El a o, un fantasmag ricoPodr a ser el ltimo oto o del planeta Un calor anormal reseca la tierra, azotada por tormentas de polvo Y cuando por fin llega la lluvia, no cesa hasta parecer un diluvio eterno El clima pol tico no es menos ca tico y una crisis internacional se acerca a su punto de fisi n Este panorama apocal ptico constituye el m s que adecuado tel n de fondo para la terrible y divertida novela de uno de los m s talentosos escritores brit nicos de nuestros d as Campos de Londres se inicia con una perfecta inversi n del t pico entre los detritos de Portobello, la v ctima comienza a acechar a su victimario , la asesinada dar caza al asesino Vestida de negro, como corresponde a toda mujer fatal, la bella Nicola Six encuentra a su asesino en el pub local, el Black Cross, refugio de vividores, peque os delincuentes y aficionados a los dardos Nicola decide que la matar Keith, un estafador de poca monta, estafado l mismo por la vida, alimentado de pornograf a y televisi n, hijo de la Inglaterra thatcheriana, cruel y vulgar perfecto para el papel asignado Pero la escena del crimen no puede constituirse con s lo dos v rtices, y Nicola atraer a un tercero, Guy, el inocente arist crata fascinado por los bajos fondos, el ngel ca do que pondr en movimiento al terrible Keith Los tres se deslizar n en un minuet esperp ntico, en una danza de cortejos y decepciones que enmascaran apenas un s rdido fondo de perversi n y violencia Y quien lo contar todo es un narrador seducido y atrapado por la escena, Samson Young, un joven escritor americano mortalmente enfermo y, quiz , mortalmente est ril


10 thoughts on “Campos de Londres

  1. Glenn Russell Glenn Russell says:

    Samson Young, first person narrator of this Martin Amis novel, is a somewhat jaded, frequently sarcastic and acerbic 40 something intellectual literary writer from, not surprisingly, New York City But his hard edged Big Apple voice is absolutely pitch perfect for the story he is telling, a story involving a host of memorable and very human characters, not to mention a couple of super human characters an Incredible Hulk like toddler and one doozy of a MAN MAGNET, and, yes, indeed, that s spelle Samson Young, first person narrator of this Martin Amis novel, is a somewhat jaded, frequently sarcastic and acerbic 40 something intellectual literary writer from, not surprisingly, New York City But his hard edged Big Apple voice is absolutely pitch perfect for the story he is telling, a story involving a host of memorable and very human characters, not to mention a couple of super human characters an Incredible Hulk like toddler and one doozy of a MAN MAGNET, and, yes, indeed, that s spelled with all capital letters Meet the lady at the center of the novel s vortex, Ms Nicola Six modern day Helen of Troy, X rated femme fatale and manifestation of goddess Kali all rolled up into one everything you always wanted and everything you never wanted, your most cherished dream and your most dreaded nightmare, complete with Eastern European accent, mysterious Middle Eastern origins, Ms World face and figure, shiny dark hair and even shinier dark eyes Oh, my goodness, what a gal London Fields is a loose, baggy monster if you are looking for a tight knit murder mystery but if you enjoy your novels with many characters finely portrayed in gritty, grimy detail along with generous portions of philosophical musing thrown in along the way, then you will enjoy taking your time with its 470 pages Now, on one level, the men and women are stereotypes representing a particular social and cultural class, but on another level Amis fills out his characters with such vivid, visceral descriptions, their eccentricities, their passions, their intense emotions and desires, in a way, I almost had the feeling I was reading an epic with the streets of London standing in for the walls of Troy modern city life as the ultimate human blood sport One major character Keith Talent, low class grunge par excellence, a 29 year old addicted to liquor, pornography and sex, has made a life long career out of cheating and steeling Any time Keith opens his mouth we hear an open sewer of words thick, coarse, vulgar and garbled If there was ever an example of Wittgenstein s The limits of your language are the limits of your world , Keith is our man From what I ve said, you might think Keith would be totally despicable, a character incapable of our empathy, yet, through the magic of Amis fiction, we feel Keith s pain By way of example, here is a scene after Nicola, posing as a social worker, barged uninvited into his cramped, dirty, pint sized home and accused Keith s wife and Keith of being too poor and too ignorant to properly care for their baby girl Shortly thereafter, Keith is at Nicola s apartment and he looks at her and in his look he says Home was his secret Nobody had ever been there before Oh, there had been ingress rentmen and census people, the police, and cheating electricians and would be plumbers and so on as well as real social workers and probations officers but nobody he knew Not ever Only the dog, and the woman, and the child the insiders They, too, were secrets Home was his terrible secret Home was his dirty little secret And now the secret was out Words are exchanged Keith tells Nicola repeatedly she shouldn t ve fucking done it Nicola replies You didn t want me to know, did you, that you lived like a pig Keith says, That s soThat s so out of order We understand the humanness of Keith s plight no matter how crappy and filthy his living conditions, to have his private space violated and be called a pig by such a woman Second major character Guy Clinch, a wealthy, refined, well educated gentleman with the heart of a love poet reminds me of the 1950 60s British actor Terry Thomas Here is Guy in Nicola s apartment, letting her know how rude men can be about women and sex Guy got to his feet and came forward In no uncertain terms, and with his mind half remembering some analogous recital, some previous exercise in illusion shattering when how long ago what about , he told her what Keith and his kind were really like, how they thought of women as chunks of meat, their dreams of violence and defilement Guy explaining the sexual dynamics of men and women to Nicola is like a university student explaining Machiavelli to Shakespeare s Richard III Talk about black humor Among the many other characters, one of my personal favorites is Marmaduke, Guy Clinch s son who needs an army of nannies to keep him from tearing the house apart and wreaking havoc on adults, especially his mother and most especially his father When his wife Hope was pregnant, Guy was worried about protecting his son from the world after colossal Marmaduke s birth, he s worried about protecting the world from his son Here is a taste of what our first person narrator Samson has to say about the child Turn your back for ten seconds and he s in the fire or out the window or over in the corner, fucking a light socket he s the right height for that, with a little bend of the knees His chaos is strongly sexual, no question If you enter his nursery you ll usually find him with both hands down the front of his diaper, or behind the reinforced bars of his playpen leering over a swimsuit ad in one of the magazines that some nanny has thrown in to him He goes at that bottle like a top dollar Vegas call girl, like a grand an hour sex diva Lastly, a word about the novel s structure Samson Young is in the process of writing a novel about the very novel we hold in our hands, offering ongoing critique and color commentary on the art of his telling and the act of our reading Metafiction, anyone Nothing like heaping another layer or two or three on top of an already many layered work of literary fiction


