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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book I Have Ever Read
I can't believe I'm the first person to review this book!
The books narator, Charles Highway, is the most charasmatic and endearing charactor in a book since Holden Caufield. The story he tells is a simple one concerning a short time in a young mans life when he has his first proper realtionship. The basic storyline - Charles vows to have a sexual relationship...
Published on 22 Jun 2000

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3.0 out of 5 stars Defiantly Adolescent
The Rachel Papers was first published in 1973. As an up-and-coming literary critic, with a famous novelist father and a job on the TLS, Martin Amis's debut novel was always going to set the literati aflutter. The book itself was an assured performance and one that openly signposted the themes Amis would rework over the next forty-years. It may be a defiantly adolescent...
Published 12 months ago by s k


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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book I Have Ever Read, 22 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Rachel Papers (Paperback)
I can't believe I'm the first person to review this book!
The books narator, Charles Highway, is the most charasmatic and endearing charactor in a book since Holden Caufield. The story he tells is a simple one concerning a short time in a young mans life when he has his first proper realtionship. The basic storyline - Charles vows to have a sexual relationship with an older women before he reaches 20, and is prepared to use every means possible to impress the girl he finds (Rachel).
The books is funny and witty as well as touching. Don't be put off by the crude lanuage, Martin Amis has some serious things to say and his observations on teenage attidutes are frightingly accurate. This is a very relevent book. If you looking for non stop action, then look else where, but if your looking for a funny and moving novel that won't take long to read (but an age to forget) then I can't recommend this enough. Ignore people who say the book is too high on crude sexual content, this is nessary to accuratly portray teenage attidutes to sex. Amis is a very hard hitting writer who doesn't hold back in what he says, so the easily offened may be, well, offended by this book.
This, as the title of my review says, is the best book I have ever read. I admire Amis for his bravery and his ability to create a charater so flawed and then have you almost weeping for him. If you liked The Catcher In The Rye or A Clockwork Orange, you should love this
P x
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ace, 17 Dec 2013
By 
R. Hateley "busy person" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Funny clever entertaining and a bit ridiculous. Honestly portrayed but unpleasant character with shocking insight into sexism and sexual ignorance in 1970s.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still shocks 40 years on, 15 Dec 2013
Very stylish and quite poignant, this novel of middle-class teenage bad behaviour shocks but doesn't really offend as it's all in context. I thought the film had the better ending but it's nowhere near as sordid as the book. Some fabulous set pieces and aphorisms.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book, 1 Dec 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Rachel Papers (Paperback)
This is an astonishing novel to be written by someone in their early twenties---the more so when you realise it was first published in 1973, at the height of English hippie-dom's prog-rock flowering. For this is essentially a punk novel written ahead of its time. It tells the story of Charles Highway's run-up to his twentieth birthday, as he falls for, then plans the seduction of, then abandons, the lovely, eponymous, Rachel.
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.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books, 20 April 2004
By 
T. Blake - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Rachel Papers (Paperback)
I first read this book 6 years ago when I was 16 and I loved it, I've read it many times since and would say it's one of my favourite books, along with Dead Babies, actually. I adore the unrelenting, beautiful crudeness of the descriptions as well as the style of the writing, it constantly impresses Amis' masterful control of the language. Almost every-other line contains an original, precious and quotable, phrase.
I think the people that would enjoy this book the most are possibly males around the same age as, and who identify at least somewhat with, Charles Highway. Ultimately, beyond the hilarity of the prose, it's quite a sad and moving book. It maybe slightly immature for the older reader, but then again, it is exuberantly funny and cleverly written.
The main accusation levelled at Martin Amis about this book is that it is almost entirely autobiographical, a claim he refuted to some degree in Experience. This didn't stop it winning the Somerset Maugham Award, and it won't stop you enjoying this great piece of writing.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very ambivalent and very Amis, 9 May 2003
By 
This review is from: The Rachel Papers (Paperback)
Allright, I will probably be crazy - but I have never read Amis' debut merely as a satire, a funny book or a study of adolescent psychology (or a combination of all that). There are funny parts, sure, but in a very non-funny way. "The Rachel papers" is, all in all, a very touching and sad book.
Charles Highway, the main character, sees no point in life - that's exactly why he seduces Rachel. There's only a sense of meaningless play left, he's an actor in his own life. And it is that kind of vulnarability that shimmers on the pages.
The whole book, the shape, the tone, the language breathes like that, like Charles wants to hide from that, but he can't. Yet, it seems there's some sense in the act of playing too - and that goes for the writer as well. Very ambivalent and very Amis.
Great to see that this kind of brilliance was already present in his debut. Amis rocks!
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4.0 out of 5 stars MARTIN AMIS AT HIS UNDERSTADINGLY BEST, 8 Mar 2014
I often find Martin Amis's hard going, lots of references to literature and Greek mythology, and words that I cannot pronounce let alone understand, but I did enjoy this novel. I would imagine that Charles Highway is similar to Martin Amis himself, I have certainly seen some reference to his problematical teeth. The novel is short enough not to get too bogged down, but long enough to cover the exploits of Charles Highway the narrator in the novel. Amis writes as it is, and goes into detail that somehow make the novel more realistic. An enjoyable read, though not for people easily upset by writing as it is
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 31 Oct 2013
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Not sure whether to have my view labelled as two or three stars. Three stars seems generous for a book which was pretty obviously autobiographical (I read it after reading 'Experience'), and I felt optimistically so. I wondered why it had been published; it seems an unimaginative apprenticeship to writing fiction. Rather tiresome. In fact on reflection, very tiresome.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious & true to life, 7 Sep 2013
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I don't see why other reviewers have such a problem with this book. I am twenty years old: the character in the novel is 19, verging on 20. His experiences in the book (with women, life and university) are similar to my own. This made the book more personal to me and therefore I found it to be all the more enjoyable. Amis perfectly captures the awkward stage of a full grown teenager broaching the threshold of adulthood. Hilarious, charming and sometimes good and dirty! Think no further, buy this book!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Defiantly Adolescent, 9 April 2013
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The Rachel Papers was first published in 1973. As an up-and-coming literary critic, with a famous novelist father and a job on the TLS, Martin Amis's debut novel was always going to set the literati aflutter. The book itself was an assured performance and one that openly signposted the themes Amis would rework over the next forty-years. It may be a defiantly adolescent book, solipsistic and arrogant, over-written and pretentious, but it is also very funny. In fact, its humour redeems it, as there are many flaws, some of which have continued to undermine Amis's oeuvre to this day.

