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Experiencia

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  1,631 ratings  ·  97 reviews
"We live in the age of mass loquacity," Martin Amis writes by way of introduction to Experience, thereby placing the reader in a curious bind. How to feel about a memoir by a writer who deplores our current enthusiasm for memoirs? Can such a public appeal for private life be convincing? The son of misanthropic comic novelist Kingsley Amis, Amis the Younger's life story is ...more
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Published October 28th 2001 by Anagrama (first published 2000)
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MJ Nicholls
Martin Amis, you will discover, is a human punching bag for critics. Google his name or one of his books, and you will find an endless resource of Amis-bashing from broadsheets to boobrags.

The reason? Pretension. People perceive Amis as a conceited windbag who ranks himself amongst Nabokov, Saul Bellow and his father Kingsley in the pantheon of literary greats. The voice doesn’t help – that interminable transatlantic drawl with its considered hesitations and self-important emphases.

The fact of t
...more
Lobstergirl
Jan 13, 2010 Lobstergirl rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lamar Odom
Shelves: own, memoir
It's probably appropriate that Experience and Speak, Memory are often compared, because Amis worships Nabokov, and you have to read them both with a pencil handy so you can underline and marvel over their brilliant sentences. But what I've read of both their fiction, while it provides the occasional chuckle, and in the case of Nabokov admiration, has left me cold, even queasy (yes, I have suspicions it's me, not Nabokov, though I feel fortified in learning on p. 119 that there's "something in Na ...more
Jonfaith
The memoir is a guided tour, no free ranging research with the price of admission. It is likely closer to a slide show. One mustn't shuffle the sequence. It alleges itself as a report, an account. It isn't submission. That is unseemly. I often felt ill at ease when reading Experience. My friends and I read Zachary Leader's biography of Kingsley Amis a few years back. The sordid details of the home life and its philandering projections really bothered me. It also gave a context to Marty's less th ...more
Manny

I think this is my all-time favourite autobiography. Beautifully written, packed with wonderful anecdotes, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and sometimes deeply moving. What more can you ask for?
matt

Whether you love or hate Amis, the sentences he crafts are as sparkling and witty and imaginitive as anything, and his pronouncements are somehow uttered with this devastatingly quiet authority of hipness that you sort of can't help but take him seriously. He's the guy at the party you want to like you...

I initially found out about him through my years-long obsession with all things Hitch, so learning about Amis' life and work has been an unexpected bonus.

Check it:

"I said in the car, the hired
...more
Jessica
Jan 28, 2013 Jessica marked it as aborted-efforts  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dicklits, leetle-boys
Made it to page 236. Thought I was a huge enough Amis fangirl to be crazy about this, but after a promising beginning it wound up making me adore him less. At the end of the day, I just don't find Martin Amis's life as fascinating as Martin Amis does, and I definitely am not as interested in his relationship with his father. Don't get me wrong, there's some amazing stuff in here, but the book as a whole reminded me of personal essays I see students write for grad school admission: most people ha ...more
Andrea Carolina
La otra noche terminé de leer la autobiografía de Martin Amis aunque Martin Amis haya escrito su autobiografía como a los 45 años y aun este vivo. Al final el libro resultó bastante largo y un poco repetitivo a ratos, pero nunca decepcionante. Me quedan muchas cosas de ese libro, muchas cosas y profundas, vuelvo y digo que me siento realmente comprendida con las palabras, con las ideas con la historia y los sentimientos de este señor, comprendida en este punto de mi vida, vuelvo y digo que los l ...more
Sarah
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Yes, Amis is self-satisfied. And yes, he writes more -- much more -- about his teeth than about his wives. But he's just so CLEVER, it's hard not to enjoy it. And he turns out to be unexpectedly sensitive when writing about sad or tender moments. Demerits: the book lacks structure, and runs on a bit. A third of the way through, I thought it would be one of my favourite recent reads; two-thirds of the way through, I'd run out of steam and had to take a ...more
Ethan
The title, it turns out, is a caveat emptor.

I went in expecting a look at MA's life as a writer in his twenties, thirties, and forties--the Granta/Booker heydays, nights out, friends, foes and lovers. You know, summer reading fun.

I got perhaps fifty pages on tooth pain, tooth anxieties, trips to dentists, and ruminations on the dental problems of famous novelists.

