Revenger's tragedy, comedy of errors, contemporary satire - The Information skewers high life and low in Martin Amis's brilliant return to the territory of Money and London Fields.
©1995 Martin Amis; (P)2009 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
After 7 hours of listening I gave up. I want a book to which I can listen while driving or doing household chores. The narration is excellent, however, the text itself is challenging at best. A rather simple plot, larded with high-flown physical explanations and numerous irrelevant "information" left me guessing whether it's outstanding literature or a failed attempt. Maybe this work demands the printed form, narrated it didn't work out for me.
I'd never read Martin Amis before and chose this to remedy the gap in my reading. I really tried with this novel. I persisted for about 7 hours of it before giving up. None of the characters was remotely likeable, so I began to care less and less about them and what happened to them. The writing is irritating. For instance, "She was a woman. She knew so much more about tears than he did". This is followed by a long list of works of classical literature that she doesn't know "but she knew tears". There is also much irrelevant astro-physical information sprinkled at random through the novel. In summary, I found it pretentious. The narrator was good, but it must have been an uphill battle for him.
"a dark and savagely funny book"
Martin Amis will not be everyone's cup of tea. His is a deeply pessimistic view of the world. His characters are weak, pathetic and generally unlikeable misfits and fate is cruel to them. In "The Information", the two main protagonists are authors who were students at Oxford together; one is a commercial success but a very poor writer, the other is profoundly unsuccessful and writes extremely obscure books which no-one reads of buys, and who scrapes a living writing reviews of books almost as obscure and deadly as his own. Their relationship is suffused with jealousy, deception, suppressed rage and hate. On this platform Amis writes a dark and savagely funny tale with some truly hilarious set-pieces satirising the publishing world. His fascination with low life is as strong and brilliantly expressed as ever, but the low life characters and incidents seem almost periphery to the book, and do not easily slot into the narrative - the book's only real weakness - in contrast to my favourite Amis book "London Fields".
The narration by Stephen Pacey is nothing less than a tour de force. He brings out all the fantastic invention and colour of Amis' prose, he depicts the characters brilliantly, and he seems to almost relish the savage humour - the book is laugh out loud funny at times. You could almost believe that the book was written for him to narrate, so at home is he with Amis' style.
Warmly recommended - particularly if you are already an Amis fan. His books are superbly suited to being read out loud, and even if you have read the book before, your appreciation of the author's skill and the book will be greatly enhanced.
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