  2. Jessica Jessica says:

    What a fun fucking book I blew off everything today and, well, most of the week just to read this book, because it was that fucking fun God, I loved this book I just read it nonstop, and when the recurring irritation that is my life did tear me away, I kept thinking about what I d read, and just ached to go back to read it someI went at this book hard, folks, and now that I m finished, I feel like I barely can walk across the room Maybe this qualifies as Too Much Information, but What a fun fucking book I blew off everything today and, well, most of the week just to read this book, because it was that fucking fun God, I loved this book I just read it nonstop, and when the recurring irritation that is my life did tear me away, I kept thinking about what I d read, and just ached to go back to read it someI went at this book hard, folks, and now that I m finished, I feel like I barely can walk across the room Maybe this qualifies as Too Much Information, but I think reading London Fields might have given me a urinary tract infection.Okay, so I ve never read anything by Martin Amis, probably for the same reasons most of us haven t yeah, remember that guy you knew who liked Martin Amis so much Yeah Ughhhh yeah, he was disgusting, really repulsive, I know That arrogant prick I know, I know Well, Martin Amis is that guy, you definitely can tell by his author photo Last night I was out with friends and trying to convince them to give this book a shot They both did sound interested, despite misgivings I always associate him with this guy I knew in high school, ugh until the book came out and got passed around, and unfortunately opened to the author photo Sick, Meg said, shuddering, and shoved the book back into my hands Sorry, April murmured, shaking her head Sorry, but no Ugh Look at that guy That guy Martin Amis Martin Amis that guy.So yeah, and it turns out London Fields is also that guy You know the guy I mean, that close friend of yours every time you meet for dinner he shows up forty five minutes late, he invariably, embarrassingly, and with appalling success hits on the waitress, and after dinner at drinks he smokes all your cigarettes and keeps interrupting you, and somehow runs out of cash so you have to buy the drinks, even though he makes like six timesmoney than you ever will When you hang out London Fields regales you with stories about his job in advertising, about the child idiot label whores he s currently dating he s constantly demonstrating his immense cleverness, and often uses words you have sneak off to look up on your iphone OED Many of his screamingly hilarious anecdotes are about going to nightclubs or whorehouses with his old friends from Princeton There are always some difficult moments on these evenings with London Fields the cringe inducing narcissism, that inevitable rape joke London Fields is not a guy you d ever bring around most of your other friends, especially the hot female ones, or the highly moral ones who d stop talking to you for consorting with someone so clearly distasteful and, they d be sure, purely evil to boot.But you love this guy You really do Honestly you consider him one of your greatest friends London Fields isn t someone you d call for comfort during a 4am crisis, and you wouldn t talk about politics with him, or probably even about books, even though you both read You and London Fields talk about Love, and about Sex and Death You talk about The World You talk just to Talk You love London Fields even though he s an asshole you love London Fields, maybe, because he s an asshole, because secretly, deep down, you re an asshole too LF s sort of a bad friend, even, you know, sort of a bad guy He s That Guy, but you love him Because he s hilarious He s made a Manhattan spray out your nose before it hurt the things that he says are so hysterical Plus, even if he s always getting up and running out to the bathroom and therefore missing vast and crucial sections of the movie that s Reality, on certain vital points LF is absolutely dead on And, let s be honest here, he s got amazing style. He s got style like crazy, and sometimes that s all you care about And maybe most nights you get dinner with respectable people, with other social workers and teachers, who are honest and kind But that shit can get boring, and boring s what you can t stand There are better books out there than your friend London Fields. There are libraries full of them But there are not many books that are this much fucking fun. London Fields is a self conscious fin de mill naire novel that takes place in London as the world seems to be ending The story is a sort of inverted murder mystery following the intersection of four central characters Nicola Six, sexed out trainwreck femme fatale rushed direct via SST from Central Casting psychopathic pre chav era dart hooligan and anti villain Keith Talent moneyed nothingburger father and husband Guy Clinch and Samson Young, an ailing, unsuccessful writer from New York who s done an apartment swap and who narrates the action as everything unfolds The plot, such as it is, is mostly stupid, and really sort of beside the point Who cares Reading this book made me realize something, which is that the world is really ending it s ending all the time, all around us, just like in the book I do appreciate fiction that helps me figure out something useful like that, but really what I appreciate is being entertained Despite some obvious flaws, this book is FUN To me it was a page turner, and would be perfect reading for a transatlantic flight This is the first book I ve read by Martin Amis, and I ve heard that his stuff varies a lot, but based on this one I think of him as a sort of Sidney Sheldon figure for people who are pretty pretentious If that sounds good to you, I would say give it a go Well, I might say that But maybe I shouldn t I wouldn t recommend this to anyone who s easily offended And by easily offended I mean offended by sex, sexism, classism, violence, rape, child abuse, predictable and often lame plotting, stereotypes, sociopathy, gross humor, or pretty much anything else There are jokes in here about dog and babyfucking, for example, so if you don t find that sort of thing hilarious, you might stay away If you re not easily offended, though, and not too snobby, then you might love this book It really was a lotfun than I d expected it to be I d thought MA was better known for being smart than fun, but his priorities seemed the opposite And like all good fun, or funniness, it was very dark It was dark and did get at things that are Serious Concerns, but it did it right, not all ponderous, truly did stay a blast Every few pages there was a line that would actually make me emit a little scream of laughter, or else get dangerously depressed about not being able to come up with shit like that with my own feeble brain A book isn t good if it doesn t make you insanely jealous of its author at least part of the time There was stuff in here that made me want to hunt down Martin Amis and pry out portions of his brain with a screwdriver, for future grafting to my own somewhat sludgier, less linguistically and comically flexible organ.I d hang out with Martin again, if I ever find myself in a certain mood He s not the kind of guy you want to spend every waking moment with, but there are certain times when you re really glad you know someone like him Please don t get me wrong there was some dumb shit in this book, but I m not going to criticize it, because the thing was that I just didn t care The dumb shit didn t get in the way of my enjoying the book immensely So Martin can come on over, interrupt me, show off his vocabulary, smoke all my cigarettes, and tell me about the new 20 year old girlfriend and her 600 shoes I d be happy to have him, as long as no one else is around.Recommended With caveats, like all responsible recommendations


