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Visiting Mrs Nabokov and Other Excursions

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  551 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Fuelled by innumerable cigarettes, Martin Amis provides dazzling portraits of contemporaries and mentors alike: Larkin and Rushdie; Greene and Pritchett; Ballard and Burgess and Nicholson Baker; John Updike - warts and all. Vigorously zipping across to Washington, he exposes the double-think of nuke-speak; in New Orleans the Republican Convention gets a going over. And the ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 7th 2005 by Vintage (first published 1993)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,040)
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Anthony Vacca
Oct 02, 2014 Anthony Vacca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Martin Amis writing jazzy, restrained, well-informed, and right-minded journalism about the titular Mrs. V.N., nuclear lunacy, the making of Robocop II, nude sunbathing at Cannes, darts, snooker, poker, getting expelled, John Updike, John Lennon, Elton John's soccer team's trip to China, in-flight turbulence, Nicholson Baker, Phillip Larkin, underhanded bouts of chess between Kasparov and Kaparov, Salman Rushdie, Saul Bellow, and the weird world of Republican primary buffoonery: what's not to lo ...more
G.R. Reader
Jul 14, 2014 G.R. Reader rated it liked it
My favorite passage:
Just before the 1978 Championship I interviewed Korchnoi in London, at the Savoy. At one point, twisting powerfully in his chair, he became silent, and then grew dreamy. With some wistfulness he confessed that he despaired of ever bringing home, to people in the West, the crawling sliminess, the full squidgy horror, of Anatoly Karpov. 'You know, in Russia we have a fish,' he said, 'called a karp. A disgusting, slimy fish. You wouldn't eat it. That's what Karpov is.' I said, '
...more
Stela
What a brilliant title, so inspired and inciting, this book has got! The contents, however, were a little bit disappointing, a hurry-scurry of places, games, people whose only connection was, as the author himself says in the Introduction, “getting out of the house.”

And these “excursions” outdoors imply not only visits to some famous widows, but also going to concerts, flying dangerously, accompanying sport teams, watching games and politics and of course, interviewing authors in order to write
...more
Lukasz Pruski
Apr 20, 2016 Lukasz Pruski rated it it was ok
"Visually, though, one got some point of [...] Mick. This well-put-together, vitamin-packed unit of a human being does not really dance any more: it's simply that his head, his shoulders, his pelvis, both his arms, both his legs, both his huge feet and both his buttocks are wriggling, at great speed, independently, all the time."

The hilarious quote is, of course, about Mick Jagger, whose stage performance during the 1976 Rolling Stones concert at Earls Court did not impress Martin Amis much; I w
...more
Clint
Aug 22, 2007 Clint rated it did not like it
Martin Amis is one of my favorite writers, but this collection of non-fiction just kind of sucks. I don't give a fuck about nukes.
Mark
Apr 18, 2016 Mark rated it liked it
This is a collection of pieces Martin Amis did for newspapers and magazines in the eighties and early nineties. It surely is a mixed bag, but I have catholic tastes: I'm interested in darts, political conventions ànd Anthony Burgess. Amis’ writing is unfailingly good, at times scintillating. This is a great bedside book.

The main reason I withhold a fourth star is spite. I was gobsmacked by Amis’ ignorance about Belgium, my home country. He seems to think it takes two days to cross it (it takes t
...more
James
Astonishingly well-written, always insightful, by turns hilarious and deadly serious, and with an admirable variation of topics, Amis's essays are the best I've read since the peak of Vidal's career. In other words, he vies with his late friend Christopher Hitchens as the best essayist of the last twenty or so years. This collection is a superb introduction to Amis's body of work, and the pleasures it provides are constant and surprising.
Brent Legault
Mar 26, 2008 Brent Legault rated it really liked it
Shelves: nabokoviana
He's at his best when he writes about other writers and their writings: Greene, Updike, Ballard, Naipaul, Bellow, Rushdie, Larkin, Burgess and of course, Nabokov. But there is no worst in this collection, only less than best. These are the pieces like RoboCop II, Expelled and Cannes, which though well-done, seem a bit too ephemeral to be put between the covers of a book.
Dave
Jun 07, 2009 Dave rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Amis is amusing, but not nearly as funny or original as I wish he was. The best stuff is all about authors and their lives: Graham Greene, V.S. Pritchett, John Braine, Isaac Asimov, the Nabokovs. The worst is all about sports.
Perry Whitford
A selection of journalistic articles from Amis, written for the likes of Esquire, the Observer and The New Statesman, back in the days before he became a tiresome, intolerant bore.

