Callie's Reviews > The Pregnant Widow

The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis
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Apr 14, 12

Read from April 09 to 14, 2012

Almost finished. You can see why Amis is considered a major talent. He can do everything. Strong plot, fully developed characters, creative use of language, and he has Big Ideas, or Themes. You read and keep thinking, I should be reading this for a class and underlining and I should have a lit professor to guide me through all of it.

This novel is grown out of and pays tribute to the novels of mostly female British writers of the mostly Victorian era. Austen, Eliot. Social realism. Novels about men and women trying to hook up. It's tricky to write a contemporary novel that makes the characters wait until the very end to finally get together--it doesn't happen that way anymore. Yet Amis pulls that part of it off. What fails for me is that his protagonist is a twenty year old male who is obsessed with sex. Well, why do you have a problem with that? you ask, this is the reality of what single young men think about. Keith, the protagonist, is in love with Scheherazade simply because of her (to put it most delicately) wondrous bosom. He spends the entire novel trying to plot out a way to get with her without having to break up with his girlfriend, Lily. And, without hurting Lily's feelings. But it all feels hollow because it's only about sex and it's only about S's body. Keith and S. never really talk to each other much. They don't have any mind to mind or soul to soul connection. In the end, I don't care much whether they get together or not.

I think most women who love Austen and Eliot and their ilk love those books because they want to read about love and the complications of love. Amis is only writing about sex. Maybe that is what interests him.

In the end, though, 'it was ok' sounds about right for this book, I have to give it three stars. I did look forward to reading it each night, and Amis's worst is about ten times better than almost everyone else's best. There are insights and sentences and a level of intelligence and wit in this book that are, frankly, rare and definitely worthwhile.

Would I tell you to read it? Maybe try The Rachel Papers, I've heard a lot of people liked that one. I didn't love his memoir and I read Time's Arrow for a class, and found it difficult. So I've read three of his books and I haven't loved any of them. I keep giving him more chances, though. I can't say why.
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