  3. Lisa Lisa says:

    Ha I did it.I finished London Fields, after a week or so on a roller coaster, up and down, loving it, hating it, being annoyed, bored, laughing out loud, bored again In the end, I actually caught myself crying as well, which was the last thing I expected, having worked up a genuine distaste for the book somewhere in the middle.I don t think I have ever read a book that I could easily give either one star or five stars, and feel perfectly justified to do so I rarely change my mind so completel Ha I did it.I finished London Fields, after a week or so on a roller coaster, up and down, loving it, hating it, being annoyed, bored, laughing out loud, bored again In the end, I actually caught myself crying as well, which was the last thing I expected, having worked up a genuine distaste for the book somewhere in the middle.I don t think I have ever read a book that I could easily give either one star or five stars, and feel perfectly justified to do so I rarely change my mind so completely several times over the course of 500 pages either.How to sum it up No clue The author as opposed to the narrator knows how stories are made, and he can write them He can create interesting, funny, sad, dangerous characters, and make the reader laugh out loud at the humour of his descriptions Yes He can do that But he can also spin a web of betrayal and deception, telling the story from different angles, over and over again, driving the same reader that just laughed out loud to the brink of insanity.So, it is a story of a murder Actually, since we know all the protagonists from the start, and know that the murder will occur in the last act, I would say rather than a crime novel, it is a wordy, rambling Greek tragedy As everyone knows the plot, the outcome and the story, the charm if there is such a thing lies in the psychological development of the characters The murderee takes on the role of guiding us through the different acts, and in a way we witness her suicide, as she thoroughly plans her murder herself Maybe she is the MURDERER as well, even though she is not the one actually holding the lethal weapon But she destroyed Keith, and Guy, and Sam, and the novel, so she certainly is the femme fatale of the story, in the most literal sense of the word.There is only one hero in the book I did not realise what a hero he was until his heart was broken by a weak man and he lost his herculean power and completely changed his character That s when I started crying The hero s name is Marmaduke The childhood of Hercules How am I going to rate this book As Martin Amis managed to quote my favourite poem from The Poems Of Wilfred Owen on the very last pages I am the enemy you killed, my friend , I can t give the book one star even though I was mad at it for at least 300 pages I can t give it five stars either, because that might make other people think I d recommend it I don t If you read it, it has to be on your own responsibility I only read it because I randomly decided this summer to read three books by authors I didn t know before which featured London in the title I did not like the first one I chose, The Lambs of London, and the jury in my head is still passing out on this one, so I amthan worried about the third in the chosen trio London Orbital, which I will start when I have recovered strength from this one.To be fair, this one is incredibly fascinating as a concept, and I AM happy that I read it and that it is over now I won t forget it And I knowabout the tactics of darts there are none , than I did before.Here s the sinus curve of my reading itinerary Starting to read Perfect first paragraph for a tired evening, after discarding any books looking remotely like intellectual struggle This is a true story but I can t believe it s really happening It s a murder story, too I can t believe my luck And a love story I think , of all strange things, so late in the century, so late in the goddamned day.This is the story of a murder It hasn t happened yet It had better page 6 I don t claim to make fast progress on this, but here we are, quote on page 6 He never had what it took to be a murderer, not on his own He needed his murderee This is a VERY weird perspective, even for trained Humanities teachers who teach different angles, and personal biases for a living page 34 If the author chooses a confusing narrator, the characters can t really be blamed for their strange appearance, right This feels like a wordy novel version of Sei personaggi in cerca d autore but the narrator, or author, admits to having been conned by the bad character 1 comment page 37 I feel like I might be reading this book backwards, as I make so slow progress I also vaguely suspect that I will start hating it soon, so I better write down some things I like before that As for the two pigs, they were yahoos even by the standards of the yard Pigs as yahoos What would the humans be then, in the universe of Gulliver s Travels Above or below on the class ladder page 41 The poor foil Guy must be totally lost in London, if it really is a pub pretending to be a city, for he has something I did not know existed, but that I think I have always known to exist anyway Lord, this book makes your brain spin he has PUB ANTICHARISMA Is there a cure Does it mean London is allergic to him Would it help if we gave London antihistamins page 86 I have discovered a major flaw in London Fields To enjoy the confusing story, you need a glass of dry Riesling However, if you have a glass of Riesling, you can t follow the confusing story any Why does this make me want to reread Catch 22 all of a sudden You might for example miss the fact that two consecutive chapters describe exactly the same situation, but from different characters point of view page 127 I take back the comment that the narrator does not know what he is doing In fact, he knows so well what he is doing that he is mingling with the murderer, murderee and foil BEFORE the murder has happened, in order to collect the materials for his murder story a priori In fact, he is a bit impatient and wants to start chapter 7 before it has actually happened I wonder if that makes London Fields a futuristic novel page 178 I am starting to worry about this novel The narrator needs one of the main characters to guide the story, and discusses cutting out other characters with her He is also seriously ill and has pressure from his publisher, who can t see how he is going to fill the middle of the novel I agree we all know the end, and the beginning was strong, but to go on for several hundred pages with silly cheats and darts Really page 180 And I don t like it when the book catches me being condescending Literally two pages after I complain about the darts storyline going on forever, I read this But don t you be snooty about the darts They matter in all this Well, we ll see about that Maybe it is not a good idea to update progress on London Fields I might be trapped in a fake plot Should just read the whole thing and do the Caesar thumb sign page 237 I am thoroughly annoyed with the work distribution in this novel by now the narrator has dumped the whole plot development on the murderee, who has to work incredibly hard to get the other characters to move towards some kind of climax, and the murder itself is threatened by the fact, revealed very late in the day, that KEITH IS NOT EVEN GOOD AT DARTS page 308 The murderee rocks She has decided to force the lazy narrator, murderer and foil to move forwards with the plot Very much appreciated by the suffering reader The fact that almost all scenes are retold several times from different perspectives to show EVERY POSSIBLE angle of the not yet existing murder story made me want to scream for about 100 pages Now I am back where I started I suspect a shadow of genius page 400 The world according to Keith, or maybe The Dart Gospel According To Keith The trouble with darts they are no good when you are pist sic That is a catch 22 if there ever was one Things undoubtedly speed up a bit, thanks to the heroine who can t wait to get murdered As a means to achieve her goal, she is now involved with everyone, playing all the available parts at the same time virgin, whore After this, I stopped updating, because the final act was such a whirlwind of emotions


  4. ☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~ ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣ ☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~ ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣ says:

