MARTIN AMIS - A TRIBUTE.
I read Money in my early twenties and continued to read Martin Amis for the next three decades. All of his fiction, most of his non fiction. Probably my favourite contemporary English writer, though I couldn't get a rollup paper between him and Ian McEwan, who I also discovered at the same time way back then
When I read Money, and London Fields immediately afterwards, I remember that unique excitement that coincides with discovering a writer whose fiction completely transports you, for hours, and a release as a reader into something fresh and thrilling. I bought everything he'd written, up to that point, and read it in a few weeks.
A writer who made me want to write but also think that I should give up because he was so good. An absolute master of language. Those are the writers who make you play your best game. I read a couple of his books at just the right time too, because I was having a terrible time, and those books actually threw me a lifeline.
Hard to pick a favourite novel so I won't try; I can only select a shortlist - Money, London Fields, The Information, Yellow Dog, Lionel ASBO, The Zone of Interest. Experience remains my favourite memoir.
I went to see him talk and launch Koba the Dread (as horrifying a book as it is courageous). He also read from the then unpublished, Yellow Dog. That signed copy of Koba is one of the treasures of my collection.
Another anecdote: when I was an editor at Virgin Books and we were swallowed by RH, I remember being startled by their annual sales review. It resembled a hybrid of a tech giant's product release and the stage-managed conference of an autocratic party (they came for me nine months later with a loaded pistol). The "leader" appraised the big hitters on the forthcoming catalogue and when she mentioned a new book from Martin Amis (Lionel ASBO), she rolled her eyes disapprovingly and said "we'll get a better title". I'm so glad the author's title remained. I think of the bark of Lionel's dog "Fuck off, fuck off" and laugh. I'm guessing he told them as much.
More than sad, I think it's worrying to think that a writer as insightful, rational and entertaining as Amis won't be writing anymore; though the voice isn't silenced because of the tremendous body of work he's left us.
[Alas, this isn't a place to download comments about how much you don't like his books]