6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A great novel start, excellent middle, but in the end back to typical Amis self loathing,
This review is from: House of Meetings (Paperback)
With House of Meetings Martin Amis has at last put down his distorting lens. With the unarguable reality of his subject matter - the Siberian gulag - what is left to distend? Only the faint but imperishable joys of human imagination can grace such a heartless state inspired depravity. And here, at last, Amis serves himself a dish greatly to his relish and taste. Utilising wonderfully subtle hyperbole, he creates a Russian alter-ego whose self-awareness unshackles the author's usual authorial straightjacket.
Sensitive yet violent, his narrator symbolically represents that strange ambiguity of Russian power, whether personal or political. In a language of rich beauty he discovers where all is lost, in a sense everything else is gained and rare for Amis, not least a voice of buoyancy.
But be warned, in the gulag the writer is still in his element. In place of the usual narrative morbidity we have the refined voice of a resilient brute whose ultimate act of destructiveness somehow represents the withering insecurity of the Amis paranoia. This closes up an otherwise excellent book in a typical fetish of `male anxiety' and justifiable self-loathing.
In sum great writing, even a great book; but sadly let down by the author's flawed finale squeezing out its loftier potential. The arch miserablist remains intact.