    A mumbo jumbo of words trying desperately to congeal into a plot And failing at it, miserably A case of when the book is way worse than the bad film I have a feeling that some promiscuos dictionary had a love affair with the Holy Bible and a bunch of pop sci lit and quite a bit of erotica and this is their collective offspring It should come with a warning Careful Words hijacked this book The style is ridiculous Pompous and sleep inducing An example of what I mean by this there is a pie A mumbo jumbo of words trying desperately to congeal into a plot And failing at it, miserably A case of when the book is way worse than the bad film I have a feeling that some promiscuos dictionary had a love affair with the Holy Bible and a bunch of pop sci lit and quite a bit of erotica and this is their collective offspring It should come with a warning Careful Words hijacked this book The style is ridiculous Pompous and sleep inducing An example of what I mean by this there is a piece where in the space of just one page the author discusses femininity briefly, then switches the topic to black holes, then to a bunch of escape velocities, and right after that progresses to a discourse on sodomy and masturbation and just how sodomy pains and solaces Nicola I sort of liked that one, actually, even though it s basically disjointed ramblings Black holes and sodomy, I get it, of course, I just don t think all this teenage wanking deserves being in a book I m reading and all the gross overthinking This whole novel is like that, labirintine, and the result is striking, all right, but not in the best way.All the objectification of the female, it s all pretty much just literary pin up Mentally, I m going to refer to this one as the dirty toilet bowl novel , due to a half page devoted to this subject of utmost importance.Q But I am trying to ignore the world situation I am hoping it will go away Not the world The situation I want time to get on with this little piece of harmless escapism I want time to go to London Fields c Q Happiness writes white it doesn t show up on the page c Koan Q Cherished and valued alike by the critical establishment, the media, and the world of academe, Mark Asprey has honorary degrees, pasteboard hats, three separate gowns from Oxford, Cambridge, Trinity College Dublin I must look at his books, of which there are a great many, in a great many editions, in a great many languages Hungarian Japanese c Q On this green patch, rather regrettably, rather disappointingly how come Asprey stands for it , there is also a garbage tip nothing outrageous, no compost or bathtubs or abandoned pantechnicons, just selected refuse, magazines, old toys, a running shoe, a kettle c What is this about, really Q Then the sound of what I can only describe as intense mutual difficulty c Quite a way to describe sex.Q In fact I ve had to watch it with my characters ages I thought Guy Clinch was about twenty seven He is thirty five I thought Keith Talent was about forty two He is twenty nine I thought Nicola SixNo, I always knew what she was Nicola Six is thirty four I fear for them, my youngers.And meanwhile time goes about its immemorial work of making everyone look and feel like shit You got that And meanwhile time goes about its immemorial work of making everyone look, and feel, like shit c Q Sitting in the car on the Friday afternoon, after the heavy lunch, as they dragged through Swiss Cottage to the motorway, or through the curling systems of Clapham and Brixton and beyond where London seems unwilling ever to relinquish the land, wants to squat on those fields right up to the rocks and the cliffs and the water , Nicola would feel a pressure in those best panties of hers, as it were the opposite of sex, like the stirring of a new hymen being pinkly formed By the time they reached Totteridge or Tooting, Nicola was a virgin again With what perplexity would she turn to the voluble disappointment, the babbling mistake, at her side with his hands on the wheel After a glimpse of the trees in the dusk, a church, a dumbfounded sheep, Nicola would drink little at the hotel or the borrowed cottage and would sleep inviolate with her hands crossed over her heart like a saint Sulky in slumber, the man of the moment would nevertheless awake to find that practically half his entire torso was inside Nicola s mouth and Saturday lunchtime was always a debauch on every front She hardly ever made it to Sunday c Now, that s some unhealthy sexual imagery.Q But let us be clear about this she had great powers great powers All women whose faces and bodiesor less neatly fill the contemporary mould have some notion of these privileges and magics During their pomp and optimum, however brief and relative, they occupy the erotic centre Some feel lost, some surrounded or crowded, but there they are, in a China sized woodland of teak hard worship And with Nicola Six the gender yearning was translated, was fantastically heightened it came at her in the form of human love She had the power of inspiring love, almost anywhere Forget about making strong men weep Seven stone pacifists shouldered their way through street riots to be home in case she called Family men abandoned sick children to wait in the rain outside her flat Semi literate builders and bankers sent her sonnet sequences She pauperized gigolos, she spayed studs, she hospitalized heartbreakers They were never the same again, they lost their heads And the thing with her what was it with her , the thing with her was that she had to receive this love and send it back in opposite form, not just cancelled but murdered Character is destiny and Nicola knew where her destiny lay c Hmmm One might choose to tag it a bit differently.Q Two extra specialists were present One was peering between Hope s legs, saying, Yes, well it s rather hard to tell what goes where c Q The happiest time of Guy s fifteen year marriage had come during Hope s pregnancy, a relatively recent interlude She had taken her fifty per cent cut in IQ with good grace, and for a while Guy had found himself dealing with an intellectual equal Suddenly the talk was of home improvement, of babies names, nursery conversions, girlish pinks, boyish blues the tender materialism, all with a point Never entirely free of builders, the house now thronged with them, shouting, swearing, staggering Guy and Hope lived to hormone time The curtain hormone, the carpet hormone Her nausea passed She craved mashed potato Then the nesting hormone an abrupt passion for patching, for needle and thread c 50% what That s quite an urban legend going with the author.Q When Nicola was good she was very very good But when she was badAbout her parents she had no feelings one way or the other this was her silent, inner secret They both died, anyway, together, as she had always known they would c Q Nicola s knack of reading the future left her with one or two firm assurances that no one would ever love her enough, and those that did were not worth being loved enough by The typical Nicola romance would end, near the doorway of her attic flat, with the man of the moment sprinting down the passage, his trousers round his knees, a ripped jacket thrown over his ripped shirt, and hotly followed by Nicola herself now in a nightdress, now in underwear, now naked beneath a half furled towel , either to speed him on his way with a blood libel and a skilfully hurled ashtray, or else to win back his love, by apologies, by caresses, or by main force In any event the man of the moment invariably kept going Often she would fly right out into the street On several occasions she had taken a brick to the waiting car On severalshe had lain down in front of it All this changed nothing, of course The car would always leave at the highest speed of which it was mechanically capable, though sometimes, admittedly, in reverse Nicola s men, and their escape velocitiesc Her interpersonal skills must have seriously sucked Q There was always a lot of shouting and fistfighting to do before bedtime c Q It was fixed It was written The murderer was not yet a murderer.But the murderee had always been a murderee c Q This was always the way with Nicola srecent jobs, of which there had, for a while, been a fair number She did the job, and then, after an escalating and finally overlapping series of late mornings, four hour lunches, and early departures, she was considered to have let everyone down she wasn t there ever , and stopped going in Nicola always knew when this moment had come, and chose that day to stop going in The fact that Nicola knew things would end that way lent great tension to each job she took, right from the first week, the first day, the first morning In thedistant past she had worked as a publisher s reader, a cocktail waitress, a telephonist, a croupier, a tourist operative, a model, a librarian, a kissogram girl, an archivist, and an actress But then the acting bit of her lost its moorings and drifted out into real life c Q Her mouth was full, and unusually wide Her mother had always said it was a whore s mouth Her eyes changed colour readily, eagerly, in different lights, but their firm state was a vehement green She had this idea about the death of love c Q Nicola Six, looking and sounding very very good, explained to various interested parties who she was and what she was doing there c Looking and sounding very good Q Prettily Nicola said her goodbyes to him and his family, extending a gloved hand and receiving their thanks and praise for her attendance c Q Indeed, it would be a bad day and that day would never come when she entered a men s room, a teeming toilet such as this and turned no heads, caused no groans or whispers She walked straight to the bar, lifted her veil with both hands, like