John Maniscalco's Reviews > Money

Money by Martin Amis
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M_50x66
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Aug 30, 10

Read in August, 2010

I attended a reading of Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens in which the author read a few paragraphs detailing his experience of attending a sex parlor with Martin Amis. After reading of his own experience, Hitch then told the audience that you can find the details of what his friend went through by reading his novel, Money. That was the advertisement that led me to this book.

Money is a book written by a clever author about a completely unoriginal topic. The main character, John Self, makes a living directing commercials and is about to make his first movie in the early 1980s. Ostensibly, the book chronicles the making of this movie but you would be hard pressed to find any work being done. He travels back and forth between New York and London doing nothing but drinking, smoking, and searching for sex. Despite this, the money keep rolling in and he is a wealthy man, or so he thinks.

Money contains some very witty dialogue and some interesting insights on the levels one will stoop to to make a lot of money, or at least the types of people who think money is everything. I'm not so sure it actually accomplished that. Just because you make up some unlikable characters does not mean they actually exist on a level that one could consider this a social commentary. There were some parts which I thought were funny and others which were arguably "deep," But this is supposed to be Martin Amis's break out novel and I've heard some refer to it as a masterpiece. After reading this book the first thought that popped into my head was "what is the big deal." Money corrupts? Not exactly an insight worthy of masterpiece status. People were selfish in the 80s? I suppose I am supposed to think that was true in only one particular decade. One gets the sense that just because Reagan and Thatcher were in power then, someone just had to write a book on greed and would automatically be praised for it. Martin Amis just so happened to be that author and Money just so happened to be that novel. Nothing special, it just got praised for what it claims to be.

One other thing. This book took a lot longer to get through than I thought it would. It's a bit repetitive and could perhaps have been about 100 pages shorter. This was supposed to be a mindless vacation book. It was and it wasn't. It wasn't at all thought provoking yet it seemed like a challenge to get through. The worst of both worlds.
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