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Success

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  1,723 ratings  ·  81 reviews
In Success Amis pens a mismatched pair of foster brothers--one "a quivering condom of neurosis and ineptitude," the other a "bundle of contempt, vanity and stock-response"--in a single London flat. He binds them with ties of class hatred, sexual rivalry, and disappointed love, and throws in a disloyal girlfriend and a spectacularly unstable sister to create a modern-day Ja ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published February 16th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1978)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,868)
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Anthony Vacca
While Success may be young Martin Amis at his vilest, it also stands as his first fully realized work as a writer, introducing several themes, narrative tricks and character types which he would go on to develop until they fully flourished in the triptych of masterpieces he wrote from the mid-80’s to the mid-90’s: Money, London Fields, and The Information. Spanning the course of a year, this third novel from everyone’s favorite author who kind of looks like Mick Jagger tells the story of two rep ...more
James
This is a gorgeously written satire about vile people. As other reviewers have mentioned, the fingerprint of Nabokov is all over this work. Lolita springs clearest to mind as a suitably salacious analogue-exemplar which might’ve yoked Amis’ writerly rudder during composition. In this book, however, the horridly eloquent Humbert Humbert voice is transferred onto a pair of foster-brothers, Gregory and Terence, who couldn’t be greater opposites. Gregory is a good-looking, wealthy, entitled snob, co ...more
William1
A powerful and very affecting novel. When the debauched Gregory Riding undertakes the profound sexual humiliation of his step-brother, Terence Service, he turns him from shy wallflower suffering low self-esteem to a wily aggressor seeking revenge. Martin Amis once said at a New York Public Library talk that this book was in part modeled on Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, and you can see echoes of Humbert Humbert's enormous vanity in Gregory. The narrative moves gradually and convincingly from light t ...more
Jonfaith
Success is a possum of a novel. Let me be specific, I don't mean a cute animated creature hamming along with a William Shatner voiceover: Rosebud. I mean the feral variety. Years ago I was leaving a cafe with some friends and turning on the headlights I was startled by a snarling possum glaring at me, threatening me with an ever painful and likely lethal gnawing. I am often bothered by that memory.

Amis bares his teeth in this one, a fifty-fifty approach to diverting fortunes. The narrative begi
...more
Manny

An extremely clever and elegant novel about the subjective nature of success and failure. For once, Amis wraps up the story properly and has a satisfying conclusion.

The sex scene near the end (view spoiler) must rank as both one of the most distasteful and one of the most memorable in recent literature.
Tfitoby
The Terrys of you out there may not appreciate that the portrayal of the working class yob is a painfully accurate caricature (who am I kidding, the Terrys of the world wouldn't read something as intelligent as this) and all you wonderful narcissus types may not see the funny side of watching the positively divine Gregory fall apart but I don't think that should detract from your overall enjoyment.

Martin Amis really is quite the writer, eloquent in the extreme, ever so witty when he chooses to b
...more
Chris
“Who does a bullshitter bullshit when he is alone?” Had the Sphinx asked this of Oedipus it wouldn’t probably wouldn’t have ended up eating itself. Now, millennia later, Martin Amis provides an answer for this ages-old quandary: a bullshitter alone will bullshit the reader, at least when he’s narrating a story. While there have been many exercises in showcasing the importance of reliability in point of view and narration, Amis pulls out all the stops and adds a twist to this tale by having not j ...more
Alexander
Delicious. Vivifyingly vile. High-powered cozening narcissism delivered in gulps of lurid, exuberant prose. Amis is at his most decadent and tender in Success, an examination of diametrically stationed yet equally depraved voices; of vanity, misogyny, squalid impotence, all the male vices; at once cheerfully sordid and painfully funny. You get the feel, reading this novel, that Amis took two ordinary creatures (in their respective 'yob' and 'posh' stratospheres), bequeathed them with the ferocio ...more
Tony
SUCCESS. (1975). Martin Amis. ****.
When I began this novel, I forecast that it would get a five-star rating. Turned out that I was wrong. Why? Towards the end of this novel, the characters began to get boring. It’s the story of two foster brothers: Terry and Greg. Terry was brought into Greg’s family from an orphanage, and joined Greg and his sister, Ursula. Greg and Terry are about the same age – late teenagers, but they are as different as night and day. Terry is short and dumpy and bereft of
...more
Pierce
Oct 08, 2007 Pierce rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like black, black humour.
I bought this secondhand about 6 months ago; there seems to be a pretty much unending library of Martin Amis books to read, every time I think I've got the measure of them I find another one I haven't heard of.

