The Winning Entry

Just before Christmas 1999, The Martin Amis Discussion Board sponsored a contest: write the opening paragraph(s) of Amis's forthcoming book: A Memoir (pre-order by clicking the title). Seven entries were received; the winning entry is published below.

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    This is a true story but I can't believe it's really happening.    

    I'm sitting here, enthroned here, almost choking on my chiselled teeth, this mouthful of marble, my garage downstairs throbbing with the majesty of the sleek sexwagon sprawled inside. You paid for these babies, you gave me these gifts, so in return, this book, my dears, is for you (and for my new mini-golf range, my knighthood, my cosmetic bust-thrust as Doctor Twistwick calls it, and anything else that cash can buy).

    Before we open the sluice, though, a few truths you should know: John Self succeeded in suicide, Keith sixed Nicola, Richard's kid was run over, and jealous Mike shot Jennifer herself (that whole sorry caper, I must confess, I plucked from the pages of the National Enquirer). I changed the endings to make them more artful, but now I find I'm bored of playing God. It's too goddamned easy. I told my publisher I wanted a challenge. He said I should write about myself.

    "Me?" I said, throwing my head back with waxy laughter. (After nine novels, he'd finally got the hint.)

    "Yah", he snorted, (it's a parlance we have - oh, and snorting, that's the industry's favourite pastime ever since Nick Hornby made fiction the new pop.) "Try making them love you again after that obese advance you frittered away, not to mention the anorexic pseudo-Chandler chick-lit you dished up for seconds. Your people, Martin, are bruised."

    "So poetic, Wayne," I said. "Have you thought of publishing yourself?"

    His words resound as I relax here with my Microshaft Voice-Recognition Word-Processo-Package (Like I lift my fingers for anyone anymore) and I figure this is a cinch. Giftwrapped. My people, bruised? I think of the Internet Infantry, masturbating over their modems, speckling the Marty-A Chat-Suites with speculation as to whether I'm logging on amongst them. They fix me up like some kind of Cyber Christ. Jeez, who do I need to impress? No love's been lost. What makes me so sure? Because you and I both know that all the molars and motors in the world are nothing to a novelist if he hasn't had the Booker. As my mantelpiece still awaits the weight of such brass, your devotion remains. Poor old Martin, you're saying. Time's Arrow was robbed. Too right. Keep it coming. Lay it on. And by the way, I chipped one of my teeth the other day. And last week, the wife pranged the new wheels, you know. Does this help? (Memo to Wayne: will this do?)
Whatever shape this chimera takes, it needs a name.     

* * * * * * 

    Tossing titles around is the latest parlour-game chez Amis. The Disinformation raises a smile. The Kingsley and I, perhaps? (Like I'd ever put his name before mine. Like such obliging deference would ever sell.) Why not simply Notting Hill? Barnes called his last one the same word twice. Now that's inventive. I was going to call this The Edge of Reason but I see Bridget Jones has beaten me to it. Bitch. No title at all might work. Yes, I see the cover now. No title. Just my name.

--posted by Chet Desmond

Wednesday, December 29, 1999 05:04 a.m.

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