Heavy Water and Other Stories
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Heavy Water and Other Stories

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  859 ratings  ·  45 reviews
This collection of Martin Amis's short stories is frankly entertaining in its satirical take on the human condition in modern times. Whole worlds are created--or inverted. In "Straight Fiction" everyone is gay (apart from the beleaguered "straight" community); in "Career Moves" screenwriters submit their works to little magazines and poets are flown first-class to Los Ange...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published March 28th 2000 by Vintage Canada (first published 1998)
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Tfitoby
It would appear that short stories are not the forte of Martin Amis if this collection is anything to go by.

This collection isn't even wildly uneven in its quality and instead varies from the awful to the OK to the unreadable. Throughout my reading experience I struggled desperately to find something to cling to, some form of entertainment or enjoyment or depth to the prose but I just couldn't locate any of that or any of what I usually take from a Martin Amis work.

It has allowed me, however,...more
Caty
Nov 28, 2008 Caty rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: "The Janitor On Mars" to anyone
I usually find Martin Amis to be a pale imitation of his acclaimed father and Will Self, but this collection includes one of my favorite short stories EVER: "The Janitor on Mars". Fucking amazing and I'll say no more.
Maria Amuchastegui
Martin Amis is a talented prose stylist with a nasty world view. The stories in this collection range from awful to meh, with occasional flashes of brilliance. They're not nearly as good as his novels, with many reading like an abandoned attempt at a longer piece. The best of the lot:
- "Career Move" describes about a world in which poets are jet-setting Hollywood bigwigs while screenwriters are starving artists.
- "Let Me Count the Ways" describes a man who has an affair with himself.
- "Denton's...more
Ron
Amis is no master of the short form, as illustrated by the wildly uneven collection that is Einstein's Monsters or the novella Dead Babies, and Heavy Water proves just as uneven as the former while often sinking to the depths of the abysmal latter. Amis twists notions of reality in both Career Move (poets are millionaires and film makers starving artists) and Straight Fiction (gay and straight populations are reversed), and both come across as trite and deadly dull. Denton's Death and Heavy Wate...more
Kyle
After putting down both 'Money' and 'The Rachel Papers' without finishing them, I was skeptical about even buying this book which I did only because I found a pocket paperback copy of it and 'Dead Babies' at the used bookstore around the corner for only $2 each. Except for "Straight Fiction" (which is obvious and hardly clever even) and "What Happened to Me on My Holiday" (which, while fun to read, may be a bit too sentimental), every single one of these stories is phenomenal.

Martin Amis is endl...more
Mike Jensen
I finally get why so many people like Martin Amis and so many dislike Martin Amis. He is such a skillful prose stylist that his stories can be as hard to put down as they are to finish because of his nasty characters and view of the world.

No, I do not like these stories very much but I admire the skill that went into writing them. Different people will prefer different stories, of course, but I favor the first and third where the author tries to get us to see the world differently by simple swit...more
Esther
Picked up a lovely 1st edition hardcover in perfect condition for next to nothing in a lovely second hand bookstore in South Haven, MI when we were on holiday a few months ago. So its a collection of short stories mostly written in the 90s and with a couple of real gems. When Amis is biting and funny he is head and shoulders above everyone else. The satire about the movie business, applied to a poetry - 'his f-cking sonnet did forty million opening weekend' is wicked. And the story about the 'St...more
Cheri
Amis is such an amazing writer, but several of these stories don't age well. Also, he's both a man of his times and his upbringing, and so resorts to some pretty awful stereotypes in stories like "Straight Fiction" and "The Coincidence of The Arts".
On craft, he's unimpeachable, but for content I find him mostly lacking.
Aaron France
May 28, 2007 Aaron France rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: short fiction addicts
Great stories, most are strong. Standing out above all others is "The Janitor from Mars".
Mark Desrosiers
... but the title story gets five stars ...
Shob
I read a lot of short story compilations and anthologies. It gives me a taste of different authors and wider range of genres to chew on.

I read two anthologies concurrently these past weeks. One was better than the other. This collection by Martin Amis, a British writer, was not the better one.

There was not a single common narrative or theme throughout this assorted collection, other than the fact that the stories were based in England. It touched on topics such as relationship, marriage, femini...more
M.C.
Heavy Water And Other Stories is an intriguing collection of short stories written by British writer Martin Amis. The basic theme that links these stories to one another is a focus on British culture either through character or through the setting.

