Top positive review
The craftsmanship is just beautiful. As for the story...
on 30 November 2016
Martin Amis’s The Information is not, as some reviewers claim, a fictionalized tell-all about the publishing industry. Instead, it is about human nature, e.g. jealousy, egomania, and revenge, and how authors, often held up as gurus or immortals, are just as petty and biologically driven as supposedly lower forms. The story involves two writers, Gwyn Barry and Richard Tull, both mid-life, both long-time friends, until a wedge is driven into their relationship when Gwyn pens a vacuous book (Amelior) the public finds deep and Richard…, well, Richard struggles, scraping by with book reviews and vanity publishing and hoping someone will read his unreadable novel (Untitled – that’s the title) while he lives off his wife’s earnings and spends much of his time drinking, smoking, and scheming against his much more successful one-time pal. During The Information, Amis often draws parallels between characters and events and various aspects of and theories in cosmology, perhaps to emphasize the pettiness or futility of human actions. These scientific forays and poetic analogies are themselves paralleled or countered by the rough talk of a group of East End goons that Richard calls on for some help. Amis’s prose in The Information is exquisite, nearly every sentence a crackling work of art. The novel is more subdued than Money or London fields, more mature, more consistent, more professional. The craftsmanship is just beautiful. The story, however,…. In a sense, it doesn’t matter. The prose is that exceptional, but I expected more to happen and agree with an old review from The Independent that in some ways the novel doesn’t really add up. Still, it’s hard to believe some consider this book bad. Amis is probably the finest writer in the English language since Shakespeare and this is one finely written novel. Maybe I would have liked to see more happen in the story, but The Information did what all Amis novels do: it made me want to read more Martin Amis.
Troy Parfitt is the author of War Torn: Adventures in the Brave New Canada