Month: November 2009

Martin Amis is fantastic, too.

n4815.jpg About a week ago, I declared my love for Philip Roth. Now, he is not alone. Because Martin Amis is fantastic, too.

I’m terrible about remembering books I’ve read, even just a couple months after I’ve read them. I figure this might help a bit. Or, at least, it’ll amuse me for a few minutes.

So, in a few quotes, here’s why I like Martin Amis so much. I qualify this declaration like I qualified my love for Philip Roth: I’ve only read one of Amis’s books. So here we go:

Like writing, paintings seem to hint at a topsy-turvy world in which, so to speak, time’s arrow moves the other way. The invisible speedlines suggests a different nexus of sequence and process. That thought again. It always strangely disquiets me. I wonder: is this the case with all the arts? Well, it’s not the case with music. It’s not the case with opera, where everyone talks backward and sounds god-awful.

Brilliant! By the way, the events of the novel are told backward, but the narrator doesn’t know. It’s fantastic.

You can see the stars, now, in the city, or everybody else can, and not just an attractive smattering here and there. No: the inordinate cosmos. Most people behave as if the stars have been visible all along. To them it’s no big deal…To me, the stars are motelike, just twists of dust. Yet I feel their fire. How the burn my sight.

Oh, God!

Now and then, when the sky is starless, I look up and form the hilarious suspicion that the world will soon start making sense.

This stuff is absolutely beautiful. Not all of it is, though, if that’s what you’re beginning to suspect. The sentence directly before this little clip is “He dreams he is shitting human bones.”

And, finally,

How fortunate that I am unkillable. Unkillable, but not immortal. What happened to our manhood?

Ahh! (Remember, here, if you’re confused, that the story goes backward.) How I love Martin Amis! Entirely differently, of course, than I love Philip Roth. I sure as hell wouldn’t volunteer to be Amis’s Herta.

Why I’m in love with Philip Roth

portnoys_complaintSo, you say, maybe you shouldn’t declare your love for an author when you’ve only read one of his books. And maybe I shouldn’t. But I am.

And here, in a series of quotes, is why. I sure as hell hope my mother doesn’t read this.

The bus, the bus, what intervened on the bus to prevent me from coming all over the sleeping shikse‘s arm – I don’t know. Common sense, you think? Common decency? My right mind, as they say, coming to the fore? Well, where is this right mind on that afternoon I came home from school to find my mother out of the house, and our refrigerator stocked with a big purplish piece of raw liver? I believe that I have already confessed to the piece of liver that I bought in a butcher shop and banged behind a billboard on the way to a bar mitzvah lesson. Well, I wish to make a clean breast of it, Your Holiness. That – she – it – wasn’t my first piece. My first piece I had in the privacy of my own home, rolled round my cock in the bathroom at three-thirty – and then had again on the end of a fork, at five-thirty, along with the other members of that poor innocent family of mine.

So. Now you know the worst thing I have ever done. I fucked my own family’s dinner.

Oh God, my eyes were tearing up as I read that. In the writing lab. EM#4 (the good one, if you have any idea what I’m talking about) asked me what was so funny, and I couldn’t tell him. I just couldn’t. He had, incidentally, asked me if I believe in God only two days before, and I had already disappointed him once.

On to #2. And this one’s especially terrible! Here’s the setup: Lina, the prostitute, has just had sex a few times with Alex and his girlfriend, The Monkey. Here’s what happens afterward:

So Lina – not a person overly sensitive to interpersonal struggle – lay back on the pillow beside me and began to tell us all about herself. The bane of existence was the abortions. She was the mother of one child, a boy, with whom she lived on Monte Mario (“in a beautiful new building,” The Monkey translated). Unfortunately she could not manage, in her situation, any more than one – “though she loves children” – and so was always in and out of the abortionist’s office. Her only precautionary device seemed to be a spermicidal douche of no great reliability.”

Okay, I know it’s not funny. Except it is. Except I can’t help myself.

Only two more. You can make it! Be a trooper!

I’m not even going to explain this one:

“Sarah, the best safeguard against asphyxiation is breathing. Just breathe, and that’s all there is to it. More or less.”

Just one more. I won’t explain this one either, though it’s not too difficult to figure out:

“As it turns out, you can’t stick tapioca pudding into anything.”


And there you have it. This, dear readers, is Why I Am in Love with Philip Roth. And what might it say about me, you ask? No comment. I would volunteer to be his Monkey, but someone would get the wrong idea…

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