House of Meetings Paperback – 4 Oct 2007
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"This novella is the best thing Martin Amis has done in fiction for years: very complex, very forceful, startling in the amount of ground it covers, and densely and intelligently put together" (Sam Leith Literary Review)
"An ambitious feat...the result is brilliant" (Catherine Merridale Independent)
"It is difficult not to be impressed by this compact tour de force... Amis has produced a memorable novel and a memorable protagonist" (Toby Lichtig Observer)
"A singular, unimpeachable triumph" (The Economist)
"Unmistakably Amis's best novel since London Fields...a slender, moving novel, streaked with dark comedy" (Robert MacFarlane Sunday Times)
'Terrific... Painful, trenchant, and elegantly written' Lionel Shriver, Daily TelegraphSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
But in HOUSE OF MEETINGS, Mart gives his fans a twist. This time, he takes this same dynamic and imagines its expression between two brothers in Soviet Russia, the older a soldier brutalized by his experiences in World War II. In HOUSE OF MEETINGS, Mart asks whether this dynamic, which drove the lives of his characters in 1980's London and New York, could withstand years of slave labor in Stalin's Gulag.
One Amazon.com wag (the review has disappeared) called this book ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF MARTIN AMISOVITCH. Mart's fans who read HOUSE OF MEETINGS will see this comment is spot-on, since this novel explores such familiar Amis themes as male competition, loveless sex, retribution, and bad teeth, this time in heavy-handed Soviet society. It's fascinating stuff and the writing, especially in the first and last sections, is brilliant.
One word of warning: The experience of reading this book is similar to reading EVERYMAN, the latest from Philip Roth. I'd call each novel a short, flawless, and mesmerizing page turner. But neither book is happy reading, even with the guilt plagued narrator of HOUSE OF MEETINGS finally earning profound but ironic praise from his younger brother.
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.
Amis is a postmodernist writer with a conscience whether its the environment ('London Fields) or harming effects of capitalism ('Money') and in this 'short novel'he considers the prison camps of Stalin and the long term effects this imprisonment has on the narrator and his brother. Both brothers are in love with the same girl and the novel traces the fight to possess her but also the fight to stay alive and what humans are capable of when they are reduced to animal-like status.
Brilliantly written, moving, tragic and oddly contemporary in his observations of the abuse of power and injust imprisonment (Quantanamo anyone?) this is quality Amis. My only problem with being that I wished it could have been a little longer and I was sure there was meant to be two other stories with it? Where did they get to Martin?
Found this novel at times brilliant, deep and moving, esp. on camp life itself, his comparing Soviet with Nazi philosophies underpinning their creation of such zones, and a feast to read thanks to MA’s formidable linguistic skills. Plenty of his comparisons, allusions, quotations, and other similes and word plays are original and spot-on, effective and relevant. But there were also patches this reader could not make sense of, whole paragraphs and stretches of dialogue where MA seems caught up in a flow of diversions of his own, making the old storyteller a hard act to follow. This was my second reading in ten years. A third is unlikely to give me more insight.
Finally, for once I spied on other reviewers to see if anyone else ever commented on one aspect of the story teller’s character: male-to-male jealousy, the intense curiosity of a male about his female lover’s former lovers, portrayed tragi-comically by Julian Barnes in 1982 in his “Before she met me”. Here, Amis terms such a condition as covert or latent homosexuality. Weren’t he and Barnes good old friends for a long time? When did it end? Before 2006 or after? Today there is revenge porn. Was this revenge prose?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a lovely written and well researched piece of fiction about a former soldier and prisoner who is now in his “high eighties” and is looking back over his time as both. Read morePublished 8 months ago by keen reader
There were conjugal visits in the slave camps of the USSR. Valiant women would travel continental distances, over weeks and months, in the hope of spending a... Read more
I bought this in hardback from the £1 shop, and can honestly say it was grossly overpriced. I can only remember giving up on two books before, one of them was Yellow Dog, the other... Read morePublished on 8 Jun. 2012 by M. R. Dangerfield
Being an Amis virgin I must review my response to House of Meetings without reference to previous works. Read morePublished on 25 Nov. 2011 by Mick Read
The house of meetings is a hut where conjugal visits were allowed in the latter part of the Soviet Gulag era. Read more
A tale of Stalinism and brotherly love, House of Meetings is a book that, once it hooks you, never lets you go. Read morePublished on 4 Aug. 2011 by The Outsider
Martin Amis must have been feeling miserable when he wrote this book because misery seeps from every page. Read morePublished on 5 Aug. 2010 by Pauline Butcher Bird
House of Meetings Ok, Martin Amis is a talented writer but ...... what is it about the contemporary literary novel that the authors seem to regard the story as irrelevant! Read morePublished on 30 July 2010 by J. P. Mckenna
There is so much of excellence in this terrible book, you really ought to read it. It is not, as Woody Allen said War and Peace was, "about Russia". Read morePublished on 7 Jan. 2010 by E. Clarke