and casual readers who are looking to deepen their understanding of Amis' often highly allusive fiction. Diedrick's writing is crisp and insightful, and the many strands of Amis' thought are followed with a thoroughness that captures the complexity of his novels without oversimplifying them. So deftly written are Diedrick's discussions of each novel that just about any of the paragraphs could easily warrant a book-length treatment on its own. Students will have much to plunder.
As a longtime reader of Amis', I enjoyed the thoughtful discussions of complex novels like "Money", "London Fields" and "The Information". The attention to the structure of these novels is a great help in unraveling their mysteries, as are the passages outlining Amis' dialogue with nineteenth century luminaries like Dickens and the Romantics. The early books are not overlooked; "The Rachel Papers", one of my favorites, turned out to be a little trickier than I'd thought, while "Other People"-- undoubtedly the most maddeningly convoluted of all the novels-- was made less obscure. (Alas, even Diedrick cannot make me a believer in the insipid "Dead Babies".)
Of special interest is the running examination of Amis' view of masculinity. Amis is often carelessly dismissed by many critics as the father of "lad lit", a smirking mysoginist beyond reconstruction, and I was pleased to see that Diedrick cut through the "bad boy controversy" to illuminate Amis' multivalenced depiction of the modern male (particularly in the new fine new chapter on "Yellow Dog"). This is one of Amis' primary subjects, and almost all of his books deal with the problem of masculinity in some form or another. Diedrick shows that on this topic Amis is hardly as simple as he seems, and certainly less risible.
Importantly, Diedrick's studies also draw on Amis' other writing, such as his journalism and criticism, which is often the best starting point for deciphering the novels, as artistic and philosophic themes move freely between his fiction and non-fiction. The comprehensive use of secondary writing to explain the novels is unsurprising, as Diedrick edited Amis' volume of criticism, the excellent but rather unfortunately titled collection "The War Against Cliche".
If Amis is truly trying to "cover the world in fiction", as one of his book jackets proclaims, Diedrick has provided a learned, engaging and, indeed, indispensible road map.