Success
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Success

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  1,402 ratings  ·  70 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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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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Lennylehnertz
Great book. Amazing characters and to be able to see the same story through both of their perspectives made it even better.
Brent Legault
Success's structure, its wit and, dare I say, its glamour are so concise, so outlandish, so accurate and otherworldly that I believe it must have been fashioned by an alien species; the same spacefolk responsible for the pyramids of Egypt, the monkey face on Mars and the inexplicable popularity of Glenn Beck*.


*And like Glenn Beck, Success is populated with, and driven by, a cast of unlikeable characters. Do not look to Success for your own sympathetic alter ego or someone to "get behind." Succes...more
Kranthi Askani
wow...yesterday around this time, i was feeling so wretched and useless i could have gone ahead and stubbed my toe on purpose just for the sake of it....today, i feel like i am all sloshed up with the finest literary-scotch on the planet...

Give me amis, every weekend, for the rest of my life and i won't complain, ever: i won't complain about the dithering life and its unnecessary oddites, its cruel rotines and its half-baked philosophies....i wont complain...LONDON, just give me amis
Dyan
I wish I had the eloquence of Martin Amis. He strings his words together wonderfully. What I liked best about this novel was the structure of the story: the two different views of Terry and Greg, from one slightly unreliable narrator to another that is much worse. Lol. It's kinda heartbreaking, too, the way the last few chapters slowly revealed what one feared was going to happen, when Success had turned her gaze to one and all others became tonto.
Jane
Quite possibly the funniest book I have ever read. This is his third, and I didn't like his first two, I thought they were misogynist. But this is not, nor is it misanthropic, despite the fact that the two main characters (mismatched foster brothers) are desperately unpleasant people. Almost perfectly structured. And not really dated at all, although it was published in 1978. Don't miss it.
Jonathan
I'm sick of handing out stars like they're Sprint cell-phones and the books are insured customers who've nonetheless paid a mysterious $50 fee only to receive the "complimentary" replacement phone that it turns out doesn't even fucking work; otherwise Success would get five stars, for sure.
(Amis, if it weren't for Dave F W, you'd be a god to me. As things stand, you're a solid demi-.)
Ron
This may be the most compellingly readable book by Amis. It is a harrowing tale about class, the perception of reality and the madness of the modern age. Amis pulls no punches with this one, relentlessly piling on one gruesome scene after another as the book progresses, and he has turned in another masterpiece to stand along with Money, the Information and London Fields.
Sara
Ingeniously structured, diabolically narrated, crass, misogynistic, putrid, sinful, and loads of squirm-inducing fun. At times I hated Terry and Greg, at others I liked them against my better judgment. Do not read this if you need your characters to be recognizable, relatable human beings. Amis doesn't give a toss what you think anyway.
Nacho
Un Amis menor. Se centra en la relación entre dos hermanos, uno excéntrico, con querencia por la extravagancia e ínfulas de aristócrata; el otro, con conciencia de clase obrera y escaso éxito social. Cuenta la historia desde ambos puntos de vista y hay que desentrañar las mentiras de ambos para quedarse con la miga del libro.
Jeff
This is the first Martin Amis book I ever read so it's kind of my favorite one, though not his best. I will never forget the experience of reading this book and knowing I would have to get my hands on everything this guy had written.
MM
Delightfully bawdy, funny, frightening, sometimes disturbing. In his coruscating prose, what exactly is Amis saying about class struggles, masculinity, sex and madness in late-70s England? Well, lots, in this story of two brothers.
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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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