a bride, surveyed the main actors of the scene, and immediately she knew, with pain, with gravid arrest, with intense recognition, that she had found him, her murderer.When at last she returned to the flat Nicola laid out her diaries on the round table She made an entry, unusually crisp and detailed the final entry The notebooks she used were Italian, their covers embellished with Latin script Now they had served their purpose and she wonderedhow to dispose of them The story wasn t over, but the life was She stacked the books and reached for a ribbon Tve found him On the Portobello Road, in a place called the Black Cross, I found him I think it was Montherlant who said that happiness writes white it doesn t show up on the page We all know this The letter with the foreign postmark that tells of good weather, pleasant food and comfortable accommodation isn t nearly as much fun to read, or to write, as the letter that tells of rotting chalets, dysentery and drizzle c Q That light came from the elemental feminine power propagation If Nicola had had that light her power might have approached the infinite But she didn t have it, and never would have it With her, light went the other way The black hole, so long predicted in theory, was now, to Nicola s glee, established astronomical fact Cygnus X 1 It was a binary system the black hole was orbiting a star thirty times the mass of our sun The black hole weighed in at ten solar masses, but was no wider than London, It was nothing it was just a hole it had dropped out of space and time it had collapsed into its own universe Its very nature prevented anyone from knowing what it was unapproachable, unilluminable Nothing is fast enough to escape from it For mother earth the escape velocity is seven miles per second, for Jupiter thirty seven miles per second, for the sun 383 miles per second For Sirius B, the first white dwarf they found, the escape velocity is 4,900 miles per second But for Cygnus X1, the black swan, there is no escape velocity Even light, which propagates at 186,287 miles per second, cannot escape from it That s what I am, she used to whisper to herself after sex A black hole Nothing can escape from me Sodomy pained Nicola, but not literally it was its local prevalence, as it were, that pained her so greatly It was the only thing about herself that she couldn t understand and wouldn t forgive How generally prevalent was it and an unwonted humiliation, this, to seek safety in numbers It wasn t like masturbation, which everyone secretly knew everyone secretly did, apart from the odd fanatic or ostrich or liar Masturbation was an open secret until you were thirty Then it was a closed secret Even modern literature shut up about it at that point, pretty much Nicola held this silence partly responsible for the industrial dimensions of contemporary pornography pornography, a form in which masturbation was the only subject Everybody masturbated all their lives On the whole, literature declined the responsibility of this truth So pornography had to cope with it Not elegantly or reassuringly As best it could When you came to sodomyInstinct declared that nowhere near everybody did it, but one could harbour one s suspicions here too Nicola remembered reading, with a blush of pleasure, that fully seventy five per cent of female v male divorce suits featured sodomy under one subhead or another, anything from physical cruelty to unreasonable demands How unreasonable was it How cruel What did it mean when a woman wanted it The tempting location, so close to its better sisterBut wherever it was in the armpit, behind the kneecap , it would have its attractions Be literal, and look at the human mouth The mouth was a good distance away And the mouth got it too.Literature did go on about sodomy, and increasingly This hugely solaced Nicola Six c Q The only other compensation was an artistic one At least it was congruous with her larger tribulation at least sodomy added up Most types have their opposite numbers Groups have groupies There are molls for all men, and vice versa The professional has his perkie scowlers get scowlies so smuggles, loudies, cruellies So the failed suicide must find a murderer So the murderer must find a murderee c Q Nicola was amazed Nicola was consternated by how few women really understood about underwear It was a scandal If the effortless enslavement of men was the idea, or one of the ideas and who had a better idea , why halve your chances by something as trivial as a poor shopping decision c So much objectification.Q In her travels Nicola had often sat in shared bedrooms and cabins and boudoirs and powder parlours, and watched debutantes, predatory divorcees, young hostesses, even reasonably successful good time girls shimmying out of their cocktail dresses and ballgowns to reveal some bunched nightmare of bloomers, tights, long Johns, Yfronts A prosperous hooker whom she had hung out with for a while in Milan invariably wore panties that reminded Nicola, in both texture and hue, of a bunion pad To ephemeral flatmates and sexual wallflowers at houseparties and to other under equipped rivals Nicola had sometimes carelessly slipped the underwear knowledge It took about ten seconds Six months later the ones that got it right would be living in their own mews houses in Pimlico and looking fifteen years younger But they mostly got it wrong c Endless misogynyQ Or look at it the other way Nicola Six, considerably inconvenienced, is up there in her flying saucer, approaching the event horizon No, it doesn t work out It doesn t work out because she s already there on the other side All her life she s lived on the other side of the event horizon, treading gravity in slowing time She s it She s the naked singularity She s beyond the black hole Every fifteen minutes the telephone rings c WTFQ It solaced the old to see such piety in the relatively young She reviewed the company with eyes of premonitory inquiry, and with small inner shrugs of disappointment Keith s tone was mawkishly pally, seeming to offer the commiserations due to a shared burden Here was a room, here was a set that had experienced a lot of nakedness, a lot of secretions and ablutions and reflections c Beware A drunk dictionary barfed all over this book.Q You don t need much empathic talent to tell what Keith s thinking He doesn t do that much thinking in the first place c Unkind.Q Nicola raised her eyes to heaven at the thought of what this would involve her in sexually And in earnest truth she had always felt that love in some form would be present at her death c How original.Q Babies, infants, little human beings they re a skirt thing The only blokes who love babies are transvestites, hormone cases, sex maniacs c Outright nastyQ Keith went at the ironing board like the man in the deckchair joke The tube of the hoover became a maddened python in his grasp After his final misadventure with the coffeegrinder plug and the screwdriver Nicola handed him a paper tissue for his gouged thumb and said in a puzzled voice, But you re completely hopeless Or is it just being drunk c Q It could be the fuse Yeah Could be Change it, Chipping a yellow fingernail, swearing, dropping screws, confusing fuses, Keith accomplished this deed He then slapped the plug into the wall, pressed the switch, and briskly actuated the coffee grinder Nothing happened Well, said Keith after a while It s not the fuse Then could you take a look at the lavatory seat at least c So Very Logical Q People are chaotic quiddities living in one cave each They pass the hours in amorous grudge and playback and thought experiment At the campfire they put the usual fraction on exhibit, and listen to their own silent gibber about how they re feeling and how they re going down We ve been there c Q Death helps Death gives us something to do Because it s a fulltime job looking the other way c Q The weather has a new number, or better say a new angle And I don t mean dead clouds Apparently it will stay like this for quite a while for the duration, in any event It s not a good one It will just make everything worse It s not a wise one The weather really shouldn t be doing this c Yes Advice for the weather, how sophisticated Q He frowned She laughed He brightened She pouted He grinned She flinched Come on we don t do that Except when we re pretending Only babies frown and flinch The rest of us just fakewith our fake faces.He grinned No he didn t If a guy grins at you for real these days, you d better chop his head off before he chops off yours Soon the sneeze and the yawn will be mostly for show Even the twitch.She laughed No she didn t We laugh about twice a year Most of us have lost our laughs and now make do with false ones.He smiled.Not quite true All that no good to think, no good to say, no good to write All that no good to write c Yep And it applies to this whole novel.Q Wobbly toilet, Keith said to her in a gurgling voice Can t have that Might do yourself an injury Might ruin your married life Nicola stared at him There was perhaps an infinitesimal swelling in the orbits of her eyes Several replies offered themselves to her with urgency, like schoolboys raising their hands to please the pretty teacher One was Get out of here, you unbelievable lout another, remarkably and this would be delivered in a dull monotone , was Do you like dirty sex, Keith But she stayed silent Who cared There wasn t going to be any married life c Inane.Q She turned, and bent forward, and reached up into her dress with both thumbs Use these We ll put them on your head until you need them You can watch through the legholes Might look rather comic on anyone but you, Keith c Yes, this our sexbomb of a clairvoyant offering her panties to be used as a frilly gasmask


