Martin Amis writes like no other. His prose is dense with original imagery. His mastery of the English language is dumbfounding. But there is enough humour and character to stop it all feeling self indulgent or over literary. This is the first of his books I have read -- many say it is the best -- but I want to read more.
A beautiful piece of writing, the words are wielded with great skill, and I'll miss John Self, I really will, and that is the hallmark of an excellent, indeed ideal read. If you love words, you will live this.
It took me about 100 pages to fully get to grips with Amis' style and to get hooked on the story and I can understand why some people might have bailed before they got so far. John Self isn't an immediately likeable character but I did find that I developed a grim fascination with when the car-wreck of his life would finally spin completely out of control and as such a sense of attachment to him.
What surprised me was that there was a fully fledged plot. Generally this style doesn't appeal to me as it's often all style and no substance, but such was not the case here. The style is a vehicle to get us in to Self's head and it works so well once you get to grips with it.
After building in what seems like an almost accidental way for a couple of hundred pages the story shifts gear and I found that I genuinely couldn't put the book down once I'd reached the 300-mark. It all just comes together so perfectly, the style doesn't change but it feels as if the narrative previously hidden in the hectic style gets thrown in to relief and every word is painfully relevant.
I cannot express how important it is that you finish reading this book before claiming to have a valid opinion about it. It is now, surprisingly and forever, one of my favourites.
I cannot imagine anyone not enjoying this book. An intriguing plot, highly entertaining characters and a totally engaging style kept me hooked as the hero jetted drunkenly between London and New York as the unwitting victim of a most unusual scam. Excellent stuff!
And if you've enjoyed 'Money' why not take a look at the novel linked below? Maybe not everyone's cup of tea but I think it's well worth a read!
This was recommended to me by a friend, and I wouldn't have read it otherwise. I have mixed feelings about this. By far my biggest grip is the excessive length of the book. And is it style, to jump from scene to scene, back and forth, is that supposed to be cool? The characters are so dislikeable, I cannot help but feel i sunk too many hours of my life in this thing. On the positive side, some parts are really witty, punchy and inappropriately fun, but at the end of the day, it's hard to root for a book where the main character is such a miserable, insignificant creature.
Amis's punchy narrative, infused with colloquial wordplay and urban street talk, complements his hero's (the intriguingly named John Self) socially schizophrenic lifestyle. Self is launched into the money rich pseudo reality of the film industry bumping backwards and forwards between the pub based childhood memories of his London origins and a New York fantasy world of strip joints and intoxication. I found the author's style highly engaging, packed with comic material (fruit machine rage, junk food diets, Martin Amis) and themes of a dark cynical nature. I enjoyed the historical backdrop: allusions to the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana in contrast to news of serious rioting in London. The characters inhabiting both urban settings are hilarious, scheming, self-indulgent egotists and caricatures of attention seeking celebrity, society's misfits and money obsessed grifters. And how I laughed! I had to put the book down on several occasions due to passages such as the one describing Self's driving paranoia. This was the first Amis I had read and it took me a few pages to get on the right `wavelength' and enjoy the rhythm of Amis's literary style. For Self the status and prestige bought by money and the blinkered desire to have money are shown to be a destructive cycle of self inflicted physical and mental abuse, sexploitation and violence. I don't think Self is a nice person but his story is deeply funny.
This is a novel written in the early 80's and is one long monologue about money and what chasing money, having money( and not having money) does to John Self the central character. He is a successful Ad director but at heart a fast talking East end boozing womaniser addicted to fast food and porno. And if you still like him, he beats up women, tends to be a racist, and hates gays... and horror of horror smokes. But he does have a turbulent broth of family relationships to deal with!
This could be an echo of real life as Martin Amis had a troubled relationship with his father Kingsley Amis. Who incidentally was critical of the device of having the author as a character in the story which allows Martin to take some sly digs at the pretensions of writers and writing.
John Self meets a producer in New York and spins him a story based on his own life (drunkard father, two timing mother, time waster son) and is then embroiled in the nightmare of putting the money, script and casting together. He lurches between New York and London loving money and suffering from excesses of drink, food and sex and looses girlfriend, friends and family along the way in a glorious buffoon way.
As he tries to deal with actor's egos, money men demands and scripts he is also hounded by a stalker . Or is he? We can only understand what john understands and as he is drinking several bottles of whiskies on week long benders he is a little hazy some times on the details. During the story we get to find out what the truth of his rise to the Money as well as family secrets and who cheats who.
As the novel is set up to be a long suicide note you can sense the depths of his pain. So is this a gloomy, slash your wrist Leonard Cohen fun feast? No it's a very funny and savage satire on money, money and money and oh the film industry. Normally, I dislike first person novels but I strongly recommended this one.