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Customer Review

18 of 19 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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