  5. Jeff Jeff says:

    Back before Goodreads and the interwebz, most discussions of pop culture, for me, usually took place in bars After work Late Half sober Some sample conversational starters topics What was Marlon Brando s best performance Does it involve butter Why does Pon Farr take seven years Does this mean the Vulcan s don t have porn Who was the greatest left handed pitcher of the seventies What do you mean there s another version of Blade Runner How drunk is Tom Waits drunk Why can t we meet women Back before Goodreads and the interwebz, most discussions of pop culture, for me, usually took place in bars After work Late Half sober Some sample conversational starters topics What was Marlon Brando s best performance Does it involve butter Why does Pon Farr take seven years Does this mean the Vulcan s don t have porn Who was the greatest left handed pitcher of the seventies What do you mean there s another version of Blade Runner How drunk is Tom Waits drunk Why can t we meet women This one, was of course, rhetorical.It was a group of guys, usually about six or seven of us oddly, there were two brothers, about a year apart one had a Brooklyn accent, one had a British accent I don t remember the whole Dickensian saga about why this was so, it was just, well, odd.We were talking about Kingsley Amis and Lucky Jim, probably because it was funny and involved drinking and bad behavior, when the Brit brother mentioned that Kingsley had a son, Martin, who wrote a book called, Dead Babies and that it was terrific.It was pretty good And so was his book, Money Fast forward about a million years later and now, this one.Amis is an uber writer, who cramswit and ideas into a single paragraph than a lot of writers can churn out in a lifetime Although some critics have tried to tag this as sci fi end of the world, they d be missing the point The crisis is mere background window dressing to one of theassiduously crafted character studies I ve read in quite a while it doesn t matter that the world is going to hell in a hand basket the baser elements of human nature still shine on Which is a good thing.The story revolves around Nicola Six, she s the planet Venus, around which the lesser moons of Guy Clinch and Keith Talent erratically revolve She has the ability of predestination and can predict her own murder She manipulates these two stooges into making it happen.Clinch is the very model of the upper class stuffed shirt twit, who s systematically bilked and painfully led around by his little Guy Talent is a small time, dim witted hood who s adrift in anything beyond darts Darts, innit and his seamy world.Throw in an unreliable narrator and author of the story, Samson Young, and you have the makings of corrosively entertaining read.Favorite character The baby from Hell Marmaduke For starters, French kissing the nanny and trying to bite her tongue This book isn t a casual read, but it will be well worth the time a reader will invest in it


  6. Paul Bryant Paul Bryant says:

    THE BRITISH CLASS SYSTEMAt the top there is the Monarchy and the aristocracy They re all still there, no one has gone away The 14th Duke of Banffshire and all the scurvy crew The only good news is they re not allowed to hunt foxes anyYay one and a half cheers for democracy So that s the Upper Class.Next step down is the complicated Middle Class which is divided into three Upper middle these are your professions, of course Judges, lawyers, bankers, etc There was a radio inter THE BRITISH CLASS SYSTEMAt the top there is the Monarchy and the aristocracy They re all still there, no one has gone away The 14th Duke of Banffshire and all the scurvy crew The only good news is they re not allowed to hunt foxes anyYay one and a half cheers for democracy So that s the Upper Class.Next step down is the complicated Middle Class which is divided into three Upper middle these are your professions, of course Judges, lawyers, bankers, etc There was a radio interview I heard recently, with a Member of Parliament He was talking anonymously about the need to increase MPs pay The trouble is, you can t talk about MPs pay in public because the public hate us, and think we are paid a lot But really, he said, you don t want Members of Parliament who think that 65,000 104,000 is a lot of money Well, of course you don t So that s me out The upper middle class are toffs and go to public private schools They re all in the Tory party except a few who thought they d take over the Labour Party too The middle middle class is people with careers The women in the middle middle go crazy trying to have it all without the nannies that the upper middle get automatically The lower middle are teachers and librarians and policemen and other lowly types who just do a job, it couldn t be called a career It s the middle middles who have careers There s an annoying political cliche constantly used here which is the squeezed middle Here they are, in the middle Next step down is the Working Class ah, let s celebrate working class values, like getting drunk and and abusing people and playing darts and hating foreigners A reference to London Fields This class is divided into two The Respectable Working Class These have got jobs and get up at ungodly hours to go to them, even when it s really cold They all love sport and telly but they don t go to the pub so much anyPubs are closing right left and centre They all go to Spain for their summer holiday They have such a laugh.The Unrespectable Working Class, also known as The Underclass Oh what problem they are They don t have jobs They could if they wanted to, but they don t want to, thangyewveryfookinmuch So all the immigrants from Eastern Europe do those jobs the worst jobs They like to take giant amounts of drugs and sling mattresses into the front yard They wheel and deal and commit wholesale benefit fraud They are our trailer trash, except they don t live in trailers They don t have families They have weird accidental tribal aggregations so in one house there will be a woman, her step dad, his girlfriend, that girlfriend s kids, three of the actual woman s kids, the others being in care, an occasional boyfriend, two half brothers, their girlfriends, you get the picture.Now, this is the British class system, but I think it is very similar everywhere you go, with the exception of the Upper Class Most countries sliced off the heads of their aristocracy in a rush of joyful democratic emotion some centuries ago So, my problem with London Fields, which was exactly the same problem as I had with White Teeth, which I also gave up, even though both novels are very well written, is that I don t like what happens when upper middle class writers write about working class characters They write about them as comedy They can t help it It s always comedy Often very black comedy, as here To upper middle class writers, the working class is always funny Postscript they tell me class mobility has practically ground to a halt in the last decade, and I can believe it It was always impossible to ascend to the Upper Class, you had to shoe King Henry II s horse in 1311 or something You can rise up the middle class if you re mighty smart and ambitious And you can go to university and lurch from the respectable working class to the lower middle class, as I did That s about it


  7. mark monday mark monday says:

    Many thanks to this review for providing the inspirationGosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh I haven t read a book this good in really, really long time.And we re not talking about o Many thanks to this review for providing the inspirationGosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh Gosh I haven t read a book this good in really, really long time.And we re not talking about oh I can t wait to get home so I can read this good.We re talking about walking upstairs in my robot suit good COMMAND MUST READ BOOK Out of every book I ve read this month shit, maybe even the YEAR this book comes along and showed me that Amis still thinks all human beings are maggots burrowing in a rotten piece of meat Normally I would be gagging while thinking about these characters But they are living in such a dense and beautifully crafted novel, one so rich in detail and incident, overstuffed with gorgeous and intense prose, so full of evil wit and fascinating experiments with language and form and perspective I just had to sit back and realize that I was loving this misanthropic, dehumanizing, scabrously vicious death farce It s a hearty and heavily spiced meal I had to put away my dismay and just embrace the callous cruelty and sadistic savagery the sheer villainy of it all Amis is a bonafide genius.And I loved his maggot sandwich That rotten piece of meat is our very own earth said the maggot sandwich And I did A story about a girl with innocent eyes who meets the boy with a savage grin and wicked hands and the other boy with the pasty complexion and the boner that never goes away.OUR HEROINE NICOLA SIX Nicola was looking out, at the window, at the world Her slender throat tautened, and her eyes filled with indignation or simple self belief She had about her then the thing of hers that touched me most as if she were surrounded, on every side, by tiny multitudes of clever enemies. OUR HERO GUY CLINCH Guy nodded and sipped, and sipped, and nodded His palate, his tutored papillae, continued to savour the fruit, the flowers, the full body stout, plummy, barrelly, tart of the examined life, the life of thought and feeling so languidly combined He was rich in understanding He was also, by now, a rather poorly paramour a sick man, in fact, and thoroughly distempered. OUR HERO KEITH TALENT He climbed up her body until she felt the scrawny sharpness of his knees on her shoulders Shut your eyes and open your mouth all kinds of terrible little creations out there, tendrilled, dumbbelled, gravity warped or like a preparation for the crazy scientist s microscope, disgraceful cultures in compound opposition, the ambitious maggot with its antennae rolling like radar sweeps, the gangly moth briefly clearing the decks with its continental wing frenzy, the no account midges, the haunch ants and grimly ambling spiders, the occasional innocuous white butterfly fainting away from the glass, all of them seeking the atomic brightness, the nuclear sun of the lamp s bulb And all the wrong things prosperIt s happeningOh And uhh to you authors whose books I plan on reading after this one They better be maggot sandwiches


