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Football Mad

Martin Amis, 3 December 1981

The Soccer Tribe 
by Desmond Morris.
Cape, 320 pp., £12.50, September 1981, 9780224019354
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... padded gloom. Who should be at the bar but Malcolm Allison (then manager of Crystal Palace) and Martin Chivers (then centre-forward with Spurs and England). Perched on stools, these big modern princes were talking intimately and earnestly, their heavy shoulders tensed over their drinks. Naturally I edged up close to Chiv and Big Mal, hoping to hear ...

In Praise of Pritchett

Martin Amis, 22 May 1980

On the Edge of the Cliff 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 179 pp., £4.95, February 1980, 0 7011 2438 5
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The Tale Bearers: Essays on English, American and Other Writers 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 223 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 7011 2435 0
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... V.S. Pritchett’s short stories are retrospective, provincial, formless and feminine. His is an art that does not care how peripheral it sometimes seems. There are no twists, payoffs, reverses, jackpots or epiphanies. Pritchett never rubs life up the wrong way, and is happy to leave only a faint shine on its fur. He uses the forms and addresses of minor art, yet there is no one quite like him – no one alive or male, anyway ...

Return of the Male

Martin Amis, 5 December 1991

Iron John: A Book about Men 
by Robert Bly.
Element, 268 pp., £12.95, September 1991, 9781852302337
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The way men think: Intellect, Intimacy and the Erotic Imagination 
by Liam Hudson and Bernadine Jacot.
Yale, 219 pp., £16.95, November 1991, 0 300 04997 8
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Utne Reader. Men, it’s time to pull together: The Politics of Masculinity 
Lens, 144 pp., $4, May 1991Show More
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... In 1919, after prolonged study, the Harvard ethologist William Morton Wheeler pronounced the male wasp ‘an etiological nonentity’. An animal behaviourist had scrutinised the male wasp and found – no behaviour. We can well imagine the male wasp’s response to such a verdict: his initial shock and hurt; his descent into a period of depressed introspection; his eventual decision to improve his act ...

The Moronic Inferno

Martin Amis, 1 April 1982

The Dean’s December 
by Saul Bellow.
Secker, 312 pp., £7.95, March 1982, 0 436 03952 4
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... Iggy Blaikie, Kayo Obermark, Sam Zincowicz, Kotzie Kreindl, Clara Spohr, Teodoro Valdepenas, Clem Tambow, Rinaldo Cantabile, Tennie Pontritter, Lucas Asphalter, Murray Verviger, Wharton Horricker … The way a writer names his characters provides a good index to the way he sees the world – to his reality-level, his responsiveness to the accidental humour and freakish poetry of life ...

Joan Didion’s Style

Martin Amis, 7 February 1980

The White Album 
by Joan Didion.
Weidenfeld, 223 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 297 77702 5
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... Joan Didion is the poet of the Great Californian Emptiness. She sings of a land where it is easier to Dial-A-Devotion than to buy a book, where the freeway sniper feels ‘real bad’ about picking off a family of five, where kids in High Kindergarten are given LSD and peyote by their parents, where young hustlers get lethally carried away while rolling elderly film-stars, where six-foot-two drag queens shop for fishnet bikinis, where a 26-year-old woman can consign her five-year-old daughter to the centre divider of Interstate 5: when her fingers were prised loose from the fence 12 hours later, the child pointed out that she had run after the car containing her family for ‘a long time ...

Bujak and the Strong Force

Martin Amis, 6 June 1985

... Bujak?​ Yeah, I knew him. The whole street knew Bujak. I knew him before and I knew him after. We all knew Bujak – sixty years old, hugely slabbed and seized with muscle and tendon, smiling at a bonfire in the yard, carrying desks and sofas on his back, lifting a tea-chest full of books with one hand. Bujak, the strongman. He was also a dreamer, a reader, a babbler ...

N.V. Rampant meets Martin Amis

N.V. Rampant, 18 October 1984

... This is the big one,’ I told myself nervously. ‘The Martin Amis interview. This is the one that could make you or break you.’ As I neared his front door my heart was in my mouth. No doubt he would have said it more cleverly. He would have said his heart was palpitating with trepidation like a poodle in heat in a monastery of mastiffs ...

Satisfaction

Julian Loose, 11 May 1995

The Information 
by Martin Amis.
Flamingo, 494 pp., £15.99, March 1995, 0 00 225356 9
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... Clearly, for Martin Amis, enough is nothing like enough. To read him is to discover an author as voracious as his characters: like Terry in Success, who specifies that ‘I want all that and I want all that. And I want all that and I want all that. And I want all that and I want all that.’ Or like the fast-food, fast-sex junkie John Self of Money, who always gets less than he bargains for, yet keeps going back for more: ‘I would cheerfully go into the alchemy business, if it existed and made lots of money ...

Martin and Martina

Ian Hamilton, 20 September 1984

Money: A Suicide Note 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 352 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 224 02276 8
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... got anything better to do with his spare time. ‘The yobs are winning,’ said a character in Martin Amis’s Success, and one could almost take this as the ‘burden’ of his work so far. In earlier books, there have been yobs aplenty, and from the beginning Amis has scrutinised the species with some ardour. With ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Hatchet Jobs, 11 September 2003

... Martin Amis doesn’t like journalists (if you didn’t know that already, you will now, having read Christopher Tayler’s review a few pages ago). This doesn’t stop journalists from loving Martin Amis. When the Man Booker Prize longlist was announced last month, reporters were delighted to see his name on it ...

Nutmegged

Frank Kermode: The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 by Martin Amis., 10 May 2001

The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 506 pp., £20, April 2001, 0 224 05059 1
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... can be left till later, if only a little later. Clichés are infallible symptoms of used thinking. Martin Amis has always wanted to be a good writer and he has got what he wanted. He early acquired a habit of vigilance, of stopping clichés at the frontier, and that habit couldn’t easily be broken. He is one of the few critics who trouble, even in a ...

Anti-Dad

Adam Mars-Jones: Amis Resigns, 21 June 2012

Lionel Asbo: State of England 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 288 pp., £18.99, June 2012, 978 0 224 09620 1
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... To rate his achievement at its least, Martin Amis has been for upwards of 25 years the By Appointment purveyor of classic sentences to his generation. In Money (1984) he achieved something that was as much of a breakthrough for our insular literature as Bellow’s had been in The Adventures of Augie March (1953) for American writing, a manner electric, impure and unimpressed, except sometimes by itself, mixing refracted slang with swaggeringly artificial cadence ...

As a returning lord

John Lanchester, 7 May 1987

Einstein’s Monsters 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 127 pp., £5.95, April 1987, 0 224 02435 3
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... the introduction to Einstein’s Monsters, and is, in a way, a typical Martin Amis paragraph: Every morning, six days a week, I leave the house and drive a mile to the flat where I work. For seven or eight hours I am alone. Each time I hear a sudden whining in the air or one of the more atrocious impacts of city life, or play ...

Darts for art’s sake

Julian Symons, 28 September 1989

London Fields 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 470 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 224 02609 7
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... and even thinking or reading about them for too long may induce ‘nausea, clinical nausea’. So Martin Amis in ‘Thinkability’, the introduction to his collection of stories Einstein’s Monsters. The monsters are the weapons – but also ourselves, who are ‘not fully human, not for now’. Given such a premise, the weapons must be written about ...

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