Of the nine short stories in Heavy Water And Other Stories, "Denton's Death" is the most mysterious. A synopsis of the story would suffice to tell one of the tale of a man who claims that a figure named "the leader" and his accomplices will come to co...more
Kirstie
This barely gets the 3/5 stars I am giving it and I am really starting to think Martin Amis is a little over-rated. One thing I can definitely say is that I have enjoyed his novels more. There are only two stories I found to be 4/5 star quality and the rest were more like 2/5. Those two stories were the title story and "The Coincidence of the Arts." At times ,one senses that Martin Amis is trying to be creative and a little twisted but ends up missing the mark and creating stories that detach th...more
Andy
This was my first experience reading Martin Amis and like many short story collections, this one I considered uneven. Martin Amis can write, no doubt about it, but too many of the stories were gimmicky - as if he's trying to show off his chops. Sometimes I don't mind working hard to "get" a book; this wasn't one of those times.
Deborah Schuff
Eh. I read only two or three and skimmed the rest. A couple were rather clever, but on the whole not really my taste in fiction.
Rachelheavers
Oh Martin. You are so mean! Satirical insights, barbed criticism! At least the stories are short, so we have less time to hate the people to whom you introduce us! That said, he is a beautiful writer, creative, sharp-eyed and insightful. Some oversimplification of sexual politics, of sex in general, but I expected this from the author. What I didn't expect was the beautiful emotional fabric he reveals in some of his most heinous characters - big Mal is my favorite.
Carlos
Una colección de cuentos de Amis que destaca por su habilidad para escribir sobre asuntos sórdidos con un estilo innegable y un humor nada complaciente. Yo destacaría por su humor descarnado Straight Fiction (una distopía sobre un mundo dominado por los gays, con la que difícilmente pude parar de reír) y The Janitor (un relato CF sobre el primer contacto con los marcianos, bueno, con un marciano).

En todo caso, todas recomendables de un autor que es un favorito personal.
Paul Simon Grimsley
i am sure that i have heard or rather read in certain reviews that amis is considered too smart for his own good. that frankly is just so much bull dung -- this is a master class in the short story and if you don't read it because of some bias against martin amis then you are shooting yourself in the foot.
he flips the world around in ways that are interesting and entirely convincing. i loved this book.
Richard
I don't so much dislike this book as just really hate one particular story, Straight Fiction, that is in it. It posits a world where everyone is gay, but uses typical gay stereotypes; if everyone were gay, gays would be totally different, because a lot of gay behaviour comes from being a minority. It just seemed like a poorly planned aspect of an admirable thought experiment.
Sarah Pascarella
Amis shows the versatility and experimental nature of the short story form with this collection. He also serves as a modern-day Ionesco, shining light on the absurdities of the modern age. He never goes for the expected, whether he's skewering sexual mores or dissecting a troubled parent-child relationship. All the while, the details, tone, and plot are air-tight.
Kent Winward
I enjoy Amis' novels more. These were like his novels lite. Two of the stories simply hinged on swapping "poet" with "screenwriter" and "straight" with "gay" and creating alternate universes based on the switch.

Class warfare also shows up.

"Let Me Count The Times" was the funniest for me -- but then obsessive sexual hi-jinks are always funny to me.

Christopher Roberts
I hated the title story in this collection, just to get that out of the way. Career Move and Straight Fiction were both clever but gimmicky. The Coincidence of the Arts is some kind of brilliant short masterpiece. The other stories are forgettable. So much so that I can't say much about them.
Sam
This collection of short stories is mixed. Some were great, but some were limited to Amis's standard fascination for jerks and miscreants. As usual, Amis knows how to craft language, and there are plenty of bawdy jokes thrown in. I loved the one sci-fi story in the mix about the Janitor on Mars.
Rustam
His humor is like...I dunno. There's one story about this guy whose wife lets him sodomize her exactly once a year on his birthday. Amis then spends the rest of the story generating hundreds of statistics in regards to various aspects of their sex life. And I dunno. It's just funny.
Max
One of the best collection of short stories I've ever read. Each is rich and funny in its own way. Some are better than others (The State of England is a standout) but the variety is part of the appeal. A lot of brilliant, page-turning satire. Plenty of emotional kick too.
Kendall
Some good stories- some weird stuff. Liked (sort of): The Coincidence of the Arts- Heavy Water- Straight Fiction. Let Me Count the Times was a strange erotic story. What Happened to Me on My Holiday was witty- but consciously so and annoying as hell to plod through.
R.
Features The Janitor From Mars wherein an abusive Martian robot communicates to a representative gathering of Earthlings precisely how little they matter in the grand scheme of things.
Amanda
Such a weird and wonderful collection of short stories. Except I didnt finish "What Happened To Me On My Holiday" because what the hell was that? Made my head hurt.
Sazuru
One of those few brilliant macho authors who turns the whole thing in on itself, and with such an agile imagination that you have to read...and keep on reading.
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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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