  8. Warwick Warwick says:

    London Fields is a book with a plot so pointless it made me angry, and a cast of blatant stereotypes It s distinguished by some flourishes of wonderful writing, and the presence of one character who is one of my favourite creations of modern British fiction.Initially, there is plenty to like The narrator a failed American writer on a house swap in London has an engaging line in self doubt, a brooding sense of millennial disaster, and a neat turn of phrase The traffic clogged, grimy street London Fields is a book with a plot so pointless it made me angry, and a cast of blatant stereotypes It s distinguished by some flourishes of wonderful writing, and the presence of one character who is one of my favourite creations of modern British fiction.Initially, there is plenty to like The narrator a failed American writer on a house swap in London has an engaging line in self doubt, a brooding sense of millennial disaster, and a neat turn of phrase The traffic clogged, grimy streets of London, its monotonous weather and its sweaty pubs, are perfectly evoked and give the whole novel a very effective tone of edginess, latent violence, and even what comes to feel like looming apocalypse The plot focuses on a girl with the delightful name of Nicola Six, who, thanks to a kind of second sight, knows that she will be murdered on the night of her thirty fifth birthday she also knows who will do it, and, in many ways, she positively wants it to happen.The narrator has been asked by Nicola to tell her story and he throws himself into it with gusto, developing close relationships with her and with the putative murderer, Keith Talent, and the foil, Guy Clinch Keith, a petty criminal and amateur darts player, is a fantastic and original character, and the book lifts to a higher level every time he s on the page With his chain smoking, his string of girlfriends, the long suffering wife, and his general lager and sports demeanour, he can seem a bit of a type But there s something so pleasurable about how perfectly Amis has skewered the type that it doesn t seem like a problem His dialogue in particular is a joy, noso than when he and his friends are discussing darts, in an endless stream of pundit s clich sYou can t argue with finishing of that quality No way It was a stern test, said Thelonius deliberately, of your darting character Bogdan said, You responded to the to the big match atmosphere The choice of venue could have posed problems to a lesser player, said Dean You fended off the You disposed of the Challenge of the Brixton left hander, said Thelonius with a sigh.It is theimpressive that Amis does not allow you to regard Keith simply as comic relief he is also behind most of the disgust and anger that the reader feels He s a nasty piece of work a wife beater, pornographer, and statutary rapist who makes regular trips to a fifteen year old prostitute.Perhaps this is the first clue to a pervasive hatred that underlies much of Amis s writing It shows itself in a constant low level intolerance, sometimes in the form of bizarrely xenophobic outbreaks about the blacks silent with unreadable hungers , and on one occasion the comment that black people are better at fighting than white people, because, among other reasons, they all do it How much of this is Amis and how much his narrator is, of course, difficult to say.It all crystallises in the character of Nicola I found her really the most pitiful example of what literary theorists like to call the male gaze that I ve ever come across Young, beautiful, sexually irresistible, she is described in long voyeuristic and faintly implausible passages in which she evaluates herself as a sex object she stood naked in the middle of the warm room Her mouth was full, and unusually wide Her mother had always said it was a whore s mouth It seemed to have an extra half inch at either wing, like the mouth of the clowngirl in pornography.Nicola prowls about this novel like a embarrassing fantasy of Amis s, endlessly peeling off pairs of stockings, mulling over what kind of underwear to put on, having long contemplative baths, or thinking about masturbation And by the way, Martin, you can t just get out of it by including an exchange like this oneI m worried they re going to say you re a male fantasy figure I am a male fantasy figure You should see me in bed I do all the gimmicks men read up on in the magazines and the hot books Ah yes the sex Nicola, you are unsurprised to learn at this point, is a bit of a goer And wouldn t you know it, what she particularly likes is to take it up the arse Sodomy pained Nicola, but not literally it was its local prevalence, as it were, that pained her so greatly It was the only thing about herself that she couldn t understand and wouldn t forgive No, not everybody did it But Nicola did it At a certain point and she always vowed she wouldn t, and always knew she would Nicola tended to redirect her lover s thrusts, down there in the binary system I m not saying that no women are like this I m just saying that Martin Amis offers the least convincing portrait of one that I ve ever seen The sex, and the dark sexual secrets, are just one aspect of what starts to seem like a frightened fascination with women in general When Nicola is sure of something, she feels it in her tits We follow her into the toilet whole scenes revolve around her urinating, menstruating, or in some other way secreting something which makes Martin Amis uncomfortable And when she appeared at the top of the stairs the white dressing gown, the hair aslant over the unpainted face I fielded the brutal thought that she d just had fifteen lovers all at once, or fifteen periods.What does this seem like, if not fear and ignorance It s a big problem, because Nicola is so pivotal to the plot and such a central character in the book For the novel to work, you have to accept her, and understand her that she wants to die, that she is spending so much time deliberately facilitating her own murder But why There is no real reason offered except for a general apocalyptic atmosphere and a few melancholy comments about how she feels that she s come to the end of men It s not enough.There is a playful twist at the end, and a sort of satisfaction in how things are resolved But I was left with a lasting irritation at how flimsy the plot was, which got in the way of my enjoyment at Keith and some of Amis s elegant sentences Thinking back now, I still remember some wonderful passages But I also still feel annoyed at how ridiculous Nicola was The whole novel had the disconcerting air of being a great book, written by a twat


  9. Manny Manny says:

    This book just has it all Um That s not very specific I suppose I d better say what it is Well off the top of my head an engaging femme fatale, an equally engaging anti hero Keith Talent is an asshole s asshole a dangerous baby, psychic powers, explicit descriptions of sex and competitive darts though not both at the same time , references to nuclear and climate related apocalypses, witty and stylish writing Pause for breath I know I m missing a bunch of things A plot An endin This book just has it all Um That s not very specific I suppose I d better say what it is Well off the top of my head an engaging femme fatale, an equally engaging anti hero Keith Talent is an asshole s asshole a dangerous baby, psychic powers, explicit descriptions of sex and competitive darts though not both at the same time , references to nuclear and climate related apocalypses, witty and stylish writing Pause for breath I know I m missing a bunch of things A plot An ending There s definitely a sort of plot, and a sort of ending, but those aren t among the bigger items I missed Anyway, if you like Martin Amis s other books, you ll probably like this one too If you don t like his other books, stay well clear, but I m sure you got that already And if you ve never read any Martin Amis, start with Money, which is similar but better, and then come back when you ve finished.Oh, and it s far, FAR superior to Yellow Dog No reasonable person would dispute that


