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By Martin Amis
Published by Vintage on 2019-01-22
FICTION / Anthologies (multiple authors), LITERARY COLLECTIONS, FICTION / Historical, REFERENCE / Writing Skills
As a journalist, critic, and novelist, Martin Amis has always turned his keen intellect and unrivaled prose loose on an astonishing range of topics—politics, sports, celebrity, America, and, of course, literature. Collected here is some of his best nonfiction work from over two decades. Amis writes about finally confronting the effects of aging on his athletic prowess. He revisits the worlds of Bellow and Nabokov, his “twin peaks,” masters who have obsessed and inspired him. And he turns his piercingly observant eye on Donald Trump, whom he finds “scowling out from under an omelette of makeup” in the run-up to the 2016 Republican Convention, and at a post-election rally, regarding his crowd of supporters with a “flat sneer of Ozymandian hauteur.”
Overflowing with startling and singular turns of phrase, and complete with new commentary by the author, The Rub of Time is a vital addition to any bookshelf, and the perfect primer for readers discovering Amis’s fierce talents for the first time.
A sharp, witty collection from the prolific writer of fiction, memoir, and acerbic essays.
In his latest work of nonfiction, Amis (The Zone of Interest, 2014, etc.) gathers an enticing miscellany of short pieces—reportage, political and cultural commentary, book reviews, and personal reflections—published during the past 30 years, amended with occasional footnotes and postscripts and, writes the author, given “a great deal of polishing.” In an affectionate piece on The King’s English, his ...
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Praise for Martin Amis's The Rub of Time 'The book's heart? .' .' . is its literary criticism, labor that allows Amis to realize his most comfortable and integrated self: a novelist engaged in the scrupulous appreciation of others? style.' ''The New Yorker 'Martin Amis is a great writer and a great reader.' .' .' . He is our sure-footed mountain guide, leading us gleefully from one delight to the next.' ''The Sunday Times (London) 'A sharp, witty collection.' .' .' . Literate, perspicacious, and thoroughly entertaining.' ''Kirkus Reviews 'Certitude is the key to Amis's superhuman flair''and what makes this collection so compelling.' ''New Statesman (London) 'Amis is infallibly a lucid, linguistically precise commentator.' .' .' . A witty, welcome presence.' ''Publishers Weekly
RT I N A M I S The Rub of Time Martin Amis is the author of fourteen novels, most recently The Zone of Interest, the memoir Experience, two collections of short stories, and six other works of nonfiction. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Also by Martin Amis fiction The Rachel Papers Dead Babies Success Other People Money Einstein's Monsters London Fields Time's Arrow The Information Night Train Heavy Water and Other Stories Yellow Dog House of Meetings The Pregnant Widow Lionel Asbo The Zone of Interest nonfiction Invasion of the Space Invaders The Moronic Inferno Visiting Mrs. Nabokov Experience The War Against Clich? Koba the Dread The Second Plane
The Rub of Time
RT I N A M I S The Rub of Time bellow, nabokov, hitchens, travolta, trump essays and reportage, 1994'2017 vintage international vintage books A Division of Penguin Random House LLC New York
FIRST VINTAGE INTERNATIONAL EDITION, JANUARY 2019 Copyright ? 2017 by Martin Amis All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York, and in Canada by Vintage Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in hardcover in Great Britain by Jonathan Cape, an imprint of Vintage Publishing, a division of Penguin Random House Ltd., London, in 2017, and subsequently published in hardcover in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York, in 2018. Vintage is a registered trademark and Vintage International and colophon are trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC. The page following the index constitutes an extension of the copyright page. The Library of Congress has cataloged the Knopf edition as follows: Names: Amis, Martin. Title: The rub of time : Bellow, Nabokov, Hitchens, Travolta, Trump: essays and reportage, 1994''2017 / by Martin Amis. Description: First edition. | New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. | Includes index. Identifiers: LCCN 2017017321 Subjects: LCSH: Reportage literature, American. | BISAC: LITERARY COLLECTIONS / Essays. | LITERARY CRITICISM / Books & Reading. Classification: LCC PR6051.M5 A6 2018 | DDC 824/.914''dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017017321 Vintage International Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4000-9599-5 eBook ISBN: 978-0-525-52025-2 Book design by M. Kristen Bearse www.vintagebooks.com Printed in the United States of America 10? 