Jean-marcel's Reviews > London Fields

London Fields by Martin Amis
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Jun 12, 12


It's a Martin Amis book. You will feel kind of defiled and filthy after reading it, but also sharper and challenged. I read this book aloud to my girl years back, and for months afterward we would both horse around and try to talk like Keith Talent. He really is one of the most memorable in a long line of Amis scumbags: Rather dangerous, but the book sort of builds him up, deflates him and makes him seem rather pathetic, though not as much so as Money's John Self, for example.

The scenario here is very, very strange. The "femme fatale" is an actress who plays with these two fellows: Keith, the conn artist, scammer and thug, and Guy Clinch, his apparent opposite who lives in comfort in one of the city's best neighbourhood, has a fine home, a son, and a bullshit marriage. She does it all for the sake of theatre, but she wants something. Specifically, she wants to be murdered in a most dramatic and potent way. I was never too clear on why she wanted this, but she's sort of the "mysterious other" that drives the book on; her motives are obscure and cloudy and I'm not sure Amis himself would be able to give you a straight answer.

There's a weird digression about sodomy part way through that had me shaking my head and thinking, "tut, Martin, you don't really believe this shit, do you?" But then, "ah, I noticed you put this in your book....so what do you really believe?" is probably the absolute worst question you could ever pose to an author, and as the whole story is told in the first person by a visiting writer who is an unwitting part of Nicola Six's games, I wouldn't really consider his word as a stand-in for Amis's. Still, the Samson Young narrator character seems to have a number of Amis's odd little obsessions. Why does it always come back to nukes, with Amis? He seems to like to set his stories at the edge of some great apocalyptic event, but he never quite tells you what this tension is all for, or what this event really means. And what's the deal with the demonic baby?

SO yes, you can easily breeze through this book despite all its subtleties, and I wouldn't recommend this. It's probably the most abstract Amis narrative I've come across yet, despite its apparently straightforward (if distinctly odd) plot. The ending is the sort of thing you might miss if you blink too much. There are scenes and strange asides and digressions that seem a little inexplicable, but made more sense to me upon second reading. The book's also hilarious in a number of ways, though you may find its humour to be somewhat in poor taste if you are of a sensitive disposition. I loved Keith Talent probably more than I should have, and I'm sure this would make Martin A. grin with evil mirth.

And yes, it really is all about clinicism..."onna darts!"
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways This book is one of the ones that, after reading, I felt I'd been bitch-slapped in the original sense of the term.

I liked your review a lot!


Jean-marcel Richard wrote: "This book is one of the ones that, after reading, I felt I'd been bitch-slapped in the original sense of the term.

I liked your review a lot!"



Thanks, Richard! Yeah, Amis does tend to do that to his readers. I really like him but sometimes I feel like he's pouring filthy mud all over my head and laughing at us all, and I don't mean in a nice, friendly sort of way.


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways I myownself don't tend to feel that filthy mud and pointed laughter are the social equivalents to "love your hair" and "let's do lunch."

I feel this way, though without the counterbalancing pleasures you seem to find in Amis, about Pynchon. My standard line about him is, "Og think nasty writer man laughing at Og."


Jean-marcel Richard wrote: "I myownself don't tend to feel that filthy mud and pointed laughter are the social equivalents to "love your hair" and "let's do lunch.",/i>Haha, point taken, man...


"I feel this way, though without the counterbalancing pleasures you seem to find in Amis, about Pynchon. My standard line about hi..."



hah, I hated Crying of Lot 49 a lot, and that's apparently one of his "nicer" books. Gravity's Rainbow does seem really interesting and I'd like to give it another try sometime (I initially gave up on it after just a few pages...not in the mood, I guess!) BUt yeah, I know what you mean. Did you review any Pynchon?


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways I've got the one you found, but I wrote reviews for my defunct book blog of V. and Gravity's Rainbow. They're two computers back on a hard drive, I think. I hope.


Jean-marcel Richard wrote: "I've got the one you found, but I wrote reviews for my defunct book blog of V. and Gravity's Rainbow. They're two computers back on a hard drive, I think. I hope."

I would like to try Gravity's Rainbow again, maybe. If I utterly hate it in the end, that's it, between me and Pynchon. Did you like it a little more than Lot, at least? It seems harder to read but ultimately I'm hoping that it's more rewarding...


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways I like Faulkner, I like Henry James, I like Neal Stephenson, I even like James Joyce before Ulysses. I'm not against working for my story.

Gravity's Rainbow requires focus and effort. It cuts you no slack. It makes no bones about its purpose, which is to test the limits of recursion and allusiveness as storytelling devices in a novel.

If that kind of academic tomfoolery is not okay with you, chuck this one away like it gots the cooties.


Jean-marcel I'm probably not so much in favour of this tomfoolery, yet still somehow I am intrigued.

I just discovered Faulkner's greatness this year, really, and I am bowled over by his genius.


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways The only way tp be sure is to read for yourself. I shall stand on the Shorelines of Sanity and wave my tear-moistened hanky at your boat departing into the Swamps of Confusion.


message 10: by mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday agree about the anal sex part. a strange digression, and I found myself rolling my eyes.


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