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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It demands to be read
The first time I read this, I hated it. It seemed self-indulgent, pointless, unrealistic, unbelievable, and far, far too long.
Now, several years later, spurred on by Amis's return to form with the wonderful "Experience", I thought I'd give it another try. And what a pleasant surprise. Yes, I stand by my claim that it is far too long. It could easily have...
Published on 15 Oct 2001 by Peter Higgins

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2.0 out of 5 stars The Curious Case of Martin Amis
A supremely gifted young man crippled by demons: that's how the author comes across in The Information.

Martin Amis is arguably the ablest writer in English since the war. Unfortunately, he is decidedly not a great novelist. His energy, intelligence and creative wit are unparalleled: nobody worries the language so determinedly, so responsibly: eliminating...
Published 8 months ago by Enobarbus


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It demands to be read, 15 Oct 2001
This review is from: The Information (Paperback)
The first time I read this, I hated it. It seemed self-indulgent, pointless, unrealistic, unbelievable, and far, far too long.
Now, several years later, spurred on by Amis's return to form with the wonderful "Experience", I thought I'd give it another try. And what a pleasant surprise. Yes, I stand by my claim that it is far too long. It could easily have lost 100 pages, and been much tighter and more exciting as a result. Otherwise, however, it is witty, clever, endlessly surprising and at times hysterically funny ("Unfortunately I am terminally ill").
Amis has always been a writer in love with language, and "The Information" sees him almost drowning in words. There are far too many of them. Far too many descriptions of clouds, planets, stars, seemingly endless sojourns with largely irrelevant low-life characters and their artlessly-depicted speech patterns. But just when you think he's lost it, he finds it, and you remember why there really is no one else quite like him. Certainly the rash of young male writers who rose to power after his golden age (from "Success" to "London Fields", inclusively) would kill to write half as well. Because when Amis is on form - and for about seventy five per cent of this, he is - then he remains untouchable. The story - a simple one - at times a ludicrously simple one - plays out over a background of hilarious failure (Richard Tull's) and irritating success (Gwyn Barry). The depiction of life at the farthest margins of London's literary scene ("The Little Magazine", The Tantalus Press) is hilarious and spot-on. The running gag of Richard's novel and its deleterious effect on its (very few) readers is hilarious. The vile Barry is perfectly drawn.
If only Amis had read none of the reviews of his last "major" work ("London Fields") all of which praised his melding of low and high culture to such a degree that it must have really gone to his head, forcing him to insert unnecessary scenes involving frankly unbelievable low-life (there is no one here to rival the amazing Keith Talent) who really have so little to do with the action, they might as well not be there at all.
Amis is a great writer. Perhaps he is even the best we have. This is not his best book, but it contains some of his best writing. It demands to be read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Information, 21 May 2010
By 
Dave Gilmour's cat (on Dave Gilmour's boat) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Information (Hardcover)
Information about The Information: it's a great book. Not Martin Amis's best (that's Money), but not too far off. This is essentially a darkly comic tragedy and a wry look at human vanity, jealousy and insecurity. Some of the writing is very, very funny indeed. Amis tackles the mid-life crisis full on, and the realization of mortality (and our place in the cosmic scheme of things) seems to underpin almost everything in the book. He also satirises the literary world to great effect, placing Richard Tull's demanding modernist fiction at one end of the scale, and Gwyn Barry's artless, clichéd 'trex' at the other. Then there are the running jokes about the effect of reading Richard's book on its (very few) readers, the endless biographies of minor literary figures that Tull is forced to review, and the humiliating ways authors are forced to promote and hype (thus cheapening) their wares.

Some people say this novel is too long. I like it this way, as the finely honed tragedy is allowed to unfold over a greater distance, this becoming even more pitiful and wretched. I would have been happy for a few more hundred pages. It's a wonderfully rich, sprawling work crammed with dazzlingly inventive sentences and ideas.

I have now read it twice and enjoyed it even more on the second go.

