Experience

Martin Amis, Author Hyperion Books $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7868-6652-6
The big book on this new publisher's first list is an occasionally combative but more often sweet-natured account of a literary life with an extraordinary father. Even by English standards Kingsley Amis, whom his son rightly sees as the finest comic novelist of his generation, was a highly eccentric figure: a man who loved women in the flesh as much as he appeared to disapprove of them in principle, an alcoholic who managed to create a large body of clear-headed work, a man who couldn't bear to be alone in a house at night, but whose mastery of invective was second to none--a difficult man to live with, it would seem, yet here recalled by Martin in the most fond and generous terms. The book revolves around a small group of seminal figures in Amis's life: his father; Saul Bellow, whom he seems to have adopted as a father figure; his young cousin Lucy Partington, who disappeared in 1973 and was later found to have been a victim of child-killer Frederick West; and longtime friend Christopher Hitchens. The controversial elements in his life aren't glossed over: the so-called cosmetic dentistry, about which the press so gloated at the time of Amis's parting from his previous agent for a larger book deal through Andrew Wylie, is shown to have been an attempt to correct, with extensive and painful surgery, a long-neglected condition of his teeth and jaw. His belated discovery of a previously unknown daughter is described with eloquent sweetness, and the account of the squabble with Kingsley's biographer, Eric Jacobs, over an account of the novelist's last days he gave to English newspapers is rendered more in sorrow than anger. There seems no doubt that a certain pugnaciousness in Amis has led to perplexingly hostile behavior toward him by the English press; it will be interesting to see how this candid, often funny and far from arrogant book will be treated there. B&W photos. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000
Release date: 05/01/2000
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FORMATS
Paperback - 406 pages - 978-0-375-72683-5
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-1-101-91024-5
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-307-36825-6
Paperback - 401 pages - 978-0-09-928582-3
Paperback - 978-2-07-030702-9
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-4464-0145-3
Hardcover - 410 pages - 978-0-224-06125-4
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