(To buy Understanding Martin Amis, Second Edition (2004) from amazon.com, click on the book cover or title)
Summary reviews of first edition:
From Book News, Inc. , February 1, 1996
From the AAUP Publisher's Web:
Understanding Martin Amis, by James Diedrick, is the first full-length study of a writer whose work has generated controversy and acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Drawing on uncollected interviews, reviews, and criticism, James Diedrick maps the distinctive features of Amis's fictional landscape, from the sociosexual satire of The Rachel Papers and Money to the bold experimentation of London Fields, Time's Arrow, and The Information. Diedrick argues that Amis's reputation as the "bad boy" of English letters is inseparable from his uncompromising social and artistic vision. Amis directly challenges the "genteel tradition" that still dominates British fiction, seeking forms adequate to the unsettling experience of postmodernity.
Although much has been made of Martin Amis's relationship with his father, novelist Kingsley Amis, Diedrick reveals significant differences between the two. Martin Amis consistently opposed the political and aesthetic conservatism of his father. In the 1970s, as a member of the "New Oxford Wits," he was associated with the leading progressive journals in Britain, including the New Statesman. Diedrick shows how these experiences shaped his social outlook, and how they influenced his novels.
Diedrick identifies two complementary impulses in Martin Amis's work: an incisive wit aimed at contemporary social realities and a love of verbal play and formal experimentation inspired by Vladimir Nabokov. While most of Diedrick's study analyzes Amis's fiction, where the topical is forged into enduring shape by the literary, he also argues for the importance of Amis's considerable journalistic oeuvre, and provides close readings of his two nonfiction collections, The Moronic Inferno and Visiting Mrs. Nabokov. Understanding Martin Amis gives students, scholars, and admirers of the British writer an overview of the characteristics that distinguish his work.
Includes bibliographical references and index
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