Saturday, 9 June 2012

Book Review: Martin Amis - Money

Author: Martin Amis
Titled: Money
Publisher: Vintage
Released: 1984

A good book stays etched into your brain for months after reading it. Years, even. So why does Martin Amis’ Money stay ensconced between my ears even though I didn’t like it?

Good or bad, I try to get through a book every ten days or so. I can safely say that books I don’t like fail to stay in my mind after reading them. I’m usually hankering to get onto the next book and leave any bad thoughts behind.
For some reason Money is different gravy. Why? Who knows? I don’t think it will be one of those situations where subconsciously I will grow to like it two weeks or even two years from now. I guess that’s the beauty of a subconscious, though. You just don't know.

“Towards the end of a novel you get a floppy feeling. It may just be tiredness at turning the pages. People read so fast – to get to the end to be shot of you. I see their problem, For how long do you immerse yourselves in other lives? Five minutes, but not five hours. It’s a real effort.” Page 354.

After getting through this novel (the first 150 pages were some of the hardest I’ve read), Martin Amis sums it up right here.  
It was the first Martin Amis novel I’ve read. It won’t be the last. I like when authors write about horrible people. I also admired the fact that Amis introduced himself as a character midway through the story, dispelling any suggestions that the main character was an autobiographical account of himself (this is where I was intrigued for 30 pages or so). The former admiration is quite prevalent of the world, or so a miserable fucker like me thinks. Overall, though, something with Money just seemed off.

Was it a British writer making majority of the setting in New York and failing to depict its surroundings? Not really. Perhaps it was the main character. He just didn’t seem very British to me. At times my mind was casting back to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon. Maybe because of the similar industries the respective main characters were in, but to me at times it just felt like Money was the other side of the coin. The perverse side.
Lucky Jim (Martin’s father’s 1954 cult novel) hit all the heights that Money didn’t. Shoes too big to fill? For me it was the narrative. Lucky Jim worked so well in third person. Jim Dixon terrorising the upper class in humourous ways, whilst still coming out on top of the pile. Money may have worked better with an adopted third person narrative. In fact, I’m almost certain of it.

A book written in the same year as Money was William Boyd’s Stars and Bars. That, too, was hard work for the first 150 pages or so, however from there a sequence of great hooks throughout the story transformed this novel into something intriguing and great in a slow burning kind of way. Along with Lucky Jim, Stars… was also written in the third person, and funnily enough, consisted of a British character based in America. Where Henderson Dores succeeded, John Self failed and on more levels than just the respective stories.
So, after this rant I still find myself no closer as to why I just can’t feel any love for this book. The one that got away, I’d say.

Simon K.