The War Against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000
Like John Updike, Martin Amis is the pre-eminent novelist-critic of his generation. The War Against Cliché is a selection of his reviews and essays over the past quarter-century. It contains pieces on Cervantes, Milton, Donne, Coleridge, Jane Austen, Dickens, Kafka, Philip Larkin, Joyce, Waugh, Lowry, Nabokov, F. R. Leavis, V. S. Pritchett, William Burroughs, Anthony Burge...more
Those of my Booksters who have known me too long now are aware that I have a very serious and embarrassing Martin Amis Problem. It reminds one of youthful compulsions towards hedonism, vice, wildly inappropriate men, and all those th ...more
These essays and reviews cover a large span of years but retain the same silky-sounding tone throughout.
Who are Amis' personal gods: Nabokov and Bellow (and possibly Joyce). It's a good list, and these authors continually crop up, and their influence is palpable in his own style, particularly in the case of Nabokov. The shining, serene sentence is what seem ...more
I think Amis is the most incisive critic I know. And a master of verbal logistics. And someone with sentiment, and unabashed sensitivity. How can you skewer your subject (target) so deftly and yet be so soft?
Oh. And anyone that likes to think, to juxtapose, to discover, to parry... you'll be laughing out loud at least once per page.
Maybe I'm a sucker for the Brits but Amis has this stern yet satiric and subtly poetic take on contemporary literature which is second to none. There is a sense of finality to the things he says, in the sense of tough authority and savagely on-point wit.
Just look at his face on the cover: there's this "you didn't REALLY think you could pull one over on me, did you?" quality which would either be an immediate turn-off to a prospective reader or a confirmation of his taste, wit, and learning.
I le ...more
This book is a work of genius!
Shaped a lot of my current feelings about the relationship between reader and writer, and the manner in which a reader can claim his or her own portion of the literary conversation.
Quote to live by: "All writing is a campaign against cliche."
"What, nowadays, is the constituency of Ulysses? Who reads it? Who curls up with Ulysses? It is thoroughly studied, it is exhaustively unzipped and unseamed, it is much deconstructed. But who reads Ulysses for the hell of it? I know a poet who carries Ulysses around ...more
Since we're going to war and all's fair in love and war, we need to get some things straight. First, let's remember what we've learned from the movies.
1) You're very likely to survive any battle in any war, unless you show someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.
2) All G.I.s know how to make a sti ...more
In describing why Philip Larkin is a better poet than novelist, Amis reviews two of Larkin’s early novels and in particular looks at A Girl in Winter ...more
His review of 'Hannibal' is great. Right on the money.
He has such a skill with the written word, and this book shows that even the reviewing format can be a dazzling platform in the right hands.
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