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2005 Booker prize longlist


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. . . i've read "midnight's children" about 5 times now, and each time it seems more and more like grass or marquez lite. and it always feels like it should end 150 pages before it does. . .

That makes me feel better. I've attempted to read Midnight's Children about 5 times now, and each time given up about 150 pages before it ends.

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but that's probably true of amis the younger as well.

Did you think that about Money?

the compulsively readable part or the not staying with me part? it certainly was compulsively readable (and possibly more unpleasant than any self i've read). and it probably has stayed with me more than any of his other books--they do tend to blur together somewhat.

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I hope no-one expects me to remember what I was thinking when I made those posts back last month.

come on, wouldn't you rather argue about this?

 

okay, new topic: will self--amis redux or better than amis?

No. I enjoyed Cock and Bull but I couldn't finish any of the others.

 

I have a soft spot for Rod Liddle's* Too Beautiful for You, another in the same vein but a lot funnier than Self.

 

*disclaimer: one of my chums is his publisher

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Has Martin Amis written a better novel than Money? One would hope he had, as that book is now nineteen years old. But London Fields and The Information, I felt, were no more than partly successful attempts to repeat the social satire of Money, and...er...then what did he do?

 

I came up with a new theory about all this the other day. The advantage of reading literature which is more than fifty years old is that, by and large, history has saved you a lot of trouble by sweeping all the rubbish into the trashcan. Unless you deliberately go out of your way to find obscure and forgotten novels (which I sometimes do).

 

If you read stuff from the last ten years - let alone new books - you are doing some unnecessary heavy lifting on history's behalf. Barnes, Zadie Smith, Ian McEwan - they'll all be long forgotten by mid-century. Save yourselves the energy.

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I can see myself becoming Richard Tull in The Information so easily that I have a soft spot for that book... Marooned in modernism while quietly - or not so quietly - pickling himself. A total disregard for the idea of having an audience is something I admire too easily. Not that Amis posesses that desire in the slightest - that book seems to be him exploring his own split personality - the 'genius' writer and the 'easy' one. Also going over the grounds of his broken friendship with Julian Barnes. I think my enjoyment of the book is perhaps more because of personal resonance than genuine quality perhaps

 

Money is obviously good, despite the misogeny and nastiness, and I'd say the same for London Fields. Probably too keen to prove his own cleverness even in his best books, but he does have a turn of phrase...

 

I've actually never read any Self so can't make the comparison. Is that Rod Liddle the same one who used to be the producer of Today on Radio 4 and had a gossipy divorce recently? I didn't know he'd written fiction....

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Has Martin Amis written a better novel than Money? One would hope he had, as that book is now nineteen years old. But London Fields and The Information, I felt, were no more than partly successful attempts to repeat the social satire of Money, and...er...then what did he do?

 

I came up with a new theory about all this the other day. The advantage of reading literature which is more than fifty years old is that, by and large, history has saved you a lot of trouble by sweeping all the rubbish into the trashcan. Unless you deliberately go out of your way to find obscure and forgotten novels (which I sometimes do).

 

If you read stuff from the last ten years - let alone new books - you are doing some unnecessary heavy lifting on history's behalf. Barnes, Zadie Smith, Ian McEwan - they'll all be long forgotten by mid-century. Save yourselves the energy.

Alas I have to very much agree with your theory Wilfrid. So much of the new art I encounter isn't going to make it out of the decade, let alone the century.... The question of how GOOD a critic history really is is of course the more interesting one, and why one should look outside the canon. In general, and in most arts, I tend to be impressed how good the canon seems to be though.

 

I trust my judgement in music enough to be pretty sure the music I'm the most interested in is probably the 'canon-in-waiting', but I don't feel I can be so confident in other fields. Is the Booker shortlist an accurate indicator though? I suspect not....

 

It is of course possible that our culture is simply going to stop forming a canon at all in the post-modern puddle we inhabit, but that's a big question for another day.

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I'd agree that Money is a better novel than London Fields and certainly better satire. But as funny as Money was, it didn't make me laugh aloud constantly the way London Fields did. I know that Amis is criticized, and rightly so, for being a bit too facile and aware of his own cleverness. But when he's funny there's no one better. Although he has been terribly gloomy for an awfully long time now. Self I like and I think he's a fine writer, but I don't think he's as talented as Amis. I'd say the same of McEwan if I hadn't disliked Saturday so much.

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Also going over the grounds of his broken friendship with Julian Barnes.

Talking of which I was interested to learn from Please Kill Me (thanks, Daisy) that Andrew, The Jackal, Wylie, the agent over whom they fell out was a graduate of the 70s NYC punk scene.

 

Is that Rod Liddle the same one who used to be the producer of Today on Radio 4 and had a gossipy divorce recently? I didn't know he'd written fiction....

The same. One book of short stories as far as I know.

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