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Martin Amis (1949 - )

Related: 1949 - author - British literature - 20th century literature

Titles: Time's Arrow: Or the Nature of the Offense (1991)

London Fields (1989) - Martin Amis [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The protagonist, Nicola Six plots her own murder. See also Muriel Spark's 1970 Driver's Seat.


Martin Amis (born in Oxford, August 25, 1949) is an English novelist and son of Sir Kingsley Amis.

His most famous novels are Money, Time's Arrow and London Fields--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Amis [Jan 2005]

London Fields (1989) - Martin Amis

Martin Amis is not a crime writer. Yet murder and violence features repeatedly in most of his novels. The Rachel Papers (1973) confines its sadism to a literary hatchet job executed by the narrator on the girl he seduces and discards in the course of his nineteenth year. Dead Babies (1975) ends in an orgy of mass killings. Success (1978) has at its climax the suicide of the two protagonists' (step) sister, a victim of both their needs. Her suicide parallels the stepbrother's memory of his sister's murder by their father. Other People. A Mystery Story (1981) takes for its central character a woman who was murdered by her homicidal lover before the book even opens. Money. A Suicide Note (1984), as its title suggests, is meant to end, but doesn't, with the death of the protagonist and narrator - maybe he escapes his fate because he is also the narrator. Einstein's Monsters (1987), five stories set before and after a nuclear holocaust, is necessarily filled with death and mass destruction. London Fields (1989) follows the Machiavellian schemes of its female protagonist to have herself murdered by one of three potential murderers. Finally Time's Arrow (1991) recounts the life (backwards) of a Nazi doctor and mass murderer.

Why does death, murder and victimization appear so frequently in Amis's fiction? The answer lies not just in the murderous nature of contemporary civilization. It also has to do with the nature of the narrative act. In his later novels beginning with Other People this prevalence of violence against one or more of the characters is accompanied by the introduction into the narrative of the narrator in person (rather than as a disguised author-figure, such as the tutor near the end of The Rachel Papers). This typically postmodern device draws attention to the highly ambiguous role played by any narrator in fiction. Whoever narrates a story both creates and annihilates characters. Amis calls his books "playful literature" (Neustatter 71) and describes himself as "a comic writer interested in painful matters" (Smith 79). Brought up during the Cold War with its perpetual threat of nuclear annihilation, and finding himself in a world close to ecological disaster, Amis maintains that "it isn't a set purpose to make this life look frightful. It is, to the writer, self-evidently frightful" (Haffenden 7). In the postmodern world, he argues, the "idea that the novelist punishes bad characters and rewards good ones doesn't bear up any more" (Rayner 20). At the same time he points out that the author is not free of sadistic impulses. But, he comments, it isn't real sadism, because he doesn't believe in his characters in the same sense that he believes in real people (Haffenden 12). Nonetheless the author, in mercilessly manipulating his characters to suit his purposes, does vicariously participate in the viciousness of the age in which he lives. --http://www.csulb.edu/~bhfinney/MartinAmis.html [Jun 2005]

see also: Martin Amis - literature - fiction

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