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Martin Amis's life could itself provide the formula for an enthralling work of fiction. Son of one of the most popular and best-loved novelists of the post-War era, he has forged a groundbreaking manner of writing that owes nothing to the style of his father, nor indeed to anyone else. He relished and recorded the bizarre, turbulent atmosphere of Britain and the US during the 1970s and 80s, arguably the transformative period of the late 20th century. No other contemporary writer has proved so magnetic for the popular press: he has, despite himself, achieved celebrity status. Of late, his reputation as a novelist has been matched by his outspoken, challenging writing on contemporary global politics, and he has earned the status as the Orwell of the early 21st century.
Martin Amis offers the real Martin Amis, a cabinet of contrasts: tortured, eloquently aloof, kind, obsessive, loved by women, a dedicated family man, often the architect of his own undoing, and a literary genius. Moreover, this fascinating biography discloses the autobiographical thread that runs through Amis's books.
Richard Bradford has talked with Amis at length, questioned him on his childhood, his private history, his opinions and the inspiration for his fiction, and these exchanges are supplemented by interviews with a large number of his friends and fellow writers.
Praise for Richard Bradford's previous titles:
Praise for Lucky Him: The Life of Kingsley Amis:
'Nearly all critical biographies relate the work to the life - insidiously, tendentiously, helplessly. Richard Bradford is different: he does it convincingly, and with vigour. The result is an original and stimulating book'. Martin Amis
'I found Bradford's approach refreshing. Rare among literary academics he writes clearly, doesn't show off and knows a lot about his subject. He presents a fascinating chronicle of the development of Amis's brilliant ear for speech... He also brings out the full extent of the symbiosis between Amis and his best friend Philip Larkin: in a way Larkin invented Amis.' Craig Brown
'At his better moments Bradford... rises to Amis's stylistic level.' Humphrey Carpenter
In this colorful, though ultimately unsatisfying biography, University of Ulster English professor Bradford (Lucky Him: The Life of Kingsley Amis), recounts the life of British novelist Martin Amis. Growing up in the rocky household of his hard-partying novelist father, Kingsley, Amis traveled in illustrious literary circles. Bradford follows the young man from childhood to Oxford and on to the vibrant intellectual scene in 1970s London. Dipping his toe in literary waters, Amis became involved with the New Statesman hobnobbing with Christopher Hitchens, Julian Barnes, and Ian McEwan and began his own writing career. From his outrageous second novel, Dead Babies, to his mature works, Money and London Fields, Amis developed a style that bitingly satirizes contemporary mores. His delight in giving offense, matched with that virtuoso style, made him an enfant terrible of the London literary establishment. Bradford rounds out the portrait of Amis's career with some attention to his personal life, including two marriages and the ongoing struggle with his father's literary shadow. Unfortunately, the result is less biography than hagiography, replete with musings on why Amis is the most important British novelist of his generation. Meanwhile, Bradford's overreliance on interviews with Amis and his friends many passages of which are simply quoted verbatim creates a gossipy air, and readers may doubt the completeness of the account. Photos.