9? 8? 7? 6? 5? 4? 3? 2? 1
To my grandchildren Isaac and Eleanor
Contents Author's Note and Acknowledgments xi By Way of an Introduction He's Leaving Home 3 Twin Peaks 1 Vladimir Nabokov and the Problem from Hell 9 Saul Bellow, as Opposed to Henry James 22 Politics 1 The Republican Party in 2011: Iowa 31 The Republican Party in 2012: Tampa, Florida 36 The Republican Party in 2016: Trump 42 Literature 1 Philip Larkin: His Work and Life 55 Larkin's Letters to Monica 68 Iris Murdoch: Age Will Win 76 The House of Windsor Princess Diana: A Mirror, Not a Lamp 83 The Queen's Speech, the Queen's Heart 86 More Personal 1 You Ask the Questions 1 97 The Fourth Estate and the Puzzle of Heredity 104
viii ? Contents On the Road: The Multicity Book Tour 108 The King's English 116 Twin Peaks 2 Bellow's Lettres 125 Nabokov's Natural Selection 130 Americana (Stepping Westward) Losing in Las Vegas 145 Travolta's Second Act 156 In Pornoland: Pussies Are Bullshit 167 Literature 2 Don DeLillo: Laureate of Terror 185 J. G. Ballard: From Outer Space to Inner Space 195 Early Ballard: The Drowned World 199 The Shock of the New: A Clockwork Orange Turns Fifty 204 Sport Three Stabs at Tennis 213 The Champions League Final, 1999 221 In Search of Dieguito Maradona 228 On the Court: My Beautiful Game 235 More Personal 2 Deciding to Write Time's Arrow 241 Marty and Nick Jr. Sail to America 244 You Ask the Questions 2 247 Politics 2 Ivan Is Introduced to the USSR: All Together Now 257 Is Terrorism 'About Religion'? 262 In Memory of Neda Soltan, 1983'2009: Iran 268 The Crippled Murderers of Cali, Colombia 279 Literature 3 Philip Roth Finds Himself 293 Roth the Elder: A Moralistic Investigation 298
ix Contents John Updike's Farewell Notes 303 Rabbit Angstrom Confronts Obamacare 308 Jane Austen and the Dream Factory 317 More Personal 3 Christopher Hitchens 329 Politics 3 On Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition 343 President Trump Orates in Ohio 349 Twin Peaks 3 Bellow: Avoiding the Void 363 V'ra and Vladimir: Letters to V'ra 369 Index 375
Author's Note and Acknowledgments the natural sin of language In the process of its composition, a lyric poem or a very short short story can reach the point where it ceases to be capable of improvement. Anything longer than a couple of 'pages''as John Updike will later remind us, in a phrase of T. S. ? Eliot's''will soon succumb to 'the natural sin of language,' and will demand much concentrated work. By the natural 'sin? of language I take it that Eliot is referring (a) to its indocility (how it constantly and writhingly resists even the most practiced hands) and (b) to its promiscuity: in nearly all of its dealings language is as indiscriminate as currency, and gathers much incidental grit and lint and sweat. Poets are familiar with the sudden surmise that their revisions had better be discontinued (and quickly, too), that their ? so-called ? improvements are starting to do real harm. Even the novelist shares this fear: you are nervously tampering with an inspiration that is going dead on you. Northrop Frye, a literary ? philosopher-'king to whom I owe fealty, said that the begetter of a poem or a novel is more like a midwife than a mother: the aim is to get the child into the world with as little damage as ? possible''and if the creature is alive it will scream to be liberated from 'the navel strings and feeding tubes of the ego.' Discursive prose, on the other hand (essays and reportage of the kind represented between these covers), cannot be cleansed of the ego, and is in any case limitlessly improvable. So I have done some cutting, quite a bit of adding (footnotes, postscripts), a lot of elabo-