©1989 Martin Amis; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
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"Great, I think..."
I was totally drawn in with this book, swept away, mesmerised with the characters. I loved the story, the people, I laughed, I shook my head, I couldn't have stopped listening for anything. But I got to the end and thought, I haven't a clue what that was all about. Yet I loved it.
It's one, I think, that you've got to concentrate on. Amis is incredibly witty and clever, and I kind of felt like I was peeking in the head of a VERY clever man. If you've read any Clive James, it's a similar style.
However, if a narrator can make or break a book, as they so often do, this narrator is superb! He brings everyone to life, not just, 'yeah, i can imagine that,' but fully to life so you feel as though you'd recognise them if they walked past you on the street or spoke to you in a pub.
The other impression I got is one of confusion, not over the writing, certainly not over the writing, but over the characters. I felt as though I should hate the people in this. Some of them are truly awful, but I couldn't wait for them to come back into the story, and I liked spending time with them, which felt odd and uncomfortable but safely uncomfortable, if that makes sense.
I wouldn't recommend this as a story to dip in and out of in short bursts, but if you're going on a long trip or have a chunk of time to dedicate uninterrupted, then go for it!
"A great book, brilliantly narrated"
This is the third book I have read by Martin Amis, two of which have been audiobooks (the other was "Money" - also brilliant, with the same narrator - a plea to AUDIBLE to get it). In print, as it were, I find him to be a difficult author; I like to read quite quickly but it is simply impossible to do this without losing the essence.
But with an audiobook, you have to go at the pace of the narrator, and so learn to appreciate the mind-boggling prose, the savagely funny humour, the variations in pace and tone, the torrent of ideas, and the complications of the characters. He really is an exceptional author, and this is a truly great book.
Of course, you need a good narrator and Steven Pacey does an quite superb job. He clearly relishes the task - he seems to roll the prose round his mouth like a fine wine - and he brings the book to life quite brilliantly. His judgement of pace and colour is faultless; and he draws the characters brilliantly too.
Strongly recommended, particularly if you are already familiar with and like the author's work.
"Brilliant, should be qualified though"
This is the book that got me hooked on Amis in the first place and is my second favourite by him (after Time's Arrow). As with most of his works it can be quite difficult to follow if you aren't used to his style, so I do not recommend this as either bedtime, or light reading.
The ending however is one of my all time favourites. I won't spoil it for you, so I can't even tell you why it was so good, but it gave me such a well up of different emotions that I have never found in any other book. Well worth it.
"A right good listen"
The story is a "must" for fans of urban fiction, but may not be to everybody's taste. Check out reviews for this book elsewhere and you'll find a mixed bag of opinions ranging from "best book ever" to "utter garbage".
However, one thing I'm sure nobody would ever argue over is the quality of Steven Pacey's narration. His accents are truly outstanding. His acting is spot on, and his understanding of the author's nuance makes this story a sheer delight to listen to.
I wasn't a huge fan of Pacey when he was in Blake's 7, but wow, he's come a long way. My next month's audiobooks will definately be titles he has read. Give it a try!
All right, not brilliant
I would have cut the book by 50%
Dull, rambling, self indulgent tosh. Do yourself a favour and read something else.
"Amis clearly gave up on this book 2 thirds in"
A decent ending!
Its clear that Martin Amis gave up on this book about two thirds in the abysmal weak ending is testament to that fact I was beyond stunned 21 plus hours for what?!
So before you invest 21 hours 41 minutes of YOUR valuable time on this literary folly, please remember that I at least had the decency to warn you!
"Not easy to like."
Much has been written in the reviews of this novel and so for what it is worth I will add my own thoughts. Definitely a marmite book I think. I wanted to like this. I had read no Amis before (father or son) but having seen junior speak at Hay-on-Wye festival I wanted to give him a go. This perhaps was not the book to start with. You know it is good and you know it is insightful and on the money in its social observations but reviewers are right when they say it is hard to like and it does feel slow at times as it crawls painfully to its close. But none of this should detract from the writing which is excellent. And I think that's the point. Don't sit down with this if you want a fluffy easy to read page turner. It isn't that at all. But I would be surprised if this does not survive to be read by many generations to come and be all the more relevant and recognised for the image it creates of the London of the late 20th Century. That having been said I am 100 pages into Lionel Asbo. Much more accessible and engaging.
"The prince of the unpleasant"
Here?s a book that you just have to take a view on ? and one which I found imperative that I finish if only not to be beaten by it. There is a crossroads in latter half of the twentieth century gloomy old London where Kingsley Amis, Anthony Burgess, Will Self and Martin Amis meet ? it?s a place that you shouldn?t wander into if you are looking for life affirmation, the feel good factor or a message. The medium is the message here ? grotesque characters in grotty situations and plenty of evidence of the basis for the Booker panel?s disquiet. Only in the very late stages are there any flutterings of an authorial voice with anything of substance to say. Darts and TV ? I mean, honestly? Thank heavens for post-colonial voices in contemporary literature.
"Nasty but good"
Not sure it was 'enjoyable' as such. I read it because I had not read any Martin Amis and thought i 'should'.
Not really. I think Mr Amis has a rather unpleasant line of thought that must run through his head.
Can't say I enjoyed any of it. I can see he is a good writer - but Oh! So negative and dark!
As another reviewer wrote - life is too short to spend on listening to such darkly imagined stuff.
"could not finish it!"
I pride myself in being able to read anything, but this one beat me. I gave it a good go, but it was just so slow that it was not going anywhere, even with it played on fast forward I could still follow the story and did not feel that I had missed anything. In the end I gave up.
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