And discussions about a murdered cousin (and with it, the obvious hope that the weight of that terrible event would counterbalance the
...more
Jenny
I've read a couple of Martin Amis' books and several of his dad's. Somehow, after London Fields, I decided there was something about him I didn't quite care for. But then a review of another biography compared it to this one and said how good Amis's was and so I put it on my Kindle and read it at the writers' retreat. I found myself laughing out loud quite often (always a good thing)and I enjoyed his thoughts about writing and literature especially in the first part. The second part is mainly ab ...more
F.R.
To be honest I’ve always preferred the novels of Amis Sr to Amis Jr. Although I haven’t dipped as extensively into Martin’s work as some of my contemporaries, nothing I’ve read so far has matched – say – ‘Lucky Jim’. Indeed I think the younger Amis’s books would benefit from him taking a page at the beginning to write: “My name is Martin Amis and I am very clever.” Once those two facts have been clearly established he wouldn’t need to bang on about them in the prose and we’d no doubt have much m ...more
Lee
I love the themes from minutiae to magnificent, as coexisting subjects of experience - writing, adolescence, children (being a child and having them) and guilt, sex, problematic teeth, travel, marriage, troubles with friendships, pleasure in friendships, struggles with close family members. He writes at one point that his dentist 'after a particularly gruelling session, wrung his hands and told his mother "it's a mess in there"'. He also writes of the coincidence of things that happen to familie ...more
Casey
I have always felt that Martin Amis is probably a giant ass. This opinion is only confirmed by my feeling of an increasing crankiness in each new book. I'm glad I read Experience. It's very easy to judge a total stranger based on interviews, but this memoir is an honest account of his untidy life, and it's told with genuine feeling. There's his huge jerk of a famous father, there's a missing cousin, there's a child he knew nothing of. With Experience, readers gain some sympathy for Amis, who tur ...more
Sean
This book has a certain brilliance to it unrivalled by its fellow memoirs or autobiographies. Amis ignores the fact that a memoir is a recollection of his life and instead decides to throw in essential fragments from his life at you randomly throughout the novel, whilst working in a linear narrative by contrasting them with another moment. Amis manages to construct his yarn through constant use of letters sent to his father, Kingsley, and stepmother Jane during the late teen and young adult era ...more
Katie
There are a lot of footnotes in this book. And that equates to a chronic self-consciousness. What you might expect from an auto-biography after all. But then many autobiographies are written by ghost writers nowadays.

I loved and recoiled at times from his triumphant use of English, his unashamed pride in his vocabulary and the perfection with which the specific word is used for the specific context. There is no fudging.

It's dense but it's also witty and by the end of the first 2/3 of the book (
...more
Gina
I'm a big fan of Martin Amis so perhaps this memoir isn't for everyone, but his insights and shared experiences of love and loss helped me cope with my own grief experiences.
Nicole
The footnotes drove me absolutely nuts! I had to stop reading it.
Cailin Deery
Sep 03, 2014 Cailin Deery rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cailin by: Tom Parnell
Amis starts and ends by criticising life as an inherently poor story. “The trouble with life is its amorphousness… thinly plotted, largely theme-less, 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; the same ending…”

He believed writers write far more penetratingly than they live. He also repeatedly recalls a phrase Kingsley once said to him (whether or not he also subsc
...more
Robert
'Experience' was surely one of the best books I read this year. I came into this book having read nothing at all by Kingsley Amis and almost nothing by Martin Amis, but I was completely fascinated by this sort of autobiography told in a series of vignettes. Amis jumps around his entire life, bringing the reader in medias res to a situation here and a conversation there.

It documents the slightly crazy upbringing and adulthood of Martin Amis, a child of Britain's literati class. 'Experience' is al
...more
Diann Blakely
EXPERIENCE begins with Martin Amis’s cranky resignation to the limits of the genre he has chosen: memoir. He knows, of course, that fiction presents its own incorrigible limits, ditto life itself—or at least life when viewed as a structural principle. For novels, Amis points out, warp “reality experiences”—a term with particular resonance after a season of "Survivor II" and "Temptation Island"—because novelists inevitably fall prey to the “addiction to seeing parallels and making connections.” O ...more
Kristin
The writing in this book is so spectacular that it completely makes up for the fact that I wasn’t really interested in much of the content and, in fact, I suspect I wouldn’t like him very much if I met him in person. But he’s so smart, and his writing is so elegant that I don’t really care where the journey leads, I just love going along for the ride. Not a traditional memoir: non-chronological, lots and lots of footnotes, but I think it made for a better read - I really feel like I was in his h ...more
Brittany Kubes
I was advised to read The Information, and then to read Experience in order to give context to Amis because he gets a lot of flak for his personal life & writings. After loving The Information, I don’t think I needed to delve into this memoir….while Amis has certainly led an interesting life, this book made me come back down to earth after The Information and like him a little less.