Then I lost it in the house and just found it again before reading it. I think it's my favourite Martin Amis book. (!). The point-of-view story of two foster brothers, polar opposites and each one equally unpleasant. They start to go through a series of experiences that begin to tip their
...more
Paul Wilner
Why do people like this guy? His characters are almost uniformly unsympathetic, particularly the boorish "Gregory"" who seems most identified with the author's persona. Poorly written, cheap shots, misogynistic - apart from that, it's great. For some reason people seem to identify sheer nastiness - particularly true of British authors (and sometimes filmmakers, rockers) with literary quality, a symptom of deep cultural insecurity. I actually far prefer his father's work, particularly "Lucky Jim, ...more
Ensiform
Two foster brothers --- Terry, a neurotic, balding foundling taken in by a rich family, grown bitter and desperate for sex; and Gregory, the lithe, graceful, snobby, louche aristocratic natural son --- live together in a small flat. Alternating the narration between the two, Amis paints a picture of conflict and depression, which only increases after Terry’s would-be girlfriend is lost, apparently, to Gregory. Midway through the book, Amis begins to twist the reader’s sympathies, so that Gregory ...more
Marco Kaye
Success is tonto! Amis uses this word as a refrain, practically a mantra. It means loony, crazy, and cracked. It means this book is funny as all get out.

Structurally it’s not tonto at all. Rather, it’s a tightly wound double helix. Over the course of one year, each chapter representing a month, we follow two brothers, Terry Service and Gregory Riding. At an early age and after extreme familial circumstances, Terry was adopted into Gregory’s lavish household. Now the brothers live uncomfortably t
...more
christa
In one corner, we have Terry, a tragic character who is convinced that the universe has conspired to make sure no woman will ever sleep with him. His teeth are bad, he's shedding hair, and he is in constant fear of losing his job in sales. In the other corner is his foster brother Gregory, beautiful and bisexual, a gallery worker who flounces around London living the high life and wearing a cape.

"Success," Martin Amis' third novel, follows a year of their lives as roommates in a flat better sui
...more
Simon Hollway
Dozens of laugh out loud moments - not so much incidents per se; more the beguiling virtuosity of Amis' metaphors. Includes one of the greatest sentences ever published: 'He said "hello" like a resolute halitotic sounding out a new friendship.' Certain passages in the novel, particularly Geoffrey at his most arch, stand shoulder to shoulder with Nabokov.
Will Lock
I read Martin Amis's Success immediately after Edward St. Aubyn's Patrick Melrose Novels. None of St. Aubyn’s fireworks here (maybe an IED or two), but overall a richer, balanced blend of character, plot and the creative use of point-of-view that is one of Amis’s trademarks. What was interesting about reading the two books in parallel is the contrast between Patrick Melrose and Gregory. Patrick is a pure product of the upper class, albeit a very damaged one. St. Aubyn draws him out in page after ...more
Isaac Cooper
I hate this daily ten-minute walk, along the outlines of cold squares, past dark shopfronts where cats claw at the window panes, then into the tingling strip of Queensway, through shuddering traffic and the sweet smell of yesterday’s trash. I look at girls, of course, watch aeroplanes (take me to America), buy a paper and lots more cigarettes on the way, but I don’t think I’m convincing anyone by all this.

Success! I found a good book! What a rare occurrence that seems to be nowadays. Success is
...more
Alex
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Magid
Jul 12, 2007 Magid rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Ha Ha Ha! This book is great. It makes me wish I had been born twenty years earlier, so that I could enjoy the kind of London it describes.
Leora Bersohn
Amazing how annoying and unpleasant this was when London Fields and Money were so funny.
Erica
Whenever I'm reading a book, I like to have a stock rehearsed answer for when someone asks, "What's it about?" (generally the question that follows, "whatcha reading?"). I didn't really have a good explanation for "Success", but according to the Goodreads summary it is "a modern-day Jacobean revenge comedy". OK, that's a start. So I IM'ed my husband to ask him what this means:

Me:
what is a "jacobean revenge" plot?

