Martin Amis, “Success”

Do you sometimes read books? Are you a youngish male? (Bonus points for being the kind likely to feel vaguely sympatico with the main dude in Greenberg.) Do you ever complain about sex issues or your job? About class?  Like a drink? Have a sense of humor? Do you have at least a light liberal-arts education (including self-education)?

Then may I suggest Martin Amis‘ cruel, despondent, hilarious short novel Success? It’s a book about co-dependents who despise each other, and who are both vile, funny, self-obsessed human urbanites. The angst of writers like David Foster Wallace, Denis Johnson, and Junot Diaz is unimaginable without Amis; he is the bridge between their voices and the realist comedy exemplified by Graham Green, Kingsley Amis, Dickens, Conrad, Evelyn Waugh, and Charlotte Bronte. (Though Bronte isn’t a true realist. Plus, you would need to talk about Rabelais and Henry Fielding and D.H. Lawrence, who is unintentionally funny. Of course Samuel Beckett, too.  Especially him. Anyway.) Success is a book to read if you fancy yourself cosmopolitan in that coastal Anglo-American hip way but also enjoy ironic perspectives on the foibles of said lifestyle. Amis is a novelist for the end of parties, also the beginnings of them and the middles.



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