Jun 25, 09
Read in June, 2009
It's possible that in the past I may have represented myself as someone who has read London Fields. That's because I absolutely thought I did! I was confusing it with Money, or the Rachel Papers, or something. All I know is that every time I saw it on a bookshelf I checked it off and moved on.
So recently a particularly ugly cover made me pick it up and, scanning the first few pages, I realised I'd never read it at all! Exciting.
And holy shit. It was pretty amazing, as an Amis novel. His magnum opus? Unending bleak and cynical and as black as funny as all heck. It could be labeled misogynistic, classist, racist, but really is just even-handedly misanthropic. No one is held in high regard. If you went in with an axe to grind there are any number of millstones. I myself was offended on behalf of ineffectual and winsome white men everywhere.
The plot is convoluted but ingenious. The characters are preposterous. The sleeve notes make a Dickens comparison and it rings true. These are stereotypes writ large, more awful and scheming and selfish than seemingly plausible for a novel with serious intent. Marmaduke may be my favourite villain in a lifetime of reading.
Amis is a unbearable and showboating smartarse. I wish he'd come back.