Husband:
Haha

Me:
?

Husband:
Funny question

You remember the movie titus?

It's Elizabethan,
...more
Steve
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jean-marcel
Amis's novels are often a bit like swimming around in a cesspool and finding yourself stuck with a problem....turns out you have a bit of an affinity for cesspools; maybe they're your natural habitat after all? I wouldn't call this book a masterwork along the lines of Money: A Suicide Note, but on the other hand its focus exclusively on the two brothers allows for stark contrast and an interesting examination of the same pictures and events viewed through sharply differing lenses. The story's ri ...more
Mike Hart
I was afraid to continue reading Success after I finished the first two chapters. I was afraid of when I would eventually see myself in Gregory, and much, much more frightened of when I would see a piece of Mike Hart stretching out in Terry’s pasty monochromatic skin. Not only were my fears realized, they came out at the most inopportune time. I found myself in Greg as his slide hit the slipperiest slope and began its downhill tumble at an alarming pace: “I used to love the man I would become. I ...more
Jane Griffiths
Hilarious. ONe of the funniest books I've ever read. And manages not to be misanthropic or misogynist. Horrible characters, but you don't hate them. Published in 1978, but not really dated. People keep failing to contact each other because they are not there when the phone call comes, but hey, we don't worry that no one emails in Jane Austen, do we? I loved this.
Maria
Both sinister and witty, Martin Amis delivers characters provocative and repulsive, foster brothers in this novel. It is the emphasis on realizing a few characters which allows him to reach great heights and explore depths of human experience, putting Amis in a select group of novelists.

Terry, born a pauper, is slovenly, drunk and undersexed, perpetually suffering his early childhood and the ongoing adult rivalry with his aristocratic, self-serving and shallow brother Gregory. Their lives run d
...more
Amy
This is the story of two foster brothers; both pretty unlikeable. Gregory is the arrogant, self-involved, sorta queer playboy who uses everyone around him. Terry is the adopted brother, desperate to get laid, and totally pathetic. The book's chapters are labelled by month, all totalling one year. For the first half, Gregory seems to be the one enjoying the more storied life, but halfway through, success seems to belong to Terry. The characters are completely misanthropic and despicable, but I fo ...more
Catherine Siemann
I'm not saying this isn't a good book -- it's funny and satirical, especially on issues of class in the UK. I am saying that I didn't particularly enjoy it. It's the story of two foster brothers, one a posh golden boy and the other a workaday drudge; the problem is that while part of me was rooting for ginger Terry to surge ahead and posh Gregory to get his comeuppance, it was difficult to bother much about what happened to either of them. Also, perhaps when this was written in the 70s, characte ...more
NK
Sep 29, 2012 NK is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Martin Amis. The author is a good author, but this particular book is kind of disturbing. I've gotten about three quarters finished with the book, and it's kind of too late to stop. It's already talking very, very in detail about incest and drug use and these two losers. It's like watching a car wreck, a really, really fireballing car wreck with lots of injuries, in slow motion. It's like too late. It's beyond the threshold past which I can't stop reading. It's really disturbing because I'm neve ...more
Liam89
Lurid, nasty, disgusting, and utterly hilarious. Using lyrical prose Amis delivers a modern-day Jacobean revenge comedy where two foster brothers (the self-deluded, serial-shagging Gregory Riding, and the tragic, paranoid Terry Service) have their comfortable living arrangement torn apart by the emergence of Gregory's beloved sister Ursula. This was Martin Amis's third novel, and it cemented his position as the leading exponent of what the New York Times called "the new unpleasantness". The late ...more
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Martin Amis is an English novelist, essayist and short story writer. His works include the novels Money, London Fields and The Information.

The Guardian writes that "all his critics have noted what Kingsley Amis [his father] complained of as a 'terrible compulsive vividness in his style... that constant demonstrating of his command of English'; and it's true that the Amis-ness of Amis will be recog
...more
More about Martin Amis...
Money Time's Arrow London Fields The Rachel Papers The Information

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“I think I'm losing my bottle. I think I'm going tonto.” 1 likes
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