cover image Success


Martin Amis. Random House Value Publishing, $0.99 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-517-56649-7

Amis's American reputation is accelerating, and this early novel, published in Britain nine years ago, is appearing here for the first time. It bears his usual hallmarks: an irresistible narrative flow, writing that seems effortlessly to embrace extremes of tough verismo and delicate poetry, and a remorseless cynicism that one London reviewer has unerringly characterized as ""exhilarating unpleasantness.'' Amis's tale is of two foster brothers: Gregory, an aristocratic, self-deluded esthete and sexual all-rounder, and his lower-class adopted sibling Terry, who is as physically uncouth as Gregory is gorgeous, but whose grim tenacity and realism enable him to prevail in the hideous social struggle that is Amis's vision of London in the '70s. This is not a book for the squeamish: there is misogynism and racism galore (shades of Amis pere?), an obsessive attention to the messier bodily functions, a prevailing mood of apocalyptic hysteria and a number of comic asides that inspire winces more often than laughs. Amis is a vast talent who seems to have only his prose under control; but there is no escaping his ghastly readability, or the way his festering visions linger in the mind. (September)