Martin Amis – Money

Saturday 25th March

There was a time I used to look forward to the new Martin Amis, but he has fallen out of favour of late.  Somehow I missed this one though it was published in 1984.  The thing about Martin Amis’ books is that there are never two alike, in fact his whole style changes with each book – which I suspect must put some readers off, but quite interests me.  Who wants to write the same book twice (most successful authors actually)?

So, this book is about Money; the title is actually Money, a suicide note (in suitable lower case).  It is written by a very un-likable character; an overweight heavy drinking, heavy eating, pill popping, aggressive woman abuser and pornography addict, who seems to delight in his various expensive addictions.  He also has money, plenty of it and constantly extols the virtues of having ready money to burn. And burn it he does. The language is wonderful, colourful and inventive, and the narrative simply rolls along.  There are several jumps in location and time, and he keeps leaving you hanging on with only bits of the story told, ‘more of that later…’the narrator John Self often says, then leaps to America or London again and another thread of the complex and interwoven plot.  At times you are simply lost, adrift in incoherent thoughts and you wonder where you are, only to be rescued by some comic comment or absurd recollection.

Somewhere too Martin Amis appears and joins the plot, but seems to be waving knowingly from the sidelines; Martin is also a pretty unsympathetic creature.  But slowly you begin to like John Self and sympathise with him, only to be jolted back as he describes hitting women or even attempting to rape his girlfriend – appalling as these things are, you are swept along by the racy narrative and the usual comic consequences.

Martin must have had a ball writing this, hanging it all together and bringing it to some sort of a conclusion.  A really enjoyable read, and one truly reflecting the vulgar greed and money madness of the early Eighties, but not for the faint-hearted.  Maybe there should have been a warning on the inner cover…proceed with caution.