  10. Maciek Maciek says:

    First published in 1989, London Fields is now often considered to be Martin Amis s magnum opus The New York Times described it as a virtuoso depiction of a wild and lustful society and a large book of comic and satirical invention , which succeeds as a picaresque novel rich in its effects The Guardian was a little less positive, and called the book a cheat A con trick , writing that from start to finish, all 470 pages of it, it s an elaborate tease But the paper couldn t brush it off First published in 1989, London Fields is now often considered to be Martin Amis s magnum opus The New York Times described it as a virtuoso depiction of a wild and lustful society and a large book of comic and satirical invention , which succeeds as a picaresque novel rich in its effects The Guardian was a little less positive, and called the book a cheat A con trick , writing that from start to finish, all 470 pages of it, it s an elaborate tease But the paper couldn t brush it off completely, and after accounting for all the perceived flaws and failures concluded that it was nonetheless a powerful book Two different papers on two different continents had two different reactions, but somehow arrived at similar conclusions that the book was something and made an impact on those who read it Amis always seemed to getcrap in his home country this particular book was infamously omitted from the Booker Prize shortlist two female judges objected to his treatment of female characters Amis has still to win a Booker but probably never will But what exactly is this something London Fields, as described by The Guardian, is a con trick It s an elaborate set up by the characters against other characters, and by the author against the reader The plot is kind of flimsy at best a woman wants to commit suicide by having another man murder her but instead of writing an ordinary reversed mystery, Amis constructs an elaborate play on authority in narration, taking place on several different stages and forcing the reader to question who is really in control here The novel opens with the narrator, Samson Young, moving from New York to London, and swapping apartments with a renowned author, Mark Asprey M.A get it Young s name is an oxymoron, as is dying from cancer and he is a writer without success, especially when compared to Asprey Asprey never appears in the book in person but remains a presence in the background, with references by Young made to his successful and lavish lifestyle Samson is obviously biased here but also provides information about Asprey having a pseudonym, under which he publishes an unreliable memoir of his life filled with false claims Do we believe him Samson has a problem he cannot create He s not imaginative and brave enough to invent people and events, and can only act as a scribe someone who writes down what other people do When he stumbles by accident upon the diaries of a woman known as Nicola Six, he realizes that it is his final chance the story has quite literally fallen into his hands Nicola is bored with life and afraid of aging, and wants to orchestrate her own murder and Samson knows that he only has to observe everything and write it all down to later sell it as a work of fiction The novel is presented as the text that Samson is writing with each chapter written by him being followed with another chapter featuring his commentary Samson comes in contact with all three characters, and also acts as a manipulator dropping hints and directions to each of them, influencing the story, not only just writing it but starting to create it as well.Keith Talent and Guy Clinch are Nicola s victims I m tempted to call it another oxymoron, since they re being manipulated and used by her for her own goal but that goal is her own demise Are Keith and Guy victims since they re being deceived, or are they re victimizers because they both think that they re getting their way with Nicola and act accordingly to their own desires is Nicola the victimizer and predator She presents a different persona for each men, using her sexuality in two different ways she acts lavishly towards Keith s sexual desire, recording explicit videos to fuel his pornography addiction, and pretends to be a frightened virgin in love with Guy, complete with a sad story of growing up in an orphanage and searching for a missing friend Or is Nicola a victim of her own failed self and also of the modern consumerist society which might be responsible for her fear of aging Keith Talent and Guy Clinch are two opposites Keith Talent is described by Samson as a bad guy , is a hooligan and thief who commits petty crimes and frauds, and also is an aficionado of the game of darts His name is an oxymoron as well, as Samson at one point notes that he just doesn t have the talent Guy Clinch s name is also a double oxymoron he is easily one of the least manly men in fiction, and he certainly doesn t clinch, pretending to avoid any conflict especially with his wife by going away And then there s Samson will his life be like the one of his biblical counterpart, and trust a woman who then will turn against him And if so, will he have his one final moment before his death where he will destroy everything around him, burying everybody with himself There s an aura of doom surrounding everything in this book It was published in 1989, when the Cold War was nearing its end but the threat of a nuclear holocaust was still very real to many people Amis himself despises nuclear weapons and has written a collection of stories on the subject just two years earlier, which he titled Einstein s Monsters London Fields doesn t take place in 1989, but in 1999 although the specific date is never explicitly stated, the word millennium appears a number of times and in an interview Amis admitted to fastforwarding the story to 1999 he said that it was his novel for the century although there are some things specific for 89 one character takes a trip to Yugoslavia which still exists not a good idea in the late 80 s early 90 s, with the rise of ethnic and nationalists tensions which would result in the country being torn apart in a series of wars and is advised not to visit the COMECON countries which was the old communist block in eastern Europe London Fields is not a real place, as London is the world s famous urban megalopolis but could it be a vision of the City after the seemingly inescapable destruction hits it and leaves all its glitter and gold buried deep in the dust, everything razed down to a surface of a flat field Or maybe it is a longing of a place where Samuel claims to have played as a child, London Fields, and to which he wants to return before his death, but which might exist only in his imagination If this is his novel for the end of century, then it is very near The End It s very grim The first edition of the book had a cover with a giant red moon looming ominously over a series of lit streets There are mentions of The Crisis which is approaching implied to be a nuclear war and which could literally change the planet s axis and throw it out of orbit, as the world spins out of control Society is degraded and has fallen very low Amis s England is a foul and dirty one, and his City is full of dirty streets, seedy riff raffs and questionable characters roaming about The gentle, pastoral England with its high and civilized society is not to be found in his work s the dirty and bleak streets are filled with vandals, drunks and thugs, for whom they are the bedroom, the living room and the bathroom is it a commentary on Margaret Thatcher s who was still the PM at the time of publication disastrous social policies which put people on these streets, or the society she advocated where each individual lives for only for themselves and the things they can get Amis has come under fire for exploiting the working class and portraying it in his characters with deliberate dehumanization, as stereotyped caricatures either vicious or ridiculous, and often both, capable only of cynism Notice how it didn t bother the NY Times which praised the book for its virtuosity in describing a wild and lustful society and creating a large and satirical picaresque narrative But it s an American paper, so it s not their working class who s supposedly being snubbed, so whatever Here Amis can hide behind postmodernism, and its notions of conflating popular art with high culture and purposeful exaggeration and caricaturization is that even a word It is now of characters and events until everything falls down on itself and involutes The novel is prefaced by a letter from an M.A who ponders on its title is it Amis or Asprey Appleby Whose father is the novel dedicated to And who s then doing the stereotyping Martin Amis or Samson Young, the dying and bitter American It s a good book and it s a bad book, it s infuriating and it s exciting, it s boring and it s page turning I thought that it almost overdid it with its range of ambiguity basically every character is not only unlikable, but unreliable but also with how it makes you feel it rustles the fibers of your moral system by showing you repulsive people doing ugly things but at the same time it s so well done it takes your attention and keeps it all the way through It has this very voyeuristic aura about it which of course is part of the charm, but also part of the problem You don t really know how are you supposed to feel when you re reading it, andimportantly what does it say about your own person How are we supposed to feel about ourselves when we know that we are looking at something which shouldn t be applauded or even made public but at the same time we can t stop ourselves from staring right at it Two stars, Three stars, Four stars Good Show