The murderee is Nicola Six, a "black hole" of sex and self-loathing who is intent on orchestrating her own extinction. The murderer may be Keith Talent, a violent lowlife whose only passions are pornography and darts; or the rich, honorable, and dimly romantic Guy Clinch. As Nicola leads her suitors towards the precipice, London--and, indeed, the whole world--seems to shamble after them in a corrosively funny novel of complexity and morality.
©1989 Martin Amis (P)2010 AudioGo
This is an astonising novel in which the modern English idiom is used with extreme hyperbole at once to amuse, to titilate, to shock to sadden and to horrify. It is a sweeping, lyrical and philosophical story with its characters persisting in one's memory like long absent dear friends. It is laugh-out-loud funny, highly literate and, at the end, a tear-jerker. If there is a Hell down there, I'm sure old Kingsley Amis' suffererings are compounded by the degree his considerable literary talent is surpassed by his own son (DNA check?).
Steven Pacey is the best narrator I have so far heard on Audible. I assume he is English, but he recites in a faultless and lively Mid-Western drawl, and masters several other voices and accents perfectly. He is such a pleasure to listen to that I would advise people NOT to read the book but to listen to it on Audible. It is a far richer experience.
This was my first exposure to Martin Amis--I'd seen a couple of references by literary types who'd cited this as one of the top 50 or 100--or whatever--novels of the late 20th century.
For the close listener, this is definitely a very satisfying, dense work of fiction by a very talented and original writer. And for all its literary merits, it's a surprisingly entertaining and engaging listen.
Written in 1989 and set in 1999, parts of the book admittedly have a somewhat dated feel. The digressions on pornography and masturbation, for instance--which at the time of publication were still viewed as quite modern and "raw"--seem almost quaint by today's standards.
Yet other things, like Keith Talent's obsession with TV and video (and even his being featured in an early version of reality TV) are oddly prescient considering their pre-internet context.
But be prepared to rewind; Amis doesn't spell anything out, and there are enough soliloquies and extended rants (after all, this is 21+ hour download) for you to drift off and miss an essential character detail or plot point.
Fortunately for such a long book, the audio narration is unbelievably good. Pacey's American accent as the New York-born narrator Samson Young is almost flawless (think a smarter/sarcastic Regis Philbin) although he does give himself away with certain pronunciations (i.e., he pronounces urinal as "yurINEnal" instead of "YURinal", or calf as "koff" instead of "kaff"). But I have yet to hear an English narrator master a totally perfect American accent, so that's a pretty small quibble...
And it's worth having an English actor reading the novel because where he really shines is in his portrayal of East-ender Keith Talent. As such, this performance alone is worth the audio download, innit?
I just learned that a 2014 movie version of this is scheduled for release this fall. I have my doubts that a film adaptation could successfully capture the scope and appeal of the novel, but who knows?
With Lotsa Love from gaz regn
The book is not only very clever (I'm sure lots when clear over my head), but the narrator is absolutely fabulous. He made the experience of listening to this masterpiece like true theater, never stepping out of character, no matter which character he was playing at the time
This was a fantastic book. I have been a fan of both Martin Amis and Steven Pacey in the past. They are both excellent at what they do, and to have them come together for this title made this one excellent work to listen to. This book kept me enthralled for its entirety. I don't know if it is marked as a thriller, but I was still wondering what was going to happen until the last 10 minutes.
Martin Amis' characters are all terrible people. Accept and enjoy that and you will love this book. Other than that, they are funny, and flawed, and excellent characters. Sure, they may ride the lines of being stereotypes, but they're portrayed in an interesting way.
Then there is Steven Pacey. I am not afraid to acknowledge that Pacey is the best narrator I've listened to and I have over 100 audiobooks completed and he is in fine form here. His characters all sound great and easily distinguishable. He really added a lot and almost tips the scale to make listening to this book the superior choice.
Of course I would recommend it, however you should listen alone or at least not in mixed company.
Not what I excepted, and not very comfortable.
Niccola, was great, and so was Keith, and Guy, but the writer Sam was my favorite.
Many laugh out loud for many seconds, parts, and a few stop the recording and pull over to laugh moments, really too many list.
I don't usually go for novels from the English 80s but this one does nicely with the time period, and language. However it is dark and uncomfortable, I don't mind telling someone I know will not and has not read this or anything like this, but I don't know that I would want to admit to someone who was familiar with the work how much I enjoyed it, guilty indulgence or symptom of a diseased mind.
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