If you like Money and London Fields, you'll enjoy this.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a masterpiece, but a lot better than most bestsellers., 12 Oct 2002
By 
A. van Gelderen "Anna van Gelderen" (the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Information (Paperback)
Be warned: this book is not everybody's cup of tea. An appreciation of black, irreverent humour is absolutely essential if you want to enjoy this novel and it is no wonder that a lot of people find it infuriating and outrageous. Everybody does seem to agree, however, that it is very well-written.
First of all let me tell you what the book is about. Protagonist Richard Tull is a pretentious, but sensationally unsuccesful novelist - plus a chainsmoker and an alcholic with a harrowing midlife crisis. His novels are so unreadable that nobody makes it past page 10 without developing at least one mysterious ailment. So when the bland, improbably inoffensive novels of his dim friend Gwyn hit the bestseller lists and Gwyn gets the celebrity, wealth and trophy wife that go with beststellerdom something snaps in Richard. He now has only one goal left in life: f*****g up Gwyn. Contemplating the several ways he can go about doing this, Richard runs into Steve, a screwed-up, sadistic drugdealer and as it happens not only his only fan but also the only reader able to make it past the first dozen or so pages. Of course this is a set-up for disaster, but of the comic not the tragic kind.
So, all this sounds like fun. And it is, several passages are downright laugh-out-loud funny, especially if you read them in context...
But the book is also dark and pessimistic. The London that provides most of its background is a crowded city full of filth and violence. Neither Richard nor Gwyn is likeable. The publishing world is a scream. And human is life is nothing, absolutely nothing from a cosmic point of view, as the author keeps pointing out. The low-life characters such as Steve, 13 and Darko are unconvincing and superfluous. But is the book depressing? Not to me; the exuberant wit, the great writing and the incisive original thinking save it from itself. Not a masterpiece, not even the best Amis ("Money" is better), but definitely a great deal more worthwhile than most bestsellers.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Envy, hate, lust, pain, & guilt, 18 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Information (Paperback)
When you were at school and a certain kid always got the praise, the love, the admiration and the gold stars. Did you want to be him: or did you want to re-house the blackboard eraser, where only the Colonic experts at Guys Hospital, could dream of relocating it. The Information speaks of the traits in all of us, the once we don't have the nerve to acklowedge. Its a challenge but only because it twists like a eplileptic sea snake. Nice one Martin, keep them comming.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughter in the Dark, 1 Nov 2006
This review is from: The Information (Paperback)
I truly enjoyed this sad and funny book, which explores the interaction between two old Oxford friends -- Richard Tull, a failed and impotent cult writer, and Gwyn Barry, a best-selling author of mindless utopian trash. Further, Amis does a great job in the last section of the book, when the perspective shifts from Tull's futility to Barry's cruelty. This entire section was a surprise but also, on reflection, character-driven inevitability. It's super work.

Even so, does anyone else feel that Amis writes a tad long? In the middle of "The Information" I found myself pushing ahead, fearful that I might lose interest and not finish. Then, I found myself stopping to reread great bits from Amis that I had rushed over. Here's one: "Belladonna was a punk. That is to say, she had gone at herself as if to obliterate the natural gifts. Her mascara she wore like a burglar's eye-mask; her lipstick was approximate and sanguinary, her black hair spiked and looped and asymmetrical, like the pruned trees outside the window. Punk was physical democracy. And it said: let's all be ugly together."