Charles Highway is a nineteen-year-old on the cusp of turning twenty. But before he reaches the 'noisome Brobdingnagian world' of adulthood, he feels a cathartic urge to relate the turmoil of the past few months, a tumultuous period beset by existential terrors. Nevertheless, his primary concern, despite the worries of his Oxford entrance exams and his dysfunctional family, has been the seduction of Rachel Noyes. Their relationship, though, for all its frantic interplay, merely provides Charles with a springboard for his philosophical speculations, puerile rants, and disquisitions on gender. Amusing, yes, but they leave Charles looking increasingly abhorrent, a feeling reiterated by the novel's callous denouement.

As a critic, Amis has always been rather scathing of cliché. The Rachel Papers, however, is strewn with clichés and loose writing. On the very first page we have 'avoids like the plague' followed by the sloppy alliteration of 'haggard hippies' and 'precarious queers getting their caps and crowns'. The novel may be narrated by Charles Highway, and therefore not Martin Amis, but there is rarely much distance between the styles of Amis's narrators and his own acerbic prose. So: is Amis poking fun at Highway's literary pretensions, or are these genuine faults in the text?

Although it is unwise to read a book with the author's life in mind, there is simply too much here to miss. Charles criticises Vanessa for her 'mid-Atlantic accent', yet this is the authorial accent of all Amis's fiction; furthermore, the narrative also pinpoints two of Amis's most enduring foibles: his incapability 'of using words without stylizing' them and having a 'vocabulary more refined than...[his] emotions'. Even so, Amis's youthful cockiness is easily forgiven. The novel may have its blotches, but it was a necessary apprentice work, and one that opened up the pathway to his undisputed masterpiece: Money.
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The Rachel Papers
The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis (Paperback - 13 Aug 2003)
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