cover image Einstein's Monsters

Einstein's Monsters

Martin Amis. Harmony, $1.99 (149pp) ISBN 978-0-517-56520-9

Kingsley's brilliant son, author of Success and Money, among others, continues to dazzle. This collection of stories is prefaced with an essay on the nuclear threat so trenchant and irrefutable that the book is worth reading for that alone. The stories that follow all carry through the same theme: the way in which images of fire, death and pollution undermine contemporary (and future) lives. Amis himself adduces influences on these tales as various as J. G. Ballard, Kafka, Borges and Saul Bellow; whatever the sources, they're all virtuoso exercises in dread. ""Bujak and the Strong Force'' is about a Polish strongman who weakens in the face of pointless evil; ``Insight at Flame Lake'' tells a spooky story of a child's schizophrenia; ``The Little Puppy That Could'' is a brilliantly conceived vision of innocence and horror; ``The Time Disease,'' a glib, flashy postmodernist exercise, has an American tone amazingly right for a British writer, and ``The Immortals'' is a zany tale that reads like a poignant Mel Brooks, if that can be imagined. The blurb talks about Amis as being ``diabolically talented,'' and that's no exaggeration. (May 29)