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Martin Amis


British novelist, essayist and short story writer.
Martin Amis
'Beautifully written . . . the webs of imagery that Harris has so carefully woven . . . contains writing of which our best writers would be proud . . . there is not a singly ugly or dead sentence . . .' - or so sang the critics. Hannibal is a genre novel, and all genre novels contain dead sentences - unless you feel the throb of life in such periods as 'Tommaso put the lid back on the cooler' or 'Eric Pickford answered' or 'Pazzi worked like a man possessed' or 'Margot laughed in spite of herself' or 'Bob Sneed broke the silence.' What these commentators must be thinking of, I suppose, are the bits when Harris goes all blubbery and portentous (every other phrase a spare tyre), or when, with a fugitive poeticism, he swoons us to a dying fall: 'Starling looked for a moment through the wall, past the wall, out to forever and composed herself...' 'It seemed forever ago...' 'He looked deep, deep into her eyes...' 'His dark eyes held her whole...' Needless to say, Harris has become a serial murderer of English sentences, and Hannibal is a necropolis of prose.
Amis quotes
Does screen violence provide a window or a mirror? Is it an effect or a cause, an encouragement, a facilitation? Fairly representatively, I think, I happen to like screen violence while steadily execrating its real-life counterpart. Moreover, I can tell the difference between the two. One is happening, one is not.
Amis
September 11 was a day of de-Enlightenment. Politics stood revealed as a veritable Walpurgis Night of the irrational. And such old, old stuff. The conflicts we now face or fear involve opposed geographical arenas, but also opposed centuries or even millennia. It is a landscape of ferocious anachronisms: nuclear jihad in the Indian subcontinent; the medieval agonism of Islam; the Bronze Age blunderings of the Middle East.




Amis Martin quotes
Style is not neutral; it gives moral directions.
Amis Martin
By calling him humourless I mean to impugn his seriousness, categorically: such a man must rig up his probity ex nihilo.
Martin Amis quotes
All publicity isn't good publicity. As a New York publicist put it: "What: the guy's an asshole so I'll go and buy his novel?"
Martin Amis
Like all "acts of terrorism" (easily and unsubjectively defined as organised violence against civilians), September 11 was an attack on morality: we felt a general deficit. Who, on September 10, was expecting by Christmastime to be reading unscandalised editorials in the Herald Tribune about the pros and cons of using torture on captured "enemy combatants"? Who expected Britain to renounce the doctrine of nuclear no-first-use? Terrorism undermines morality. Then, too, it undermines reason. ... No, you wouldn't expect such a massive world-historical jolt, which will reverberate for centuries, to be effortlessly absorbed. But the suspicion remains that America is not behaving rationally that America is behaving like someone still in shock.
Amis Martin quotes
Like all obsessions, Ballard's novel is occasionally boring and frequently ridiculous. The invariance of its intensity is not something the reviewer can easily suggest. Ballard is quite unlike anyone else; indeed, he seems to address a different - a disused - part of the reader's brain. You finish the book with some bafflement and irritation. But this is only half the experience. You then sit around waiting for the novel to come and haunt you. And it does.
Amis
The trouble with life (the novelist will feel) is its amorphousness, its ridiculous fluidity. Look at it: thinly plotted, largely themeless, sentimental and ineluctably trite. The dialogue is poor, or at least violently uneven. The twists are either predictable or sensationalist. And it's always the same beginning; and the same ending ...
Amis Martin
In the end one cannot avoid the conclusion that AIDS unites certain human themes homosexuality, sexual disease, and death about which society actively resists enlightenment. These are things that we are unwilling to address or even think about. We don't want to understand them. We would rather fear them.
Martin Amis
They can't ban or burn Larkin's books. What they can embark on is the more genteel process of literary demotion.




Martin Amis quotes
While clearly an impregnable masterpiece, Don Quixote suffers from one fairly serious flaw - that of outright unreadability. This reviewer should know, because he has just read it. The book bristles with beauties, charm, sublime comedy; it is also, for long stretches (approaching about 75 per cent of the whole), inhumanly dull.... Reading Don Quixote can be compared to an indefinite visit from your most impossible senior relative, with all his pranks, dirty habits, unstoppable reminiscences, and terrible cronies. When the experience is over, and the old boy checks out at last (on page 846 - the prose wedged tight, with no breaks for dialogue), you will shed tears all right: not tears of relief but tears of pride. You made it, despite all that Don Quixote could do.
Martin Amis
Weapons are like money; no one knows the meaning of enough.
Amis quotes
The reaction against Larkin has been unprecedentedly violent as well as unprecedentedly hypocritical, tendentious and smug. Its energy does not, could not derive from literature it derives from ideology, or from the vaguer promptings of a new ethos. ... This is critical revisionism in an eye-catching new outfit. The reaction, like most reactions, is just an overreaction, and to get an overreaction you need plenty of overreactors somebody has to do it. ... I remember thinking when I saw the fiery Tom Paulin's opening shot, We're not really going to do this, are we? But the new ethos was already in place, and yes, we really were going to do this on Paulin's terms, too. His language set the tone for the final assault and mop-up, which came with the publication of Andrew Motion's, Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life. Revolting. Sewer. Such language is essentially unstable. It calls for a contest of the passions and hopes that the fight will get dirty.
Amis Martin
It was the advent of the second plane, sharking in low over the Statue of Liberty: that was the defining moment. Until then, America thought she was witnessing nothing more serious than the worst aviation disaster in history; now she had a sense of the fantastic vehemence ranged against her.
Amis Martin quotes
Exploitative is the key word here. It suggests that while you are free to be as sexually miserable as you like, the moment you exchange hard cash for a copy of Playboy, you are in the pornography perpetuation business, and your misery becomes political.
The truth is that pornography is just a sad affair all around. It is there because men in their hundreds of millions want it to be there. Killing pornography is like killing the messenger. The extent to which Larkin was "dependent" on pornography should be a measure our pity, or even our sympathy. But Motion hears the beep of his political pager, and he stands to attention.
Martin Amis
One of the historical vulnerabilities of literature, as a subject for study, is that it has never seemed difficult enough. This may come as news to the buckled figure of the book reviewer, but it's true. Hence the various attempts to elevate it, complicate it, systematize it. Interacting with literature is easy.
Martin Amis quotes
This moment was the apotheosis of the postmodern era the era of images and perceptions. Wind conditions were also favourable; within hours, Manhattan looked as though it had taken 10 megatons.
Martin Amis
Not greatly gifted, not deeply beautiful, Madonna tells America that fame comes from wanting it badly enough. And everyone is terribly good at badly wanting things.
Amis Martin
One of the many things I do not understand about Americans is this: what is it like to be a citizen of a superpower, to maintain democratically the means of planetary extinction. I wonder how this contributes to the dreamlife of America, a dreamlife that is so deep and troubled.


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