Without any sense of chronology, the memoir touches gently on the major events that formed Amis’ life: the mur
...more
Richard Bardon
Wow.

Along with Hitch-22, the best memoir I've ever read.

Hitch-22's greatest strength was its insistence of maintaining the form of a memoir (biography, even) from the subject, but at the same time infusing the wit of an incredible writer.

Experience's strength is that it in no way resembles a memoir.

Although in first-person, this is--in every sense-- a novel.

And a great one at that.

Amis jumps between angst over his writing, trouble with the state of his mouth and lower jaw(and the odd media c
...more
Eric Cartier
Perhaps I didn't read this at the right time: it didn't completely click with me, although it was never unenjoyable. I'll read his first four novels next, which I've left for last.

Experience is a space in which Amis flaunts his consistently dazzling stylistic gifts while he assembles (in a complex structure) the narrative of his family, friendships and life as a writer. There is also the dark story that winds itself throughout and around the book: Amis's 21-year old cousin Lucy Partington was ab
...more
Callie
Why did it take me so long to read this?! He's got a lot in here about his father, and a lot about his own teeth (I thought I hated the dentist, but this man has REAL problems) The teeth point toward his aging and thoughts about his own mortality which is what the book is mainly grappling with. It's not very comprehensive or even very revealing as memoirs go. You'll learn more about Kingsley and his divorce, his death, his regrets, etc. than you ever learn about Martin. But of course he's a geni ...more
Jocelyn
The memoir is arranged thematically, which can is sometimes confusing, sometimes repetitive. Also very confusing is a section where Amis starts writing about 'you', who is clearly not 'me', Jocelyn, or 'dear reader', but his wife - I got quite lost. (Quite likely my fault and should re-read section before criticising - I think I missed the Fonseca family being introduced)
A lot of it is about the author's father Kingsley Amis. K. A. is not a very nice or good person in this book, but the author'
...more
Fatleg
This point is not specific to Martin Amis but appears to be amplified by this book. Is it possible to produce a work of thorough insight through an autobiography?
The pitfalls are obvious; the author is going to be prone to highlighting aspects of his life which HE thinks is significant or important. Is anybody best placed to review their own personality. M.Amis has very unique style which in fiction I adore but in this he felt like he was a character in his own novel (which he has already done i
...more
Annie Holmes
Well, Simmi Isaac seems to have covered this memoir quite thoroughly in the review box below! I haven't read Amis Jr for years - his prose is like some people: big forcefield even when you don't like them very much. A part of me is still, a week or two later, living in his world and concerns. Even though his control feels so intense in the structure, the M. Amis character seems vulnerable. On one hand, he's so nakedly vehement in his defensiveness - the teeth, the biographer, the 4th Estate - an ...more
Steffi
Diese Autobiografie ist schon ein wenig selbstverliebt. Jede Menge Namedropping (nicht nur Schriftstellerkollegen wie Bellow, Larkin und McEwan, sondern auch Teddy Kollek und John Travolta), Frauengeschichten, Nabelschau. Interessant sind zwei Themen, auf die Amis immer wieder zurück kommt: Zum einen seine Cousine Lucy, die dem berühmten Frauenmörder Frederick West zum Opfer fiel, und zum anderen seine ständigen Zahnschmerzen. Auch das Verhältnis zu seinem ebenfalls berühmten Vater Kingsley nimm ...more
Maria
Finally, a Martin Amis book I can wholeheartly recommend! What an extraordinary life he has led so far! Erudite, poingnant, funny, warm and questioning - these are all words I can use to describe the book. As someone just a litle younger than the author, and who has also lost parents, I found the musings on death and illness to be close to what I, too, feel. I sensed the personalities of his parents, friends, and family through his words...and the complicated relatinships one has with significan ...more
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Imprinted Lives: ...: Amis Part 1 Unawakened 2 3 Dec 07, 2012 08:25PM  
Imprinted Lives: ...: Amis Part 2 The Main Events 1 1 Dec 06, 2012 10:56PM  
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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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“What did Nabokov and Joyce have in common, apart from the poor teeth and the great prose? Exile, and decades of near pauperism. A compulsive tendency to overtip. An uxoriousness that their wives deservedly inspired. More than that, they both lived their lives 'beautifully'--not in any Jamesian sense (where, besides, ferocious solvency would have been a prerequisite), but in the droll fortitude of their perseverance. They got the work done, with style.” 43 likes
“My life looked good on paper - where, in fact, almost all of it was being lived.” 28 likes
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