Jean-marcel's Reviews > Money

Money by Martin Amis
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Apr 20, 2012

really liked it

I've read about seven of Amis's books now, and I'm pretty sure that this one is my favourite. here all the filth and vileness that Amis depicts has a really clear purpose and direction, the journey the narrator makes is extraordinarily well paced, there are many outright funny bits and some uncomfortably funny stuff too. Amis continues his tradition of writing the most unerotic sex scenes known to literature, and basically making the focus of his story a despicable lout whom you want so badly to hate but whom you end up feeling sorry for by the end. I found myself relating to John Self probably more than any other Amis protagonist...ought I to be disturbed by that?

As usual with Amis, there's some post-modern metafiction stuff going on, with Martin Amis himself being a very minor character in the book, and John Self himself occasionally showing flashes of true lucid clarity and intelligence you'd normally be skeptical of such an unrepentently illiterate, sad, frustrated filthmonger being able to come up with even if he were forced to stay sober for a year. The descriptions of Self's personal habits are hilarious, but the parts that tickled me most were his meetings with the various washed up movie stars, which were so pointed and dead on that they might just colour your impressions of blockbusters and their "leading lights" for the rest of your life. There's a clever double vision happening with the narrative, as the USA chapters alternate with the English ones, the American excursions being delirious, wild flights of fancy filled with real and imagined excess, while the "returns home" are grey, depressed, full of stinking pubs and zombie people and empty pornography. I think this mad bipolar way of looking at life ends up contributing much to why I feel so strongly about this one and end up empathising with Self in startling ways. Amis has hit on something pretty profound here that's difficult to articulate, but it has to do with the Trojan horse of modern western life, the illusion of money, and the need to break out of one's narrow, boxed-in world and heed the tantalising, alluring promise of being able to replace it with a ridiculous dream. For a while, john Self lives that dream, and he even attempts to find redemption through it, in a bumbling, clumsy way. It is these efforts, while crawling through the mud, to make himself into a better person, that are ultimately heartbreaking, and when the dream is punctured, there's still the return to Earth, and somehow John Self is not the same person he was at the outset. Maybe things will be better for him now...maybe.
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