Friday, November 20, 2009

'A minor Islamic theme'

On Martin Amis's new novel, over here. It sounds terrible.

11 Comments:

Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

agreed, sounds terrible, though not as bad as the one after it which has a character inspired by jordan named "threnody". This one does sound bad though-he is however writing about a period he can vaguely remember-not sure he even lives in the real world any more. At least he's not unsubtly using his son as "inspiration" like a certain s faulks. I wonder how many more awful books amis can write before he stops getting column inches? And he is still seriously dodgy on islam.

11/20/2009 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Good grief, I thought you were making that up! Amis vs Two Bags of Silicone. The thing about this is that neither the name 'Threnody' nor her insistence that her name appear in quotes sound true to me.

11/21/2009 12:23:00 AM  
Blogger BeijingCat said...

A terrible Martin Amis book? I don't think that's been a shock to anyone since ... when was MONEY? 1984?

11/21/2009 03:09:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Everyone feels the same way about her [Jordan]. She's someone you're supposed to dislike, and in disliking her you're supposed to feel marginally better about yourself.

Charlie Brooker today. This seems to be the point of Amis' novel, and indeed all his commentary on "low culture."

11/21/2009 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

The more I think about it, the stranger that interview is.

Amis said he had been told it would get him "in trouble with the feminists", but he insisted that it was actually "a very feminist book" and that "they haven't got a case".

I thought this was weird from the off. It's defensive and attacks a straw man. Who haven't got a case? Either MA was stitched up here or he failed to explain how it's "a very feminist book." (And what would that mean? Penny Red posted last night about internecine feminist arguments; it's possible to both be a feminist and be attacked by feminists.)

"She was pathologically promiscuous. She really had the mental age of someone who was 12 or 13 and I think she was terrified...."

Is he patronising her here or was she actually mentally retarded? All I know about her is that she was an alcoholic and she started drinking in her mid teens, which suggests precocity rather than the reverse. From the little I know about Sally Amis, she seems to have been a depressive who drank as a response to depression and was promiscuous as a result of both rather than someone who was promiscuous who drank and was depressed because of it.

It would have needed the Taliban to protect her.

From drink or from promiscuity? I think that's one of the strangest quotes of the decade.

11/21/2009 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeeseboard said...

I would've linked to the Threnody thing had I not been on the move when I posted the above.

I don't think you can look to Amis for rationality, consistency, or indeed very much sense these days (if you ever could). The dilemma he faces, and which he still hasn't worked out, is that in almost all of his fiction he eviscerated 'western decadence'. That evidently caused him some concern after September 11th - so he came out all guns blazing against Islamism.

Only problem is that now he's writing about how awful the 60s sexual revolution was, he sounds eerily similar to... er... Sayyid Qutb. And that's before we get to that genuinely weird Taliban quotation.

In the past he got out of having to profess any geuinely held political views because he is/was a satirist, and rather than coming out as a communist he said that the stance in Money was 'against the great money conspiracy', whatever that means.

now he's writing as much political commentary as fiction (no matter how rubbish both might be), he can't really hide behind that any more.

On 'very feminist book' - he's using the Nick Cohen defence of saying 'well I'm a real feminist, anyone else is inauthentic'. total bollocks of course, a bit like all the recent hardline right-wing, islamophobic 'anti-BNP' groups (which have also convinced Cohen and a certain Louis Amis).

I'm pretty sure, too, that the more likely reason for Sally Amis's promiscuity was manic depression (people with that often end up promiscuous when in one of the attacks). People were promiscuous before the late 1960s - it might have been more widely accepted after the 'sexual revolution' but still.

11/21/2009 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

@CC- I think that Amis was semi-plagiarising a joke from Tom Stoppard's Arcadia.

As it is, I do think that Amis is partially correct about feminism, though it is very difficult to write about without the proper terms of reference. I am not trying to persuade anyone about anything, but here are some of my views. It does seem to me that firstly, 'mainstream' feminism is very intolerant on complex issues such as abortion. Secondly, I do not think that western society is ideal in its treatment of women: look at the vast difference between convicted and alleged rapes in Britain. Thirdly, it seems to have been partially hijacked by men, and women who have different values to the 'founding mothers' are often attacked. Fourthly, it seems to me that they had a rather Faustian pact with misogynists over sexuality: so we are fed these films of strong intelligent beautiful young women kicking male ass, yet frankly I think that Britain is a very sexist society towards old/ fat women.

As I said, I know little about feminism, but being bicultural, I am astounded by the simplicity and smugness of many feminists I read in the papers.

However, rather than make subtle points, Amis seems to be stoking controversy to push book sales.

11/22/2009 02:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

It's just yet another novel showing the superiority of Martin Amis over his family, isn't it?

First he skewered dear old dad for his youthfull failure to be aware of teh gulag Archipelo, now it's up to sis to show how her lifestyle was wrong.

Next up: hjow his son is a feckless layabout who only got where he is because He, Martin Amis looks out for him.

11/23/2009 07:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Next up: how his son is a feckless layabout who only got where he is because He, Martin Amis looks out for him.

I'd read that one.

11/23/2009 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Gregor:

the vast difference between convicted and alleged rapes in Britain.

is not to be taken at face value.

I can easily imagine some daughter/whore dichotomy, for example, being a problem in the police and CJ system generally, but in terms of evidence for failure to convict the guilty, that's undoubtedly the wrong figure to use.

(Even attrition rates are perhaps to be treated with some circumspection: this is a forensically unusual crime, and like it or not, the evidential problems cut both ways. I like defendants' procedural rights, even for alleged 'rapists'.)

There was something about this on R4 recently, described here:

straightstatistics.org

An excellent example of 'conspiracy'-like behaviour done mostly unselfconsciously and for good motives. A bit like grossly exaggerating the effects of passive smoking.

A charming anecdote about rape allegations: I know of a case in which a woman told her husband she had been raped by a stranger, to explain having given him chlamydia. Reportedly, he went along with it, though one imagines he had doubts at some level. No police complaint was made, but if the husband had been more credulous or more vindictive against her, she might very well have found herself in a corner from which she felt the only way out was to tell the cops about the invented street rape. It's just one of many reasons why false rape allegations might be made - it's illustrative of the possibility, not intended as stats, of course.

Personally, I'm somewhat inclined to agree with Germaine Greer that rape shouldn't be a distinct crime.

11/23/2009 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Even attrition rates are perhaps to be treated with some circumspection

should read

Even conviction rates are perhaps to be treated with some circumspection

12/20/2009 07:53:00 PM  

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