Amis Bookshelf--4


Books recommended by friends of
The Amis Web:


Hunter Hayes, Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Southern Mississippi and associate editor of Product, the USM literary journal: 


In Between the Sheets and Other Stories, The Comfort of Strangers, by Ian McEwan


Grey Area: And Other Stories by Will Self


The Five Gates of Hell, by Rupert Thomson


The Collector, The Thought Gang, by Tibor Fischer (The Thought Gang is also recommended by Martin Amis in his "summer reading" recommendations in the Sunday Times (6 August 1995: 76).


Samuli Knuuti, "a 28-year-old Finnish freelance journalist with a bit of a thing for English literature. I studied criticism in Helsinki University and wrote my graduate thesis on the satirical aspects of Amis's Money": 


Infinite Jest ("over thousand pages long but definitely worth the effort");   A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (" brilliant essays on tennis, David Lynch, luxury cruises and the effect of television on modern literature"), by David Foster Wallace


The Debt to Pleasure, by John Lancaster ("Nabokov's Pale Fire re-written as a cook book and a thriller")


Restraint of Beasts, by Magnus Mills ("when you think you have pinned the book down as a bleakly funny working class novel, the spirit of Kafka crashes the party...")

bullet White Merc With Fins, by James Hawes ("The Rachel Papers for the Nineties? A bit light, perhaps, but fun and promising")
bullet Complicity, by Iain Banks ("a truly nasty and intelligent thriller from a gifted but very uneven author"); also recommended by Hunter Hayes

bullet Ian Nicholls; ". . .originally from Manchester (UK), but . . .now studying at Lincoln University in the east of England":

bullet Tough Tough Toys for Tough Tough Boys, by Will Self (also recommended by Hunter Hayes)
bullet Cross Channel, by Julian Barnes (for a great Internet site devoted to Julian Barnes, click here)
bullet Big Sur, by Jack Kerouac (also recommended by Donna Lee)
bullet Music for Chameleons, by Truman Capote
bullet The Dead Sea Poems, by Simon Armitage

bullet Julienne Clinch ("After living in Los Angeles for most of my life (UCLA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the lot) I came home to a smallish town in Washington State to live with my octogenarian mére, three dogs, and an African gray parrot named 'Baudelaire.' His antics & ravings about sex are as much as I can handle after at The LA Fair Experience. As I once told Martin Amis at dinner in Bev Hills, 'Everyone, here, is famous. I am anonymous and that is rare.' Martin, the extremist writer, remarked, 'what a good story'"):

bullet Underworld, MAO II, White Noise, by Don Delillo
bullet Tomcat in Love, by Tim O'Brien ("a pomo comic novel about a linguistics professor who postmodernistically fights the war of 'love'; superb, hilarious")
bullet The Aleph and Others Stories 1933-1969, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Norman Thomas Giovanni. Not since John Milton have a blind poet and his stories so changed the reality of the world.
bullet Lives of the Monster Dogs, by Kirsten Bakis
bullet Doctor Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party, by Graham Greene
bullet Conversing with John Cage, by Richard Kostelanetz ("A mind that is interested in interested precisely in the things that are at extremes. I'm like that. Unless we go to extremes we won't get anywhere"--John Cage)

bullet Andrew Brown (in his own words, "Andy worked as laborer and idled as student 'til age 25 when he commenced writing in various fields, commercial and otherwise, which he has done ever since"). In addition to "everything by Charles Dickens, Vladimir Nabokov, literary biographer Richard Ellmann, and Nabokov scholar Brian Boyd," Andy recommends these specific books:

bullet The Autobiography of Malcolm X
bullet Manchild in the Promised Land, by Claude Brown
bullet The Algiers Motel Incident, by John Hersey


bullet Tim Liebler: I lift weights and women find me very attractive.
bullet The Ground Beneath Her Feet, by Salman Rushdie: More accessible than his previous fare.
bullet Confessions of Zeno, by Italo Svevo: Zeno is a distant relative of John Self.
bullet Riotous Assembly, by Tom Sharpe: An outrageously hilarious book (his first) about an ass-backwards place.
bullet Our Dumb Century: 100 Years of Headlines From American's Finest News Source. Winner of the 3rd annual Thurber Prize for American Humor.
bullet Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. Probably the funniest book to come out of America.
bullet And don't forget:

bullet Donna S. Lee, ("technically, a writer"), authors programming documentation at Apple Computer, Inc. and reads Martin Amis to relax in his clarity of observation, freshness of language, and non-avoidance of pain:

bullet The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy (Far and away the best novel that I read in 1998, this book is very different from any that Amis has written, yet throughout it was clear to me that the two authors are gifted with very similar talents, in quality and quantity.)
bullet Crow Road, by Iain Banks (Yes, Banks is truly uneven, but this one's a real pleasure.)
bullet Revenge of the Lawn, by Richard Brautigan (It's art, what can I say?)
bullet The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster (A brilliant and funny book that works equally well for kids and adults.)
bullet Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud (Not a novel, but so enlightening that I just have to include it.)

bullet Chris Sampson "recently awoke to find himself a burnt-out software whiz-kid, fearfully advancing into his thirties with no sense of purpose whatsoever. Having no literary training or talent worth talking about, Mr Sampson lives in heaven. His hobbies include talking to God and arranging seemingly random lightning strikes on English Premiership football referees." His recommendations:

bullet The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera
bullet Homo Faber, by Max Frisch
bullet All Men are Mortal, by Simone de Beauvoir (from the synopsis: "Probably de Beauvoir's strangest and most compelling novel, this is the captivating story of a beautiful young actress who revives a downcast stranger at a French resort. He becomes thoroughly attached to her and confides a terrifying truth: he is immortal. But having been resuscitated into enjoying life again, he soon starts breaking free from her grasp and all notions of mortality").
bullet Diaries, Alan Clark (Chris: "Alan Clark you may not have heard of. He's a minor Tory politician, and as such his politics are deeply objectionable. However, the diaries are superbly written, full of self-pity and ennui, and through them you can see the political causes of the State of England that MA writes about").
bullet Nil By Mouth, written and directed by Gary Oldman (this is the video of the film; Chris actually recommended the screenplay ("because I know how much MA loves them") but I could only locate the film itself)


bullet H. K. Smith:
bullet I'm Losing You, by Bruce Wagner. "Not for the squeamish, but somehow I think Amis fans can stand it. A brilliant, scathing portrayal and indictment of Hollywood types. Wagner's bravura prose style is nearly as virtuosic as Amis', as he proffers this unblinking portrait of some horrible, irredeemable souls. His corrosive rage at the corruption and phoniness of these show business humanoids is truly shocking."
bullet Permanent Midnight, by Jerry Stahl. "Also not for the squeamish, also set in Hollywood. This is Stahl's real-life account of his nightmare descent into heroin hell and his accompanying success as a screenwriter of such TV shows as Alf and Thirty-something. I don't usually go in for 'junk chronicles,' but the relative squalor described here is redeemed by Stahl's irrrepressible gallows humor."
bullet High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby. "Some might think this is a light read, but it's way better than that. Hornby really understands the underpinnings of the crazy struggle that goes on between men and women these days. He also really understands addiction to pop culture. A delightful and moving book."
bullet Nobody's Fool, Straight Man, by Richard Russo. "If you haven't discovered Russo yet, what the hell are you waiting for? Very rich, very funny. They made a decent movie of Nobody's Fool with Paul Newman, but the book is even better. Straight Man is hilarious and poignant at the same time - it should appeal to a lot of visitors to the Amis Web, because it is a wicked and tasty satire of academia."
bullet Burning the Days, by James Salter.
"This is a stunning, beautiful book. It's hard to read it without stopping at nearly every page, dazzled by the beauty and lyricism of the writing. If you find yourself envying Salter's adventurous and romantic life, don't worry: it just means you're human."
bullet Sunset Limited, by James Lee Burke. "Or any of the other Dave Robicheaux books by Burke. As good as escapist fiction gets. Burke's David Robicheaux is as rich and fully rendered as any character in all of literature. Great psychological realism, great lyrical descriptions of Louisiana life and natural beauty. (I live close to the area he describes, and trust me, he hits it bang dead on...)."

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