Most of the thirty three pieces are very short and can be split into two main categories: writing about places, or writing about other writers. Only one article distinguishes itself in both length and subject.
This article is named 'Nuclear City: The Megadeath Intellectuals'. Well, OK, the title tells you that it's also
...more
dead letter office
Mar 27, 2008 dead letter office rated it it was ok
i feel sad that mrs. nabokov had to put up with this guy in her old age.
Esther
Oct 02, 2014 Esther rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good collection of his journalism. The features on other authors - Updike, Rushdie esp good. Very sharp and funny pieces on the Republican Convention in 1988 - Dan Quayle, he reads like an Amis creation. What a cretin.
Best Amis-ism in the book: obese tourist - 'shot to pieces gastrically'.
Richard Bardon
Jan 22, 2013 Richard Bardon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As much as I love Amis' fiction (Money and Dead Babies especially), I love his works of journalism even more. One of my favorites I read in 2012. While some of the topics are dated--a 20 page treatise on the historically uneventful 1988 Republican Presidential Convention comes to mind-- the joy of writing and thinking shines through and guides the modern reader though. Cold war era nuclear fear is a running motif throughout most of the essays, as was common in Amis 1980s and early 90s work, but ...more
Shaun
Sep 30, 2012 Shaun rated it it was ok


There's no sense in denying that I skipped to the parts about writers: Graham Greene, John Updike, Anthony Burgess, Isaac Asimov, etc. Portraits of this kind, as found in Alfred Kazin's works (but way, way better in imagery and poetic nuance), have always compelled me. These pieces are short, though, and leave one wanting more. What a joy if he had lengthened the observations on Updike's "demented" cheerfulness and sentimentality, as well as Asimov's acknowledgement that it takes a great effort
...more
Andy
Feb 18, 2014 Andy rated it really liked it
Despite making fun of Martin Amis in a recent blog post, I really enjoyed this collection of profiles, ranging from John Updike to Roman Polanski to Madonna. Martin Amis is primarily known as a novelist but he's a great journalist and doesn't take himself too seriously. If you're not in the mood for a novel but want to sample great writing in drips and drabs, I'd check this out.
Jonathan
Jun 27, 2014 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Excellent prose by Amis, as always. His cool, dispassionate, and hilarious narrative of what it was like to attend a Rolling Stones concert was itself worth the price of admission.
Jamespc
Jun 21, 2015 Jamespc rated it really liked it
Some of his best pieces are here, including my favorite--a visit to Anthony Burgess
Valentina
Jul 05, 2010 Valentina rated it liked it
This is a compilation of some of Amis' best essays, book reviews and articles, published in the British press in the 1980s and 1990s. His writing is entertaining, witty and often humorous. However, the author shows a tendency to indulge in his own talent with words a bit too much sometimes, making the reader wonder if his pieces are about the subject at hand or, really, just about the author's own sharp mind.

In any case, it has a few pearls, fabulous pieces about Salman Rushdie, Isaac Asimov, V.
...more
matt

I don't know what he's got, but he's such a pleasure to read that I can't get enough of him. I'm looking forward to diving head first into a big pile of his books sooner rather than later (I hope).

He can do anything- and with a sly humor which is pretty dark, a sure eye of absurdism, dazzling erudition, common sense, and a sincere if subtle moral purpose.

Long live Martin Amis...
David
Apr 03, 2008 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
Though my experience with martin Amis's fiction has been decidedly mixed (partly because he has a penchant for writing about truly despicable characters, and seems to relish doing so), I find his essays to be generally rewarding. This collection of pieces, written in the 1980's for the most part, were interesting and not as dated as one might imagine.
Michael
May 19, 2007 Michael rated it really liked it
A great pleasure to read Amis's reviews and essays, as he brings the same black wit and fine intelligence to bear on everything from writing contests to Kurt Vonnegut, and in the process reveals lots about his writing process, thinking, and more.
Ron
Dec 17, 2015 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The essays in this book, like all others by Amis, are interesting, funny, and take on a broad range of subjects. My favorites are his visit with Graham Greene and Isaac Asimov as well as his essay on Salman Rushdie.

Excellent read.
Rob
Dec 10, 2009 Rob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblio
Pretty good, some parts quite amusing, some of these essays were especially dated and necessarily a relic of their time. I'll probably read more of Amis' essays, however.
Lyn
Nov 05, 2012 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some funny bits & I liked the author essays but I had to reach for the dictionary too much. This guy seems to exult in his own erudition way too much
Jatan
Jul 20, 2012 Jatan rated it liked it
Reminded me of all the reasons why I like Amis. His acerbic, prosaic wit coupled with the trademark dry British humor makes it a delectable read.
Henry
Nov 14, 2007 Henry rated it really liked it
Not as good as the 'war against cliche' but he cant write badly, he just doesnt let himself, his standards are so damn high.
Keith Miller
Mar 30, 2009 Keith Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Visiting Mrs. Nabokov: And Other Excursions (Vintage International) by Martin Amis (1995)
Robert
Aug 29, 2016 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of Martin Amis' essays. For fans
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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
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