Two good descriptive words for Amis are brilliant and exasperating. But do we really need so much of the character Scozzy?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An a b s o l u t e must-read!, 18 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Information (Paperback)
Dark but extremely funny with a protagonist you can both despise and sympathize with.
Living is not easy, but when you're misunderstood, lack both talent(?) and willpower and are envious and vendictive - it's hell. Amis makes this very clear in his inimitable way with a rich set of characters you'll quickly learn to fear or hate, and sometimes even like.
This is the ultimate Amis book. READ!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult, 23 Sep 2012
By 
Stephan William Hawthorne "menorcabook" (menorca balearics) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Information (Paperback)
By far the most difficult of all his books that I have read. I am a great fan . Maybe the subject is also writing difficult books. One hardly knows what is going on. What happened at the end ? I will read it again as one reviewer said was needed.
So Amis is maybe both of the men, he is both Richard and Gwyn. Neither are likeable according to other reviewers. But why not ? Like Amis both are Oxford educated.The language is astounding and by far the most difficult of all his books. He plays with us readers in that a lot, so much, is repetitive. Why is that? And often why? And the big deal about the information?
All life is information.
It is not so dark? But then London is everywhere, like in his other books and the Notting Hill of where he did his writing.
I will study this more because like James Joyce it is difficult and then Richard's novel gave everyone a headache after page 9 . Why did Crash? Steve read it all?. Odd and odder we will wriTe more akimbo and anon.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Unbearable Sameness of Amis..., 12 Mar 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Information (Paperback)
Let me start by saying that Martin Amis is quite brilliant, intellectually that is. His work is multi-layered and you'll discover a word you've never seen before every few pages, although he overdoes it - you don't need to call a speaker an 'interlocutor' unless it's Latin translation.
However this brilliance can dazzle and blind. Abstraction and metaphor are all very well but at times you are left wondering, 'what the heck's going on?'
Private Eye has said that Amis's novels are about Amis being very clever, period; and that's spot on.
In saying that I enjoyed The Information and it is of course brilliantly constructed, written and narrated.
However.... the story is about a successful writer and an unsuccessful writer (who earns a crust reviewing erudite literary pieces) both living in London.
Now, this is just Amis and his alter-ego! Indeed Amis was a reviewer for The New Statesman and others before he became famous and successful.
(I'm also reading Amis's 'Against Cliches', a compendium of his reviews where he trashes Waugh's Brideshead and only seems to hold Nabokov in any regard (hero worship in fact)).
Also in The Information are two little sons, one of whom has behavioural issues - just like Marmaduke the violent baby boy in London Fields (where the protagonist is also a writer).
London Fields and The Information also heavily feature Amis's star gazing. He loves to quote astronomical facts and figures. Interesting, yes, but he does it again in both books even describing a female's attractiveness as akin to a black hole's infinite gravitational pull: 'no one can escape me'.
You get the picture I'm sure.
So, the questions are these: Is Amis a great storyteller? No. Is he the master of the English novel? Probably. Is he worth reading? Definitely, but only selectively.
Less is more with the great man.
JP :)
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2.0 out of 5 stars The Curious Case of Martin Amis, 19 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Information (Paperback)
A supremely gifted young man crippled by demons: that's how the author comes across in The Information.

Martin Amis is arguably the ablest writer in English since the war. Unfortunately, he is decidedly not a great novelist. His energy, intelligence and creative wit are unparalleled: nobody worries the language so determinedly, so responsibly: eliminating clichés, challenging all forms of sloppy or tired expression, forcing words to work to the greatest possible extent. Reading Amis's prose is at times as exhilarating as reading Chaucer or Shakespeare or Dickens: you feel the language being renewed, re-animated, taken in exciting new directions.

But although often he says it brilliantly, Amis has nothing to say. The Information is a less-disciplined rerun of Money, another excursion into boundless self-loathing and misanthropy. There is not a single human being in the book. Every character is a sounding board for Amis's myopic contempt for mankind; there is something Swiftian, pathological, in his spleen. Amis is not a satirist because there is nothing positive against which he measures the follies and vices of his various rogues, swindlers and fools. If there is an epic backcloth, it is provided by the half-digested cosmological data which convinces the novelist that human life is insignificant and meaningless.

Nihilism is contemptible not because it is grim and makes us feel uncomfortable but because it is manifestly sentimental: an escape from human responsibility into maudlin self-pity and cynicism. That so much work, such talent, should have been applied in the service of so slight a contribution to human understanding would be criminal if it didn't seem to be a case of arrested development. Whatever damaged the young Amis did the world a tragic disservice.

That said, anyone who wants to write well should read this book again and again; it is a primer in the effective exploitation of the language.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book made me laugh out loud on the Tube., 20 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Information (Paperback)
Amis is occassionally a little self-indulgent, but this is an hilarious read. It's full of insights into strands of English (and often specifically London) life, including the divergence of class and wealth, fatherhood and impotence. Fantastically well-observed dark humour.
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The Information
The Information by Martin Amis (Paperback - 4 Sep 2008)
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