Amis appears at the Huntington Library, Pasadena, April 27-29, 2000
(reporting by Shaun Mason, reactions by others, all from the Amis Discussion Board)
I left my place of work on the west side of Los Angeles, barreled through traffic via many short cuts, and arrived at Huntington Library with 35 minutes to spare. I had all my Amis volumes in a rucksack, hopefully to be signed, and to my delight found first editions of Heavy Water in the Library book store. I bought two (one for a friend) and got a seat on the second row. The room began to fill until there were well over 100 people, probably closer to 200. As the start time neared, into the room walked Amis amigos Salman Rushdie and Christopher Hitchens. They are co-participants in the 2-day conference at the library entitled The Novel in Britain 1950-2000. Rushdie had a huge smile, wich is probably permanent after the fatwa was lifted.
Martin walked in and passed me, looking right at me, so I said "Hi, Martin, nice to see you." he replied "It's nice to see you, too."
With a quick introduction he was at the podium. Apparently he's made a deal with Tina Brown to serialize Experience in Talk magazine, so it wasn't on sale, and due to the publishing embargo, he was not allowed to read from it.
He said, "I can't read from my new memoir, so I've written another memoir, a political one. He launched into a segment of what he described as a 60-page political memoir, in which he described the "fascist lunches" his father used to have with Robert Conquest, the poet and historian, and Tibor Samyuellen (not sure about the spelling of that). Within the discussion (Kingsley was a staunch anticommunist) Martin told many tales of the horrors of the Stalinist massacre, and details on how Lenin set the stage for wholesale slaughter of their own people. As he said "the bolsheviks behaved as if they were fighting a war against their own people."
I then stood in line to have my stack of books signed, and when my time came I said "I've been thinking all day about what to say to you, trying to find the words to describe what an honor this is for me to meet you."
He was extremely gracious and I gushed like a fucking school girl. I told him that Julie Clinch (ie, Jules) said hi, and he said "ah, yes." He remembered her well and when I told him he was in her thoughts often he said, "well, that's always nice, isn't it?"
He was smoking a Camel filterless cigarette and they had brought him a glass of beer. I thought that was wonderful. After complimenting him I said "so, how are things otherwise?" He said "Fine, thanks, I spent the day in the San Fernando Valley doing a journalistic piece and researching a novel on the porn industry." I said that I thought that was a great subject for a novel, and that there were several porn-related documentaries that had been released recently, which he'd heard about. I also told him I thought he was the most brilliant writer since James Joyce, and that I didn't care about any of the things people wrote about him in the press (or in here), that I thought he was a great writer and that's all that mattered.
Finally, I asked him if he'd ever seen the Martin Amis Web and he said no, that he was illiterate when it came to the internet. I told him "you should check it out, there is a large community of people there who are big fans of yours." He said he would check it out. I mentioned to him that I would be posting on here tonight to report on his reading. He smiled at that and then was done signing all my firsts, and away I went. I overheard Chris Hitchens asking where the reception was, I guess he was looking for a bar. All in all it was a wonderful evening having finally met The Man.
So Salman Rushdie appeared at the reading with a big grin on his face? The Fatwa? No, probably due to the fact that he'd just engaged in a bit of the old in out with his new girlfriend Padma who met at the Talk magazine premiere. All Manhattan is up in arms that Rushdie dines in posh restaurants with them. They don't feel safe and still fear for his life.
Just bought 'The Fiction of Martin Amis' which is basically a rehash of loads of interviews, reviews and Diedrick's book. It does cover every novel through to Heavy Water though. Any chance of an update Deedee?
||Report on Pasadena Reading (3 of 6), Read 13 times
||Martin Amis Discussion Web
||Friday, April 28, 2000 11:58 AM
Thanks very much for the interesting report, Shaun. I just hope Martin wasn't too upset by your implication that Joyce is better than him...
Alex: Padma! Well that explains who the beautiful young Indian woman was hanging on Rushdie's arm with an equal smile.
Stephen: LOL, he seemed fine with it at the time, especially considering there were other novelists of note within spitting distance of the signing table.
I'm probably going to attend the day's seminars on Saturday, at which Martin is reading again, and there is a discussion panel with he, Ian McEwan, Rushdie, Hitchens, et al, so I'll duly report on that also unless everyone is tired of hearing about Martin and wishes that I'd post ridiculous childish slams of his father.
Padma wrote her own cookbook.
Yep, that was her.
I'll be attending the conference tomorrow, so I assume I'll see more of her. If I get a chance, I'll talk to her and ask her about her cookbook.
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